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During the last trimester of your pregnancy, you may start to feel worried about all of the different scenarios that happen in the hours leading up to your delivery. There’s one easy way to put those nerves and fears at ease — creating a birth plan!

What’s a birth plan? 
A birth plan is a guide that tells your medical team what your preferences are before, during and after your baby is born. Some of the details that are typically laid out in a birth plan are pain relief management, postpartum options and newborn care. However, it’s good to keep in mind that you should allow for flexibility, just in case something happens where your healthcare provider has to stray from the plan. 

Creating a birth plan doesn’t have to be difficult. Most birthing centers or hospitals have readily available brochures about their philosophies and procedures. You can gather your information on these topics during your tour of the facility. During your tour, you can ask questions that will help make your decision on where you feel most comfortable giving birth!

Now you’re ready to start writing your plan! Here are some things to consider as you’re mapping out your successful delivery:

Don’t skip putting your name, birthdate and a little bio on the page. I know we learned this lesson in kindergarten, but in order for your medical team to match your plans with you, make sure to not forget your name on every page. Also, you never know if an on-call doctor will end up being the one executing your plan (not to mention all the nurses tending to you and your baby), so you should add a brief paragraph about you, your family and whatever else may be valid or interesting to know.

Who’s hanging with you during this process? One of the biggest topics inside a birth plan is who to allow in the delivery room…or who not to allow in the delivery room. Is your partner your support person? Your sister? Do you have a doula? Define these preferences clearly so everyone is well aware.

What are your labor and pain relief plans? If you hang around any “mom” forums, you’re bound to see an argument about what to do with pain while in labor. Do you want a medicated or unmedicated childbirth? If you do, do you have a timeframe on how long you’d like to wait it out? Do they offer nitrous oxide for pain relief? Do you want to move around during labor? Do you have specific birthing tools you’d like to use? (i.e. tubs, birthing stools, showering). What’s your mood? When we think about labor and delivery, we tend to think about a loud, hectic delivery room that we see in the movies. Research actually shows that calming, soothing music can slow pain relief and increase comfort, so many mothers are choosing mood music during their delivery. Do you want soft lighting? Lavender aromatherapy? Don’t forget to add things that may make you feel uncomfortable, too. There are many things you can do to turn up the mood to stay relaxed and calm.

Time to give birth! This is the part that can change quickly, but it’s still good to write down your preferences, keeping in mind that sometimes they can change in order to protect you and your baby. Do you want to move around while pushing? What are your feelings on forceps or other instruments used in childbirth? Do you want to delay cutting the cord? Do you want someone else to cut the cord? 

Newborn care is key. Now that the baby is here, what kind of care do you want for your little one? If you’re having a boy, will he be circumcised? Are you breastfeeding or formula feeding? Do you want to send your baby off to the nursery when they’re sleeping? What other care preferences do you have for your new little one?