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Pregnant woman speaks to her doctor.

How to Discuss a Birth Plan with Your Doctor

You’ve framed your ultrasound and picked the nursery color. Your next step: talking with your doctor about a birth plan.

What’s a Birth Plan?

A birth plan is a written document that outlines your preferences for your upcoming labor and birth. You can share it with your health care team so that everyone directly involved with the delivery has the same information. It will also give your care providers an opportunity to work with you on any concerns before labor starts.

Typically, a birth plan includes preferences about key areas of labor and delivery:

  • What atmosphere do you prefer in the birthing room? Music, lighting, pillows?
  • Who will be with you during labor and during delivery?
  • What type of birth are you planning?
  • What do you prefer for pain relief? Is there a position you prefer to labor in/deliver in?
  • What are your feelings about interventions such as medication to move labor along or operative delivery (vacuum, forceps, cesarean)?
  • Do you plan to breastfeed?
  • Do you have preferences about how to bond with your baby after birth?

Tips for Developing Your Plan

Keep in mind your doctor may have questions about some of your ideas and will want to follow established procedures proven to keep you and your baby safe during labor and delivery. To help you and your doctor come to an understanding and be on the same page, keep these considerations in mind as you develop your birth plan:

  • Be thorough. Find out all the routine procedures for your birth setting and discuss with your doctor anything you might have questions about.
  • Be concise. Try to keep your preferences to one page.
  • Be flexible. Things don’t always go as planned.
  • Be collaborative. It may help to use phrases like “we prefer” or “if everything goes smoothly.” This lets your doctor know you want to work as a team.
  • Be open to your doctor’s decisions. Health and safety come first, so if he or she thinks certain choices increase risk, listen and think about it. Your doctor wants what’s best for you and your baby.

Our care providers want to provide the highest quality of care for you and your baby and minimize interventions. We recommend delayed cord clamping, immediate skin-to-skin connection, and early breastfeeding and support. In 2017, Barton Memorial Hospital was recognized as having one of California’s lowest cesarean section birth rates and earned a Blue Distinction® Center for Maternity Care designation for providing healthy outcomes for mothers and babies.


Megan Jewell, MD, is an OB-GYN physician at Barton Women’s Health. To schedule an appointment, call 530.543.5711. To learn more about maternity care and services for women’s health, visit bartonhealth.org/womenshealth.

Barton Health Services for Parents and Babies

  • Free Mommy and Me support groups
  • Free infant CPR classes
  • Childbirth education classes
  • Free lactation consultants
  • Family Birthing Center with private rooms
  • Prenatal yoga classes led by a Labor and Delivery nurse
  • Call 530.543.5547 or visit bartonhealth.org/familybirthingcenter to learn more or register for classes and groups.