You don't have to have a birth plan. But having one is a great idea!
What is a birth plan?
A birth plan is a set of instructions you make about your baby's birth.
It tells your provider how you feel about things like who you want with you during labor, what you want to do during labor, if you want drugs to help with labor pain, and if there are special religious or cultural practices you want to have happen once your baby is born.
How can you use your birth plan?
Fill out a birth plan with your partner. Then share it with your provider and with the nurses at the hospital or birthing center where you plan to have your baby. Share it with your family and other support people, too. It's best for everyone to know ahead of time how you want labor and birth to be.
See also: Birth plan (English, PDF, 224kb), Birth plan (Spanish, PDF, 219kb)
Additional versions of Birth Plan are available in:
Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Hindi, Hmong, Vietnamese, Arabic, Farsi, HYE (Armenian), Korean, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Tagalog, Mixteca Baja.
Translated documents are courtesy of Anthem.