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Pregnancy can be a busy time for couples, there are always plenty items on your pre-baby checklist. Preparing for childbirth is certainly one of those. While labor and birth are unpredictable, the medical care you will receive while your baby is being born does not have to be. Many women opt to prepare a birth plan in which they set out their care preferences for labor and delivery. What is included in a birth plan?

Birth plans are as individual as the expectant mothers who write them. They can include any care preferences you have for the duration of your stay in hospital, from the first contraction right until you go home. A birth plan can help your healthcare providers know your wishes without having to ask you every single time, and can thus be helpful for your doctor or midwife, and nurses, as well as for you. In a hospital, you cannot really expect that your birth plan will be followed to the letter, but it can certainly be a helpful navigating tool. If you want to write a birth plan, what should you include? Here are some possibilities, that you might want to think about:

During labor

Do you want pain medication or an epidural, or do you prefer to go natural? Do you want to be able to walk around in early labor? Are you fine with interns watching, or do you prefer more privacy? Are you OK with cervical examinations to check for dilation? How many? Do you want to shower during labor?

During birth

Do you consent to an episiotomy (vaginal incision), or would you prefer to tear naturally? Are you fine with the "standard", flat on your back delivery position, or do you want to have additional options? Who will cut the umbilical cord, and how soon after birth?

In case of a cesarean

Type of incision you prefer Type of anesthetic you prefer Do you want stitches or staples?

After baby is born

Are you going to breastfeed or will you need formula? Do you want constant rooming in, or are you fine with baby going to the nursery? Do you want your baby circumcised, if it is a boy?

Also see, what should you pack in your hospital bag, and pregnancy checklist: things to take care of before your baby is born.

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