You may already have ideas about your ideal birthing experience. Would you prefer medication or natural childbirth? Do you want your son circumcised? Who will your support people include?
Thinking about these questions ahead of time and making your wishes known in writing before you are in labor will allow the UPMC Magee-Womens staff in Central Pa. to help you have a satisfying delivery experience.
Developing a Birth Plan
At UPMC Magee-Womens, we are committed to family-centered care. That's why we encourage you to develop a birth plan outlining your preferences for your hospital stay, labor and delivery before labor begins. A birth plan is not a binding agreement rather, it is a set of guidelines and preferences that our staff will follow under optimal circumstances.
Completing a birth plan is not mandatory. However, if you have strong preferences about using pain management or medical interventions, who you want in the labor room, and how you wish to feed your baby, it is a good idea to complete a birth plan.
You and your partner should spend some time thinking about and prioritizing what you want during labor and delivery.
Our birth plan template will help you answer a number of questions, including:
- What are your preferences during a normal labor and delivery?
- What are your wishes for your baby's care in the first few days after birth?
- If something unexpected arises, how would you like it to be handled?
Keeping an open mind and being flexible can help your labor and delivery go smoothly. Things do not always go as planned, but educating yourself and making a plan can empower you to make the best choices for you and your family.
Cesarean Birth Plan
Most people think that a birth plan is only for vaginal delivery. However, there are some instances when delivering naturally is not an option.
You may need to have a cesarean section (C-section) if:
- Your baby’s heart rate is abnormal
- Your baby is in an abnormal position
- Your labor does not progress normally
- You have complications with your placenta, such as placenta previa, in which the placenta blocks your cervix
- You have had a previous C-section
- Your baby is too large to be delivered vaginally
- You have maternal medical conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure
- You have active herpes lesions in your vagina or cervix
- You have twins or other multiples
If your baby's birth will be a planned C-section, you will still have control over some aspects of your baby's delivery. Creating a birth plan and discussing it with your health care provider will help you understand your options and what decisions you can make in advance. You may want to consider:
- If you want to be able to hold your baby
- Who will be present with you during the birth
- What medications or sedatives should be used
- If you will breastfeed
You should also discuss any concerns about anesthesia with your anesthesiologist before surgery.
Natural Birth Plan
Natural childbirth means giving birth without pain medication. Instead of medication, you would use relaxation and breathing techniques, position changes, walking, massage, water therapy, and other techniques to manage the pain of labor. Medication-free labor allows you to move around more freely and may result in the delivery of a more alert baby, which is helpful for breastfeeding.
You may want to consider signing up for one of our childbirth classes in Central Pa. to learn about the various options for pain relief during labor. After you learn about all the available options, you can decide if a natural birth plan is right for you.
Keep in mind that a birth plan is not binding. You can decide at any point before or during your labor to depart from your birth plan.
Birth Plan Resources
Birth Plan Template (PDF)
Need more information?
Learn about the Labor and Delivery Services at UPMC in Central Pa.