Discussing and developing a birth plan with your partner, midwife and healthcare provider is a great way to explore your wishes relating to your birth experience. Review common birth procedures to learn more about best practices, possible alternatives and your own expectations. Keep breastfeeding in mind when creating your birth plan.

What is a birth plan?

Think of a birth plan as a wish list of options during labour, the birth and the time right after the birth (postpartum). Talk with your partner about how you would like your birth experience to be, then talk with healthcare providers about their care philosophy. State your preferences regarding pain relief and birth position, what should happen in the event of a caesarean section, and what to do if complications arise.

Keep breastfeeding in mind. Baby-friendly (and research-based) breastfeeding practices such as having your baby skin to skin on your abdomen immediately after delivery or continuous rooming-in make sure you have plenty of opportunities for early breastfeeding.

Your birth facility may have sample birth plans that you can use. However, even with a set plan it is impossible to know in advance how a birth will unfold. This is why it is important to be open to changes. Look at your birth plan as a communication tool that will help guide discussions and build trust between you and those who will be involved in your care.

Benefits of a birth plan

  • A personal birth plan provides clarity. It makes your wishes known and facilitates exchanges with your partner, doctor and midwife.
  • You will have a clear idea early on which of your wishes are feasible and which are not, enabling you to adjust accordingly. In discussing the plan with others, you may discover new alternatives.
  • If there is a change in shifts during the birth, a birth plan is very useful to help the new staff get up to speed.
  • It helps create the preconditions for successful breastfeeding after birth.

Numerous different templates of birth plans can be downloaded from the internet. Take time to complete your plan, either alone or with your partner. It can be a powerful tool for a positive birth experience.