A birth plan is a statement of your preferences for how you want to manage your labor and delivery. It’s about educating yourself about your options and feelings, rather than making hard and fast — “I absolutely will/won’t” decisions.
A birth plan involves sorting through things like where you want to deliver, whom you want to have with you during the process, and how you want to manage any pain you may experience. It can be something you simply sort out in your mind and convey verbally, or it can be something you put in writing.
No matter how you develop your plan, make sure you discuss your wishes with your provider well in advance of the big day because obstetric practices vary widely by provider and hospital. For example, some hospitals have rules about fetal heart monitoring during labor.
The most important part of a birth plan — be it written or verbal — is to provide a platform that fosters an open discussion between you and your provider about your preferences wherever there is a choice.
If you put your plan in writing, do not make it a manifesto that attempts to anticipate any and every possibility that can occur with labor and delivery. Keeping it short and sweet not only saves paper, but also makes it easier for your providers to carry out given the unpredictability of the whole process.
Check out an online birth plan worksheet from the babycenter website.