Third Trimester

Q&A: Do I Need A Birth Plan?

Do I need a birth plan? What's the point of having one?

A "birth plan" is just that — a game-plan for baby's arrival. You can never be totally in charge of your labor and delivery (childbirth is generally a pretty out of control thing), but a birth plan ensures that you and your mate are at least on the same page as your doctors and nurses. The birth plan is a place to make clear your desires about issues like pain meds, people involved, episiotomies and cord cutting.

How it works: document your wishes, talk them over with your doctor, make sure they fit in with hospital policies, and then see to it that you, your doctor, and the hospital each have a copy. If a birth plan is in place, everyone involved in your delivery can be reminded of your wishes if decisions need to be made. That way, you can just focus on the pushin'.

Even though you've got a birth plan, it's important to talk over everything on it with your doc. You both should know exactly what your wishes are. And, there might be some things on the plan that your doctor doesn't quite agree with. You're much better off talking these things out before giving birth than on the actual day. And remember, birth plans are not legal documents — they're more like basic guidelines. Health and safety of mommy and baby always comes first, and birth plans change accordingly.

Ready to create your birth plan? Start here.

By Paula Kashtan