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Birthing Plan Options

Giving birth is a life-changing event. Choosing a birth plan is an individual decision that needs to go along with your wants, needs and beliefs. Developing a birth plan can help you to prepare for both the emotional and physical aspects of labor and delivery. Whether you go au natural or opt for assistance during labor and delivery, you and your medical professional will work together to pick the plan that works best for your situation.

Pick a Professional

One of the primary parts of your birth plan is choosing who you want to deliver your baby. You have a few different options, including an obstetrician or a nurse midwife specialist. A certified nurse midwife is a highly trained medical professional who has a graduate degree in midwifery and has passed the American Midwifery Certification Board, according to the American College of Nurse-Midwives' Our Moment of Truth website. Choosing whether to go with a doctor or nurse specialist is a highly personal decision, and may depend on what your medical situation is, where you want to deliver and your own comfort level.

Where to Deliver

While a popular choice, hospitals aren't the only places to deliver your child. Your birth plan should include where you want to deliver your baby. The primary options include a hospital or medical center, a birth center or a home birth. If you have medical complications, have a high-risk pregnancy or are having pain medication or anesthesia, you'll need to choose a hospital, according to the website KidsHealth. If you have no medical reason or suspected complications, and feel that the hospital environment is too cold for your baby's birth, a birth center provides a more home-like place to go natural. Most birth centers use certified nurse midwives and have medications, IVs and oxygen available to use if necessary. Likewise, a certified nurse midwife typically delivers the baby during a home birth.

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Medication and Anesthesia

If you want to lessen the pain of labor and delivery, your birth plan would include what medications or anesthesia you want to use. During labor and delivery you can choose an injectable or IV pain relief medication, such as a narcotic or an anesthesia-based option, such as an epidural. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists notes that systemic pain relievers dull the entire nervous system and may temporarily lower your baby's heart rate. An epidural is anesthesia administered through an IV in your spine, and will dull sensations from the waist down. An epidural may have some side effects, such as a headache or temporarily decreasing your blood pressure, but has no real effect on the baby.

Going Natural

During a natural childbirth, the mother labors without the assistance of pain medication. Although you would have no pharmacological help, you will still use strategies or techniques to manage the pain. Obstetrician Allison Devine notes that hypnobirthing -- self-hypnotizing oneself -- can relax you and help you to manage the pain, but you'll need training to learn this method. Some mothers choose the Lamaze method, which includes relaxation and conscious breathing. Conscious breathing refers to slow, deliberate breathing that can help to reduce the heart rate and pain during labor, according to registered nurse Judith A. Lothian and childbirth writer Charlote DeVries. You can learn to master these and other methods in specialized childbirth education classes offered at your local hospital or birthing center.

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