Pregnancy

Birth Plan Template: Tips & Advice

Team Peanut6 months ago6 min read

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.

Birth Plan Template: Tips & Advice

But what is a birth plan, really? Well, we actually 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”, taking into account what’s practical and feasible, and what your hospital or birthing center can accommodate.

You may find your midwife or birth practitioner actually prompts you to fill out a birth plan themselves.

In this article: 📝

  • Do I have to write a birth plan?
  • What should I write in my birth plan?
  • Requests before birth
  • Requests during labor and delivery
  • Vaginal vs. C-section
  • Requests for newborn care
  • Your birth plan template
  • Your next steps

Do I have to write a birth plan?

Nope! 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!

A birth plan can help you work out what’s realistic and eliminate conflict, and helps everyone understand your feelings and priorities. But it’s not set in stone. They’re not a contract. There’s a good chance your plan can be carried out exactly the way you drew it up, but childbirth is unpredictable. You can change your mind! Equally, sometimes plans have to adapt for the wellbeing of you and/or your baby.

What should I write in my birth plan?

If you’re wondering how to write 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’re covering the following areas is a handy guide:

  1. Requests before birth
  2. Requests during labor and delivery
  3. Vaginal v.s C-section
  4. Requests for newborn care

Some easy birth plan examples come in the form of a print-out or one page birth plan template. If you think this will help you get started, our sample birth plan is below:

birth plan template examplet
Template from lasvegasbabymagazine.com

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
  • 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 changes. 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 also 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

Your birth plan template

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, there are plenty of simple birthing plan templates out there, including free editable one-page birth plan templates, natural birth plan templates, and many more besides.

These are a useful place to start, and work best if you can confirm and resolve your choices within them with your birth practitioner.

For other mamas, a good place to start is with your birth practitioner. They’ll be perfectly placed to answer your questions and give you confidence in making your choices. They may even suggest or provide a birth plan for you to fill in.

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

Your next steps

Birth plans are a fairly new trend, and they’re 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.

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.

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.

You might also be interested in:
Hypnobirthing: What It Is, How It Works, and Top Techniques
Tips for a More Confident Birth: 4 Things to Do Before You’re Due
Choose Your Own (Birth) Adventure: 3 Must-Ask Questions
Online Birthing Classes: Are They Right For You?
Your Guide to Having a Vaginal Birth
All You Need to Know About Early Decelerations