How to Create a Birth Plan

As you approach the exciting day when you get to meet your baby face to face, it’s time to think about your preferences for labor and delivery. Some moms-to-be create birth plans to gather their thoughts and to use as a springboard for a discussion with their healthcare provider.

Although pregnancy, labor, and delivery are unpredictable, sharing your preferences with everyone involved may help you feel more confident and in control. Read on to find out how to make a birth plan, perhaps with the help of our birth plan template, and what to do once it’s written.

What Is a Birth Plan and Why Is It Useful?

A birth plan is a list of your preferences relating to the hospital environment, your medical options, and the immediate care of your newborn. The birth plan provides a guideline for your medical team so that when you’re in active labor, you don’t have to worry about any of this − you can just focus on the task at hand.

Labor is a fluid experience, and a birth plan is simply a guide or checklist. You can change your mind at any time about your preferences, in consultation with your healthcare provider. It’s important to remain flexible and expect the unexpected. Read the story of one mom who did not regret that her labor experience did not follow what was in her birth plan.

Just like our children, our labors and deliveries are all unique. Rather than going into it with an elaborate plan (…) be fully present and in the moment.

Lauren Jimeson

Just as some parents prefer not to find out the gender of their baby, not writing a birth plan is also a viable option. If you believe that you and your healthcare provider have been working together seamlessly as a team for the past months of your pregnancy, you may feel confident that your provider will make the best choices during labor, delivery, and the hours after your baby’s birth. In this case, it may make sense to go ahead without providing detailed instructions.



Creating a Birth Plan for a Vaginal Birth

Before you start writing your birth plan, speak to your provider about the different options available to you, and find out what the hospital (or birthing center) and your insurance plan offer. This information might influence what you decide to add (or what’s possible to add). Don't be afraid to ask questions − your healthcare provider and hospital team want you to have the best experience possible!

When making a birth plan, it’s a good idea to keep it short and easy to read. Aim for one or two pages at most, rather than an overly detailed checklist.

Below we’ve listed some of the basic details moms-to-be often include in a vaginal birth plan, including some of the things you might consider asking yourself when writing your plan for a vaginal birth.

Many of these details can also be useful if you’re making a plan for a different type of birth, like a cesarean delivery or a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean delivery), and we’ll cover these in more detail, too. Of course, in the end, it’s up to you what you decide to include, but these examples of birth plan items can be a good place to start if you expect to have a vaginal delivery.

Background Details

  • Your name
  • Your baby’s due date
  • The doctor, midwife, doula, and pediatrician’s contact details.
  • Where you would like to give birth (e.g., in a hospital or a birthing center)
  • The hospital or birthing center’s address and contact details
  • The name and contact details of your birth partner or support person who’ll be with you during labor and delivery. You can also specify if this is the person the hospital or birthing center staff can consult with in case you’re not in a position to respond.
  • Any important medical issues that healthcare providers should know about

During Labor

  • Who do you want with you during labor and delivery (for example, your partner, mom, best friend, or children)?
  • What positions do you want to try (e.g., lying down, sitting, moving around)?
  • If labor is not progressing as it should, do you consent to inducing labor?
  • Do you want any medication to help with the pain (e.g., an epidural)? Curious how other moms-to-be feel about labor pain relief? Take our Pain Relief Plan poll to find out!
  • If the hospital is a teaching hospital, are you comfortable having students observe or help with your labor and delivery?
  • Are there any comfort measures you would like to try, such as breathing or relaxation techniques, having the chance to move around, getting a massage, having the lights dimmed, or playing relaxing music?
  • If possible, would you like to spend part of your early labor time in a water tub, or try using a birthing stool, ball, or chair?
  • How would you like to stay hydrated? Water, ice chips, or an IV drip may be options available to you.
  • Do you prefer to wear your own clothes rather than a hospital-provided gown?


Giving Birth

  • If your hospital policy allows it, do you want your birth partner there with you in the delivery room?
  • Would you prefer having an episiotomy or taking the chance of the perineum tearing?
  • If a cesarean section is needed in the end, what anesthesia option do you prefer, if you have the choice?
  • Where do you want your birth partner to stand while you are giving birth? And do you want your partner to film or photograph the delivery, if this is permitted? Remember to discuss your preferences with your partner and any other support person who’ll be there with you on the day. They may have feelings and expectations about how they would like to experience the day, which you may need to discuss.

After the Delivery

  • Do you want your baby placed on your chest for immediate skin-to-skin contact, or would you prefer that your baby be given to your partner first?
  • Would you like to discuss any medical procedures before they are administered to your baby?
  • Would you prefer to have your baby with you at all times, or is it OK for him to spend some time in the nursery?
  • Do you plan to breastfeed, and if so, would you like the help of a lactation consultant?
  • Are there any cultural or traditional rituals you would like to take place right after giving birth?
  • Who would you prefer to cut the umbilical cord?
  • Are you planning to bank or donate your baby’s cord blood?
  • What are your preferences for your baby’s first bath?

It could also be a good idea to discuss with your family and friends whether you would like hospital visits and when may be a good time for them to come see you and your newborn.

As a quick recap, here are some of the things you may consider adding to your birth plan at a glance:Birth plan template tips

Giving birth

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