My father was fond of saying "It is not the mountains ahead that wear you down, it is the grain of sand in your shoe". In other words, both the pain and the joy are in the details. This is so true when it comes to birth. Writing a birth plan is an excellent way to learn and express your childbirth options. A well written birth plan enables you to communicate in a non-threatening, non-demanding way with your care providers. A birth plan need not be elaborate. In fact, care providers are more likely to read and remember a plan if it is one page or less. Here are a few sample plans for you to look at. These plans are very long, but for each section you only select one or two options, so your plan will be significantly shorter. Be sure to thoroughly research anything you don't understand. Informed consent is only possible if you understand each option you choose. Also, do not feel restricted by the sample plans. A birth plan is a very individual work that should reflect your personality and style. Aim to have your plan completed around the 36th week of pregnancy. This will give you a few office visits to discuss the plan with your doctor. While what you want is important, realize that you may have to make compromises to comply with hospital policy. Talking to your Doctor ahead of time will allow you to work out any sticking points and create a plan that is more likely to be honored. Here are a few websites to help you write your birth plan. thelaboroflove.com babyzone.com