Establishing your birth preferences ahead of time can help ensure your wishes are followed as closely as possible. It will also help you clarify what’s most important to you as you prepare for the birth of your baby.

It’s never too early to start thinking about your birth preferences. Ideally, you’ll be exploring your birthing options long before you have to go to the hospital. Knowing what you want in advance will help you communicate more effectively once you go into labor.

You and your baby come first

While the experience you want is important, it's a good idea to keep your birth plan as simple as possible, to be flexible and to remember that your doctor's top priorities are the health and well-being of you and your baby.

After all, birth is a dynamic process that changes from minute to minute. While no one can predict exactly how your labor will evolve, only you and your doctor will make decisions about your baby's birth.

It's a good idea to create your birth plan at least a month before your due date. A birth plan usually answers three basic questions:

  • What are your preferences during a normal labor and delivery? This includes how you want to handle pain relief, fetal monitoring or other labor procedures. It can also include who you want in the birth room, whether or not you want someone to take video or pictures or what birthing positions you want to use.
  • How do you want your baby to be treated immediately after the birth? This may include the person you want to cut the baby's cord, whether or not you want to place the baby on your stomach, if you want to nurse right away or where you want the baby to sleep.
  • How should unexpected events be handled? If your labor is unexpectedly long, your doctor may want you to consider having a cesarean section. If you have a high-risk pregnancy that may involve complications such as premature birth, you should work with your doctor to determine the best options. Knowing your options when things don't go as planned will help you be an active participant in any decisions you may need to make during your delivery.

Birth preferences can't anticipate every possibility that may be a part of your birth experience. It's important to adapt as you progress through your labor to create positive feelings about your child's birth, even if it deviates from your original plan.

You and your doctor share a common goal: the health and safety of you and your baby. Your doctor will work to honor your wishes and balance your desires with her medical expertise.

Fill out our birth preferences checklist and bring it on the day of your delivery so we can help you experience your child's birth the way you want to.

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