A birth plan is a written document that outlines your preferences for labor and birth.
Whether you have just an idea of what you want your birth plan to look like, or you’ve got it all planned out, Dignity Health can help make your labor and delivery experience the best it can be. Find a Dignity Health OB near you to learn more about our options for birth plans and all that giving birth at one of our Family Birth Centers offers, including our holistic approach to your wellness.
Birth plans are a communication tool. Women and couples use birth plans to share their preferences for labor and birth with their health care team, who uses the birth plan to guide care during delivery.
Topics commonly addressed in a birth plan include:
- Pain relief preferences: Some women want an epidural as soon as possible; others want a non-medicated labor and birth. You can also outline your preferences for non-medical pain relief, such as massage or water therapy in a tub or shower.
- Medical interventions: Would you prefer to avoid an IV and episiotomy if at all possible? How do you feel about fetal monitoring or induction of labor? Talk to your doctor about possible medical interventions during labor and birth, such as breaking your water, using forceps, or having a C-section. For the safety of you and your baby, you may not always have a choice, but it is important to outline your preferences in your birth plan.
- Will you have a doula? A doula is a trained professional that provides physical and emotional support to a woman and her support team during labor and birth.
- Who will be present during labor and childbirth? Will it be just you and a partner, or would you prefer to be surrounded by family and friends? Will you have a doula with you during labor and delivery?
- Preferred environment: Do you want a quiet, dimly lit delivery room? Would you like to relax with aromatherapy?
- First moments after birth: Who do you want to cut the cord? Do you want immediate skin-to-skin contact with your baby? Would you like health care providers to wait, if possible, before administering routine eye ointments and injections?
- Breastfeeding: Many moms use birth plans to express their infant feeding preferences as well.
- Religious and cultural practices: If you’d like to include any specific religious or cultural practices, outline them in your birth plan.
Creating a Birth Plan at St. Mary Medical Center
Talk to your Dignity Health doctor to learn more about routine labor and birth practices, which can vary between hospitals. Our experienced doctors can also give you more information about labor and birth options and answer any questions you may have. It’s best to have these conversations prior to your estimated due date and share your birth plan with your OB prior to birth.
Please remember labor and birth are unpredictable. Your health care team will try to honor your birth plan, but their first priority is you and your baby’s well-being.
Dignity Health Family Birth Center care teams can help you organize, choose, and execute your birth plan at St. Mary Medical Center.