by Erica L. Smith, MD, obstetrician, Intermountain Healthcarebirth plan

As an obstetrician, I celebrate one of the most traumatic, exciting and life-changing days of a woman’s life. There are many ways to accomplish the feat, and the ultimate goal is safety of both mom and baby.

In a hospital setting, we have many ways to facilitate the big day. Some ladies prefer as minimal intervention as possible, while others prefer all that modern medicine has to offer.

Obstetricians commonly facilitate many different options including intermittent monitoring or continuous monitoring, no pain medication or an epidural for pain management. Regardless of the journey, everyone wants the same outcome: a healthy baby. Obstetricians regularly work with patients to facilitate labor and delivery in a manner that the patient desires while attempting to provide a safe place for both mother and baby.

Each mother has unique needs, interests and concerns that develop during her pregnancy. I have found that one of the best ways mothers can prepare for labor and delivery is to become familiar with their birthing options by developing a birth plan.

A birth plan doesn’t determine exactly how your labor and delivery will go (there are many variables), but it does help you and your partner decide what is most important for the birth of your baby. A birth plan can help you communicate your laboring preferences and the type of labor and delivery you would like to have. This plan also helps your doctor and the hospital’s nursing staff pair your unique desires with birth options available at the hospital. Mothers who take time to develop a plan are often surprised by the amount of choices they have and tend to be highly engaged in their birth.

A birth plan may cover some or all of the following topics:


  • Comfort options
  • Communication
  • Discomfort management
  • Hydration
  • Labor environment
  • Monitoring
  • Stimulation of labor


  • Comfort options
  • Discomfort management
  • Environment
  • Pushing
  • Cesarean delivery

Postpartum Care

  • Feeding baby
  • Bonding/separation
  • Circumcision
  • Environment
  • Length of stay

The goal during the labor and delivery process is to pair up the interests and desires of expecting mothers with available options at the hospital where the baby will be delivered.

At the end of the day a happy mother and a crying baby is the goal, regardless of the pathway chosen to get there.