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What to Include in Your Birth Plan Template

last year12 min read
Last updated: Jan 20 2023

Unsure of what to include in your birth plan template? We give you the tips and guidelines to get the most out of your birth plan and set you up for success.

Birth Plan Template

Some women have very clear ideas about birth plans, while others only begin to formulate these ideas as their pregnancy progresses to the very last week.

Either way, a birth plan template can really help you work out what to expect when the big day comes and help you feel more prepared for labor and the delivery experience.

But what exactly is a birth plan?

We like to call it birth preferences.

It’s basically a record of your wishes for your experience before, during, and after labor and delivery.

It’s where you’ll draw up a picture of your “best-case scenario,” knowing what’s practical and feasible and what your hospital can accommodate.

There’s a lot to consider when deciding your birth preferences, and much can change in the meantime.

Need help getting a handle on the do’s and don’ts of writing a birth plan?

We’ve got you, mama.

In this article: 📝

  • Do I have to write a birth plan?
  • Are birth plans worth it?
  • What three major areas does a birth plan cover?
  • What should I write in my birth plan?
  • How do I write a good birth plan?
  • Why do birth plans fail?
  • How long should a birth plan be?
  • When should you start a birth plan?
  • What happens at a birth plan appointment?
  • Do’s and don’ts of writing a birth plan
  • Tips for writing a birth plan template

Do I have to write a birth plan?


You don’t have to make a birth plan if you’d prefer not to.

The point is to deliver a better birth experience, and discussing this with a medical professional is a great chance to ask questions and find out more about what you can expect ahead of time.

You can do that without a formal birth plan!

However, a birth plan can be a fantastic tool for self-advocating and providing helpful guidance even when emotions are running high.

Are birth plans worth it?

The beauty of a birth plan template is that it can help you work out what’s realistic and eliminate conflict.

Most importantly, it helps everyone understand your feelings and priorities — which we say is always worth it.

If you go into labor with an on-call doctor, your birth plan can communicate all your wishes effectively to the delivery team when you physically cannot.

But birth plans are not contracts.

And like any milestone and life stage, they are not set in stone.

There’s a good chance your plan can be carried out exactly the way you drew it up, but like pregnancy, childbirth is unpredictable.

Sometimes plans have to adapt for the well-being of you and your baby.

Other times you may change your mind later in your journey.

All of these are valid reasons, mama.

In this sense every birth plan could be considered a template.

What three major areas does a birth plan cover?

So, a birth plan is more a guideline and a wishlist than a binding agreement.

But what should a birth plan include?

There are three main areas your birthing plan template should cover:

  1. Labor and delivery
  2. Newborn care upon delivery
  3. Steps for unexpected events

We go into each area further below.

What should I write in my birth plan?

If you’re wondering how do you come up with a birth plan, a great place to start is a birth plan checklist.

There is no right or wrong way to approach writing a birthing plan: some mamas like to keep things simple, while others find comfort in going into detail.

However, making sure you cover the following areas is a great place to start:

  1. Requests before birth
  2. Requests during labor and delivery
  3. Vaginal vs. C-section
  4. If something goes wrong, what do you want to happen?
  5. Requests for newborn care

Some easy birth plan examples come in the form of a print-out or one-page birthing plan template.

If you think this will help you get started, our sample birth plan is below:

birth plan template free

How do I write a good birth plan?

A birth plan covers many variables, and while comforting, it can also be intimidating to start.

We get it.

One of the best ways to approach it is as an optional wish list and an opportunity to invite open communication with your support team.

To help you, we’ve created a birth plan checklist for each stage of baby’s debut.

Requests before birth

A good place to start for your birth plan template is your requests before birth.

What would make you feel safe, relaxed, and comfortable?

Working out what you’d like — and what is manageable — can help you feel more settled.

Here are some examples to think about:

  • Who you’d like to have with you during labor and/or delivery
  • What and if you would like to eat and drink during labor
  • Whether or not you’d prefer a water birth
  • Whether or not you’d like photos or videos
  • What atmosphere you’d like: music, lighting, comforts from home
  • What equipment you’d like: birthing tub, in-room shower, exercise ball — you may want to check what your facility can accommodate
  • Being out of bed during labor
  • Specific birthing positions you’d prefer

Requests during labor and delivery

Once you’ve outlined your ideal birth setup, it helps to think about what comes next.

This means considering how you’ll manage labor pain and what procedures you’d prefer.

Here are some subjects you may want to address:

  • Will you want an epidural or pain medication?
  • Will you want alternatives to pain meds?
  • Using external and/or internal electronic fetal monitors
  • Using an IV or catheter
  • Using oxytocin to induce your contractions
  • Relying on hypnobirthing
  • Using interventions such as vacuum extraction or forceps to help your baby along
  • Artificial rupture of the membrane or leaving it intact
  • Your medical professional’s view on episiotomies vs. natural tearing

Vaginal vs. c-section

You probably have an idea already as to whether you’d prefer a vaginal or c-section delivery.

However, sometimes unexpected events mean this can change.

If you are high risk or experience a medical emergency, a medical induction or c-section might be the safest route for you and your baby.

Creating a birth plan can help everyone know how to best fulfill your needs.

Usually, these needs are your preferences but thinking about the other options and what you’d like in these instances can be a very helpful plan B.

Requests for newborn care

The first moments after your baby’s birth are exciting and incredibly meaningful, but chances are, you’re going to be feeling pretty pooped by then!

