Banner Health Services  

What is a Birth Plan?

Dr. Urig  

Michael Urig, MD, is the Associate Chair and Associate Director of the OB/GYN residency program at Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix

Question: What is a birth plan?

Answer: Preparing a birth plan is a frequent topic of articles on websites and in pregnancy magazines.  Many pregnant patients wonder about this concept, wanting to understand what it is and whether it is necessary. 

A birth plan is a basic outline of an expectant mother’s wants and needs during the labor and delivery process, as well as her doctor’s advice and recommendations.  While a birth plan is not a requirement, it is a good idea for the pregnant patient to review her desires with her obstetrician in advance of her due date.  Through this dialogue, the doctor can help dispel any myths about labor and delivery, questions and concerns can be addressed, and the patient can gain a better understanding of what to expect from the birthing process.

Some of the most common birth plan topics include the use of epidural for pain management; the opportunity to walk during labor; opinions on episiotomy; the number of people allowed in the delivery room; the possible use of forceps and vacuum; and the chances and reasons for cesarean section. 

Pre-printed birth plans are available, which enable the expectant mother to put her ideas on paper so she can share them with her doctor.  However, the most important thing a pregnant woman can do is remain flexible.  Every birthing process is different and while she may hope to follow a certain plan, being open to other possibilities during labor and delivery is extremely helpful to both patient and doctor.

Reviewed June 2010

Page Last Modified: 03/01/2015
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