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A birth plan is a written statement about a woman's preferences for her care during labor and birth. Birth plans are a relatively recent development on the maternity floor, but they have gained popularity and are now a common aspect of a mother's preparations for childbirth. If you are pregnant and wondering whether you should be making a birth plan or not, here are some pointers to guide you.

Birth plans can be very useful to make your care preferences clear to doctors and nurses if you are giving birth in a hospital, and you do not want to be telling the same thing over and over again, many times. They come in particularly handy if you will be delivering with an on-call doctor who you have not met before. And, if you have unusual requests, a birth plan might help remind hospital staff not to carry out certain routine aspects of their usual care. For tips about what to include in your birth plan, you can take a look at our previous article what is a birth plan?

Only you can decide whether you need to make a birth plan or not, but if you do make one, being careful about its wording and keeping it concise will help you and the hospital staff a great deal. Being flexible if labor and birth take an unexpected turn is important, but at the same time sticking to your guns on issues that are important to you is fine. If you do not want pain relief and prefer not to be offered any, you can include that in your birth plan. Picking a competent healthcare provider and deciding where to give birth is more important than any written birth plan, so if you feel comfortable with those factors, you will be just fine with or without a birth plan!

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