Developing your personal birth plan gives you a chance to think about and discuss with your primary support person and your caregiver, how you’d like your baby’s birth to be handled. It’s not possible to control every aspect of labor
and delivery, but if you develop a plan and have a printed document available for those supporting and caring for you, it’s easier for them to follow your wishes if possible. Remember that the birth plan is just a guideline.
It is beneficial to begin the discussion of your birth plan with your OB Provider during your prenatal visits to build a partnership and begin the process of shared decision making. Shared decision making is a key component of patient centered health
care. It is a process in which clinicians and patients work together to make decisions and select tests, treatments and care plans based on clinical evidence that balances risks and expected outcomes with patient preferences and values.
Shared decision making is important as: It can create a new relationship between individuals and professionals based on partnership. People want to be more involved than they currently are in making decisions about their own health and health care.
Some of your decisions before and during childbirth may affect your risk of cesarean. These decisions are best made in collaboration with your provider during your prenatal visits, well in advance of labor beginning. Here are some common decision points:
- Whether to wait for labor to begin on its own (induction of labor may increase your risk of cesarean)
- Whether to be admitted to the hospital in early labor or to wait until active labor (being admitted in active labor improves your chances of having a vaginal birth)
- How to monitor your baby’s heart rate during labor (low-risk women who are continuously monitored may be more likely to have a cesarean)
- Whether to have continuous labor support by a trained caregiver like a doula (continuous labor support improves your chance of having a vaginal birth)
- How to help manage labor pain and labor progress
- How to stay hydrated and maintain strength during labor
- Whether to remain mobile and upright during labor
- How to push around the time of birth
- What practices to engage in shortly after your baby is born and before you go home
Below are some common birth plan options to help you customize your own plan.