Birth plan

Information to comfort you and boost your confidenceA birth plan is a tool that can guide your thinking. It also lets you communicate your wishes, verbally or in writing, to your health professionals and anyone else involved in the birth.

When your baby is born, you have decisions to make as parents about the treatment and care mom and baby will receive. You will feel better prepared if you’ve taken the time to think about the following list. But do keep in mind that no one knows ahead of time how the delivery will go. You can change your minds during delivery and you should stay open to any eventuality:

  • Identify your wishes and fears
  • Share your thoughts with your partner and your family and friends
  • Inform all the health professionals who will be assisting you, as well as anyone who will be with you at the birth, of your values, preferences, and wishes

Essential information to rememberSome hospitals have a sample birth plan you can use. You can also ask your health professional or prenatal class instructor for one, or look in books or online.

There are many sample birth plans available for your use. Ask your health professional or prenatal class instructor for one, or see if your hospital or birthing centre has a version they use. You can also look for sample birth plans in books or online.

No matter how you intend to use it, a good birth plan is

  • Clear and concise
  • Well prepared and has been given to your health professional before the birth and gone over with him or her

Most important, remember that even if your birth plan outlines your idea of the perfect birth, things may not go as you expected. Be confident, and don’t forget that if you are feeling overwhelmed by the decisions you need to make, you can ask your health professionals for help. Trust them! They will be there for you throughout your delivery. They have lots of experience, and their top concern is the well-being of you and your baby.

Here are a couple of tips to help you plan (as much as you can) for the birth of your baby. Take some time to think about the questions below and learn about your rights during labour and delivery and after your baby is born.

Things to think about when preparing your birth plan

Question You have the right to...

Who will be with you during labour and delivery?

  • Have the baby’s father or anyone else you want at your side
  • Know whether you could be examined by professionals in training (doctors, nurses, midwives)

What methods would you like to use during labour to manage or relieve pain or make it more bearable?

  • Labour and deliver at your own pace
  • Push and give birth in the position that suits you best

How do you feel about the interventions that may be performed during labour and delivery?

  • Be informed of the motives and reasons for all interventions (induction, stimulation, forceps, episiotomy, epidural, sedatives, continuous monitoring, IV, etc.) and their effects on you and your baby, and to refuse any interventions you don’t want

How do you want to deal with unexpected developments during pregnancy, labour, and delivery?

  • Know the medical reasons for an intervention and all the options available
  • Be informed of the different types of anaesthesia available and to choose the one that suits you best
  • Have the father or any other friend or family member with you at all times

How do you want to spend your first moments with baby?

  • Have skin-to-skin contact with your baby as soon as she is born and to hold her as long as you’d like

What if you have to stay longer at the hospital or birthing centre?

  • Room-in with your baby at all times, no matter how many people are in your room
  • Ask that arrangements be made so that the baby’s father or the person with you can stay by your side at all times
  • Ask not to be disturbed by the facility’s routines so you can rest or have time with your baby, according to your needs

How do you feel about the exams and interventions that may be recommended for you and your baby after the birth?

  • Know the reasons for all examinations, interventions, and medications recommended for you or your child, and to postpone or refuse them

How do you want to feed your baby?

  • Breast-feed your baby on demand/as needed and ask that no supplements (water, formula) be given to him
  • See a breast-feeding consultant who can help you if needed

How do you want to deal with unexpected developments after your baby is born? (e.g., if you or your baby have to stay in the hospital)?

  • Have all reasonable measures taken so you can stay with your baby at all times

Some of this information was based on the leaflet Grossesse et accouchement. Droits des femmes published by Association pour la santé publique du Québec (ASPQ).