So, thinking about this is helpful to do beforehand.

Your considerations can include:

  • Having your partner catch the baby or cut the umbilical cord
  • When to cut the cord
  • Cord blood banking
  • Special requests around suctioning the baby
  • Special requests around weighing the baby
  • Special requests around the placenta
  • Holding the baby immediately after birth
  • Plans for breastfeeding, or having a lactation consultant to help

If all that feels like a lot to consider, that’s okay.

Many expectant mamas feel overwhelmed by all the decisions ahead of them, but there are many resources out there to help.

If you’re comforted by doing your own research first, then go for it!

There is plenty of sample birth plan templates out there to get you started, including free editable one-page birth plan templates and natural birth plan templates.

These work even better if you work them alongside your birth practitioner.

Remember, there’s no shame in sharing a first draft with your obstetrician and altering your birth plan the more informed you become.

Why do birth plans fail?

Birth plans are guidelines and, by their nature, sometimes fail.

This can often leave moms feeling disappointed by their birthing experience, or worse, that they have failed.

No, we don’t like this energy either, which is why we’ve gathered the top reasons so you can make those birth preferences a sure thing:

1. Not collaborating with your birth practitioner

The number one reason a birth plan fails is lack of communication.

Whether it’s not enlisting their expertise or giving them adequate time to review it, not including your midwife or obstetrician in your birth planning is a no-no.

A birth plan is a process and one that requires all hands on deck to ensure expectations are clear and can be met.

2. Not sharing your birth plan

A recent study showed that those mothers who shared their birth plan with trained professionals tended to have a better experience.

You may not feel comfortable sharing your preferences if you are not asked, but everyone will benefit if you do.

You’ll never regret speaking up. Ever.

And that goes for every aspect of your life BTW.

3. Lack of information or too much

The only thing worse than having a short, uninformed birth plan is one packed to the max with pages of information.

It’s tempting to want to include everything you’ve researched, but this may harm your birth plan more than help it.

The danger of having to sift through tonnes of info is that your most desired preferences may get lost.

Keep it concise, mama!

4. No flexibility

Of course, you have a vision in mind for your labor and newborn aftercare.

And yes, you deserve that vision to come true.

But twists and turns can happen.

As much as everyone wants your plan to follow through, it helps to allow for some flexibility to avoid any dampening of your experience.

Hey, no one likes a change of plan but all the more reason to prepare for deviations.

Birth plans can fail for many reasons.

The good news is some of these are highly preventable (and within your control).

How long should a birth plan be?

As a rule of thumb, you want your birth plan to be easy to read — all the better to make sure your requests are heard.

Your birth plan should be concise and as clear as possible.

Think about 1-2 pages long with plenty of bullet points for easy readability.

As for tone and language, being assertive but polite is always best.

When should you start a birth plan?

There is no strict timeline for a birth plan — although it’s not something you want to be writing the day of.

Shortly after you finish your antenatal classes is a great time to start.

For other mamas, a good place to start is with their obstetrician a few weeks before their due date.

They’ll be perfectly placed to answer your questions and give you confidence in making your choices.

They may even provide a birth plan for you to fill in.

What happens at a birth plan appointment?

A birth plan appointment is a chance to share preferences and ask for guidance in person, safe in the hands of someone keen to give you peace of mind.

It’s also an opportunity for your healthcare provider to get to know you a bit better so they can understand the wishes you have.

All of which is a win-win for you!

Your birth plan appointment is a dialogue where any expectations can be talked through, advice shared, and options explored.

You may be given a birth plan template before or during your birth plan appointment, but there is nothing stopping you from writing your own if it makes you more comfortable.

If you’re not the most assertive person, just remember that a birth plan is all about helping your caregivers and medical team give you the support you need during labor and delivery.

There is no wrong question or silly request if it’s a big concern to you.

What’s most important is you walk away from your appointment with all the information and resources you need to make informed decisions.

You’ll be thankful later.

Do’s and don’ts of writing a birth plan

Writing a birth plan that reads easy and honors your wishes is one everyone can get on board with – and will want to.

Here are some do’s and don’ts that will keep confusion at bay and your birthing experience positive:

  • Do show you are fully informed about choices, especially around pain management
  • Don’t pack your birth plans with pages of research
  • Do include names and numbers of all important caregivers
  • Don’t write paragraphs for each person on your support team
  • Do take inspiration from editable birth plan templates
  • Don’t rely on birth plan checklists alone
  • Do add a concise section of your medical and obstetric history
  • Don’t give a generous overview of your healthy pregnancy — it’s definitely something to shout about but maybe not in the delivery room…
  • Do highlight what is most important to you
  • Don’t be rigid — be prepared that things can change in an instant
  • Do share with your support team and healthcare provider
  • Don’t share last-minute

Tips for writing a birth plan template

If a birthing plan feels right for you, a useful tip is to make several copies.

This way, you or your loved ones can share them easily with the people around you who can facilitate your decisions.

And, of course, you can always ask other mamas on Peanut about their preferences and experiences, too.

Birth plans are a fairly new trend and by no means necessary.

However, it’s easy to see why they’re gaining in popularity: they’ll help you feel more prepared.

And for many, preparation builds confidence.

It’s good to remember, however, that sometimes, things don’t go to plan — and that’s okay, too!

The most important thing is everyone is safe and happy.

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