Dr. Todd Schad, Obstetrics and Gynecological Surgeon: A birth plan is typically a document that parents will bring to the Labor and Delivery Unit that writes out specifically what they are hoping to have happen during their childbirth experience, whether it be they want to be able to walk during labor, they want to use a birthing ball, they want to get in the tub during labor, that you want pain medication or you don't want pain medication, realizing that you can always change your mind.
If you say, "I don't want any pain medication," and that's your thought going into it, but then at some point you say, "You know what, I really do need to get some rest here, I'd like some pain medication," that's allowed.
It's your delivery, it's really what you want as a patient. I think that birth plans are a good thing to talk over with your provider, because the provider may have some input -- some experience that can help to lead you to appropriate expectations during the delivery of your child.
Childbirth is a very dynamic period of time and it typically doesn't go in a standard way for everybody. So I think having an open mind and having a birth plan that has some room for change based on circumstances that are happening during the birth process.
What I tell people that come in, because they'll ask me if they need a birth plan, that's the question that they usually ask me, and I tell them that what I think is more important is that they and I have discussed their plan and that we have an understanding of what's going to happen.
Sometimes if you have it written down, it almost becomes like a road map that people get anxious if they can't follow it, but if it's kind of a verbalized understanding and that's communicated between the patient and the provider, then it's much easier to follow.
It's really what you want as a patient, but we're there as your guide to help make sure that it's not only a positive experience, but also a healthy experience for both the baby and mom.
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