By Mathew Miller, Sharon Perkins

Unfortunately for you dads, labor usually doesn’t begin on that imprecise due date you’ve been hanging your hat on for the last nine months. Babies can come early, and with so much to get ready for, you may find yourself putting off creating and sharing your birth plan.

Make time to write your birth plan toward the beginning of the third trimester, which gives you plenty of time to share it with your birthing team and any inquiring relatives and friends.

How to go over your and your partner’s plan with the birthing team

Have your birth plan in place far in advance of your due date so you can share it with your doctor or midwife during the seventh or eighth month of pregnancy. Doing so gives you time to discuss the plan and address any concerns your medical practitioner may have. If you’re hiring a doula, schedule a prenatal visit to go over the document.

Upon arrival at your delivery room, give a copy of your birth plan to the nurse assigned to your room. Hang a copy on the front of your door, if permitted, so that anyone who enters your room can read it first. Also hang a copy on the wall in your room, preferably near where your partner will deliver. Giving your medical practitioner a visual reminder can’t hurt.

Don’t go crazy posting your birth plan all around the room though. If your birth plan contains standard, routine, agreed-upon-in-advance procedures, festooning the room with your birth plan will undoubtedly be seen as slightly weird by the staff.

Getting off on the right foot is always a good first step. Deliver your birth plan to the nurses on duty with a plate of fresh-baked goodies. Making cookies or cupcakes can be a welcome distraction during early labor at home and can make the overworked, underpaid nurses more welcoming of your birthing decisions.

How to share with family and friends your plan

Choosing not to have an epidural, opting to use a midwife, or allowing a doula into your birthing room and not your partner’s mom/sister/best friend can cause quite a stir. Anything you choose to do or not do that departs from other people’s birthing experiences not only is “new and weird” but also can make them feel like you think the way they did it was wrong.

Conveying your plans early and often is key to getting everyone on the same page — or at least reading the same book — by the time the big day rolls around. Even if you can’t get everyone to agree with your decisions, don’t sweat it.

Thank everyone for their concerns, but assure them that you’d never make a decision that wasn’t both educated and in the best interest of your partner and child. And, at the end of the day, after baby arrives, nobody will care how she got here.

Unless you’re openly soliciting advice from others in your lives, talk about the plan as if it were a done deal. Talking about considerations and decisions you’re making with a larger group of people means that although you may get a wide spectrum of opinions, you’ll also get an even wider spectrum of criticism when your decision doesn’t adhere to everyone else’s recommendations.

However, you and your spouse have the right to decide the birthing option that works best for you. When your plan is in place, simply tell the people in your lives where, when, and how you plan on having the baby.

If you and your partner are worried about the reaction your mother-in-law will have to the news of your plans to have an at-home water birth, don’t be afraid to share the news of your personal birth plan via e-mail. That way she’s allowed to have her reaction without making you feel judged.

Also, the more unconventional your birth plan is, the more information your family and friends will want about your choices. In those instances, it’s best to formulate a detailed, concrete birth plan before sharing the information.

Many people are quite opinionated when it comes to whether to have a medicated labor or to circumcise. Don’t feel the need to argue your position; the decision is ultimately yours, and what you want most is to do what’s best for mother and baby in your eyes.

Consider telling people that you plan on seeing how events unfold and that you’ll address mom’s and baby’s needs as you see fit on delivery day. After all, nobody knows what your partner will need or want until she needs or wants it.

Get educated on your options and be honest with your friends and family. If all else fails and someone still insists you’re wrong, have a confrontation. Arguments aren’t enjoyable, but you’ll be happier if you have it hashed out before the big day arrives.