How to Write a Birth Plan

So you are getting ready to welcome your little angel to the world? Congratulations! You have obviously spent the last few weeks obsessing over all the things that you need to make the trip to the hospital and the first few weeks after the baby arrives a success. Which means you have probably considered creating a birth plan. 

A birth plan is a document that lets your medical team know your preferences for labor and delivery. It is important because it can help you communicate your wishes and expectations to your care providers and make sure everyone is on the same page. 

That said, you have to keep in mind that a birth plan is not a contract. It is also not a guarantee that all the things you want to happen will happen. Sometimes things don’t go as planned, and you may need to be flexible and adapt to changing situations at a moment’s notice. 

At the end of the day, your and your little one’s health are the most important things. When you have a birth plan, your care team will do their best to respect it while ensuring a safe and positive outcome.

How to Create Your Birth Plan

Creating a birth plan is pretty simple. Here is how to do it: 

  • Start by journaling. Begin writing down your thoughts and feelings about labor and delivery early in your pregnancy. You can use this journal to reflect on your hopes, fears, questions and concerns. You should also use it to record any special circumstances or medical history that may affect your birth experience.
  • Do your research. Next, take some time to learn about the different aspects of labor and delivery. Read about things like pain relief methods, labor positions, delivery interventions, newborn procedures and postpartum care. Find out what is available at your chosen birth location. You can also tour the facility and ask questions to the staff. You may want to take a childbirth education class or consult with a doula or other birth professional for more information and guidance.
  • Discuss with your partner and care provider. Talk to your partner about your preferences and expectations for labor and delivery. Make sure you are on the same page. They will need to support you during this time. Also, share your thoughts with your doctor or care provider. They can give you feedback and answer any questions you might have. This will go a long way in helping you understand the benefits and risks of the different options that you are considering. 
  • Write down your birth plan. As you do this, be sure to use a simple and clear format. Use bullet points, lists or tables to organize your information. There are also many templates and online tools that you can use to streamline this process. Keep it short and concise and do it in no more than one or two pages. Use positive and respectful language, such as “I prefer” or “I would like” instead of “I don’t want” or “I refuse”. Be flexible and open-minded, and include some alternatives in case things change.
  • Review and revise your birth plan. Read over your birth plan and make sure it reflects your current wishes and needs. You may want to update it as your pregnancy progresses or as you learn new information. You can also ask your care provider to read it and give you feedback. Make sure everything is clear, accurate and realistic.
  • Finally, share your birth plan with your care team. Bring several copies with you when you go into labor. Give one to each member of your care team. Explain your birth plan to them and ask them to respect it as much as possible. However, be prepared to discuss any changes or deviations that may occur during labor and delivery. Trust that your care team has your best interests at heart and that they will do everything they can to help you have a positive birth experience.

What to Include in Your Birth Plan

Your birth plan is a uniquely personal document. What you include in it will be determined by what you want, what you need, and what is available at your birth location. 

Generally speaking, here are some of the things that your birth plan should have: 

  • Your personal information: Include your name, contact details, due date, health insurance information, medical history, allergies, blood type etc.
  • Your birth partner’s info: This is the name (or names) of the person who will accompany you during labor and delivery. It can be your partner, a family member or a friend.
  • Your care provider: This is the name of the person who will be providing the primary medical care for you and your baby. It can be your doctor, midwife or doula.
  • Your birth location: The name of the hospital, birthing center, or home where you plan to give birth.
  • Your labor preferences: Your wishes for how you want to manage your labor pain
  • Your delivery preferences: Your wishes for how you want to give birth, such as the position you want to be in, the use of any tools or equipment (such as birth ball, birth stool, birth pool etc.), the need for any interventions, the possibility of a cesarean delivery, and other preferences (type of anesthesia, presence of partner, skin-to-skin contact etc.).
  • Your newborn preferences: Your wishes for how you want your baby to be cared for after birth, such as immediate or delayed cord clamping, cord blood banking or donation, skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding or formula feeding, vitamin K injection, eye ointment, newborn screening tests, circumcision, and so on. 
  • Your postpartum preferences: Your wishes for how you want to be cared for after delivery

Final Thoughts

As you can see, a birth plan is a useful tool in your arsenal as you prepare for your labor and delivery. It is a great way to communicate your preferences and expectations to your care team, ensuring that everyone is on the same page. 

That said, it is important to remember that a birth plan is not a contract and nothing in it is a guarantee. Labor and delivery can be very unpredictable processes, so you need to be flexible and quick to adapt to changing situations. 

Writing a great birth plan is not difficult. In fact, it can be a very enjoyable process. When you follow the steps and tips outlined above, you should be able to create your own birth plan in no time at all. Remember to keep it short and concise and use positive and respectful language. Good luck!