Some women want to go without birth pain medicine. Others will want as much relief from the pain as they can get, and as soon as possible.
Some women will want lots of family members and loved ones close by. Other women will want the birth to be very private.
Some women will want to hold the baby right after it is born. Others will want the baby to be cleaned and dressed before they hold their newborn.
Below are many of the things you may want to think about.
Pain Relief During Labor
How do you feel about using medicine for pain relief in labor?
Do you want to try to give birth without pain medicine, or do you want medicine for pain relief? Would you like to have an epidural for pain relief during labor?
Would you like to be able to labor in a tub or shower, if allowed, at the hospital?
How can your labor coach or partner help soothe your pain?
What to Bring to the Hospital
What do you want to bring to your labor and delivery? Music? Lights? Pillows? Photos? Make a list of items you want to bring with you.
Do you want to film the birth of your baby? If so, check with the hospital ahead of time. Some hospitals have rules about videotaping births.
Who Will Be in the Room
Who do you want to be with you during labor? During delivery?
Will you include your other children? In-laws and grandparents?
Is there anyone you want kept out of the room?
Do you want your partner or coach to be with you the entire time? What do you want your partner or coach to do for you?
Delivering the Baby
Is there one birthing position you prefer over others?
How do you feel about the use of stirrups to brace your legs? If you do not want to use stirrups, who will hold your legs when you push?
Would you like to have a mirror so you can see your baby being delivered?
Do you have strong feelings about assisted delivery (the use of forceps, vacuum extraction)?
If you have to have a cesarean (C-section), do you want your coach or partner to be with you during the surgery?
Right after Your Baby Is Delivered
Who do you want to cut the umbilical cord?
Do you want to hold your baby as soon as it is born, or do you want the baby washed and clothed first?
Do you have wishes about how to bond with your baby after it is born?
Are you planning to breastfeed? If so, how do you feel about having your baby stay in your room after delivery?
Would you like to avoid pacifiers or supplements, unless ordered by your baby’s doctor?
Do you want anyone from the hospital to help you with breastfeeding? Would you like for someone to talk to you about bottle feeding and other baby care issues?
Do you want a male baby to be circumcised (extra foreskin removed from penis)?
Take time to think about your choices. Write them down. Talk to your partner as you make your birth plan, as well as your doctor or midwife.
Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Bellevue, Washington; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.