Birth Plans: About

Birth Plans & Preferences

Birth preference lists (or “birth plans”) are good tools for communicating with your provider(s), partner, other labor support persons, and birth center or hospital.  A good birth preference list explains your specific preferences and gives guidelines for what you expect regarding your overall treatment during labor. Creating a birth preference list–ideally, together with your partner–and sharing it with your provider(s) serves a many different and equally important purposes:

  • Starting from a comprehensive list of issues/preferences can show you what your options are.
  • You can use a preexisting list of issues to interview providers or staff at potential birth places (hospital Labor and Delivery units, birth centers).
  • Making a list helps you clarify your preferences for yourself.
  • It also helps communicate those preferences to your partner.
  • It identifies any issues on which your preferences differ, for further discussion and research.
  • It gives you a list of things to discuss with your provider(s), so you can identify any preferences that may be difficult to attain in your chosen birth setting. You can also be reassured that some of your preferences are no problem in your chosen birth setting.
  • If what you want is different from the routine of your birthplace, any agreements reached with your provider(s) can be documented in the birth preferences list, which you can ask the provider(s) to sign.
  • Your birth preferences list can be included with your chart and available to the nursing staff at your chosen birth place (and you can ask them to read it to become familiar with your preferences).
  • If you hire a doula to provide professional labor support, she can not only get to know your preferences through your list, but also advocate for your choices more easily at the birth place (because she can refer staff to your written list in the chart).

Creating a Birth Plan — includes links to resources for writing birth plans