The Basics of a Birth Plan

Congratulations! You’re about to become a parent. Having a baby is exciting, but can also be overwhelming. So, we’ve developed a simple guide to some must-knows for labor options and typical hospital routines and procedures. Below you can find an overview of key terms that can help you create a birth plan.


OB/GYN—a physician trained in reproductive health, pregnancy and childbirth

Midwife—a trained professional in pregnancy, labor, postpartum and newborn care

Doula—a non-medical professional in addition to an OB/GYN or midwife to support person who helps during pregnancy, labor, and postpartum



Hospital—high tech option equipped with operating rooms where both OB/GYNs and midwives are providers

Birth Center—low tech option that has a home-like feel where midwives are usually the providers

Home—midwives provide care during labor in client’s home



doulas in new orleans

Apgar Assessment—assessment of baby’s heart rate, breathing, muscle tone, reflexes, and color

Amniotomy—breaking of waters to induce or accelerate labor

Caesarean Section—baby is delivered through an incision in abdomen and uterus

Circumcision- done in hospital 1-2 days after birth

Cord Clamping—typically done immediately after birth but can be delayed

Electronic Fetal Monitoring—monitoring of baby’s heart rate and contractions

Epidural—pain relief of contractions that decreases sensation in lower body

Episiotomy—surgical cut in perineum to enlarge vaginal opening

Erythromycin Ointment—antibiotic eye ointment administered to prevent eye infection and blindness

Hepatitis B Vaccine—recommended by the CDC for all babies before leaving the hospital

Hep Lock—the start of an IV that is flushed with saline and then capped off for later use

IV—placed in the vein of hand or arm to drip fluids or medication

PKU Test—blood sample taken from heel

Vaginal Exams—used to examine how much cervix has thinned and opened

Vitamin K—a dose of Vitamin K that is given because newborns are born with low levels (needed for blood clotting)

Is learning all of these terms making you feel a little overwhelmed? Reach out to our doulas so we can help you navigate it all!