birth plan baby

A Birth Plan: How to Make One and Examples

Written by: Alyssa Larsen



Time to read 7 min

The arrival of your new baby comes with significant prep and planning during your pregnancy. Bringing your baby home is effortless when you have everything—from the crib to the car seat—set up in advance.

You may feel confident in the arrangements you’ve made for your baby at home but, do you have a plan for the day you give birth?

Better yet, do your doctor and support people know your birthing preferences? Creating a birth plan to get everyone on the same page can help your birthing experience go smoothly when the big day finally comes.

What Is a Birth Plan?

A birth plan is a written or verbal understanding among your entire birthing team of how you want your birthing experience to be. A birth plan leaves little question as to how you want your doctor, nurses, midwife, doula, or partner to take care of you before, during, and after delivery. 

The idea is to communicate all of your answers ahead of time so that when the time comes to bring new life into the world, you can be fully immersed in the moment.

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Do You Need to Create a Birth Plan?

While writing down a detailed birth plan isn’t mandatory, it is necessary to discuss the birthing preferences most important to you with your healthcare provider. This helps you feel more prepared to deliver your baby and helps your doctor or midwife make the best medical decisions on your behalf.

Because babies can come at unpredictable times, you may find that the doctor available to deliver your baby might not be the OB-GYN you see regularly. In the case of a new physician stepping in, a birth plan would help them quickly get acquainted with your preferences.

Even if you choose not to draft a full birth plan, looking at some birth plan templates may bring your attention to relevant concerns that you want to discuss with your doctor.

Remember that the birth plan you create is meant to be a guide for your medical and support team to refer back to if everything goes as expected. Flexibility is key when preparing for your labor and delivery. A medical emergency with you or your baby could limit your options and generally deviate from your birth plan. Allow yourself the freedom to make changes as needed and don’t stress about things beyond your control.

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What Information Should a Birth Plan Include?

Just like your pregnancy up to this point, your birthing experience should be unique and your birth plan should reflect that. You don’t need to follow a birth plan template word for word, you can personalize it to cover the topics most significant to you.

Here are some basic areas of information you may want to include:

Preferences Before Birth

  • What would you like the environment you labor in to be like? You may prefer dim lighting in the room or soft background music playing.

  • Who are you comfortable having in the room with you? Every birthing center or hospital has its own rules on how many support people are allowed in the delivery room. You can also request not to have certain people or unnecessary medical staff in your room.

Preferences During Labor and Delivery

  • What styles of pain management are you interested in? You could be offered an epidural for labor pain or request unmedicated pain relief methods.

  • How would you prefer to deliver your baby? You may have a scheduled cesarean section if your doctor agrees that it’s the best delivery route for your situation. Planning for a vaginal delivery is possible as long as both you and your baby are progressing through each stage of labor without complications.

Preferences for C-Section or Vaginal Delivery

You may want to have a plan for both a cesarean and vaginal birth scenario, especially if you have a high-risk pregnancy or you’ve had a previous c-section.

  • How would you like to be monitored for a vaginal delivery? Fetal monitoring could be continuous or intermittent if the baby is not in distress.

  • At what point would you agree to a c-section if given the option? A long labor could indicate the need for a cesarean. You may have the choice of surgery or waiting longer to deliver vaginally.

  • Would you like to deliver vaginally if active labor starts before your scheduled c-section date? Babies are unpredictable and will come whenever they’re ready. It may be worthwhile to think about vaginal delivery options even if you’ve scheduled a due date.

Preferences for Newborn Care

  • How would you like to experience the first moments following the birth of your baby? You may choose to have your baby placed on your chest directly or after your little one has been cleaned up and swaddled.

  • How should baby care tasks be prioritized? Cutting the umbilical cord may be delayed if you prefer. Skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding could be initiated before weight and measurements are taken.

Birth Plan Template

We have a sample birth plan to help you get started, but remember: this is just a guide. You may choose to follow this template line by line, but you don’t have to. You can add, remove, and rephrase any of the following information to personalize your birth plan.

Important Notes

    • I plan to deliver:

      • Vaginal

      • C-section

      • VBAC

      • Water Birth

    • This is my (#) baby

    • Pertinent medical conditions/health history.

Basic Information

    • Name

    • Partner/support person’s name

    • Due date/induction date/c-section date

    • Hospital/birthing facility

    • OB-GYN/midwife/doula’s name

    • My baby’s pediatrician will be Dr. (Name).

Before Labor

    • Names of support people I want in the delivery room

    • I would prefer/decline an IV catheter at this time

    • I would prefer a saline lock at this time.

During Labor

I would prefer …

  • To wear my own clothes

  • To eat and drink as long as medically possible

  • To play music/white noise/be quiet

  • To have dim lighting

  • To walk around/to stay in bed

  • To labor with a birthing ball/birthing bar.

Medical Interventions

I would prefer …

  • Artificial rupture of membranes/spontaneous rupture of membranes

  • IV when active labor starts/IV when medically necessary

  • Fetal monitoring continuously/intermittently

  • Electronic monitoring only/doppler monitoring only

  • Pitocin/Foley bulb to induce labor.

Pain Management

I would prefer …

  • Massage/counterpressure

  • Epidural as soon as possible/to be offered an epidural

  • Acupuncture

  • To labor in a shower/birthing tub

  • Nitrous oxide.

During Delivery

I would prefer …

  • To be guided through pushing/to push at my own pace

  • Squatting/side-lying/hands and knees/a birthing stool

  • To move through birthing positions with/without guidance

  • A mirror to see the baby’s head

  • Me/my partner to assist in catching the baby

  • Vacuum extraction/forceps if necessary

  • Episiotomy/natural tearing

  • My partner to cut the umbilical cord, if medically possible

  • Assisted/unassisted delivery of the placenta, if medically possible.

If a C-Section is Necessary

I would prefer …

  • To be conscious/to be sedated

  • The doctor does/does not verbalize each step of the procedure

  • The drape lowered/a clear drape to watch as my baby is born

  • My partner/support person to stay with me in the operating room

  • My baby placed on my chest immediately after birth

  • To initiate skin-to-skin contact/breastfeeding as soon as possible

Newborn Care

I would prefer …

  • Delayed umbilical cord clamping

  • To bank/to donate the cord blood

  • To keep the placenta

  • To initiate skin-to-skin contact/breastfeeding immediately

  • A lactation consultant to help me with breastfeeding

  • To/not to supplement with formula

  • To exclusively feed my baby formula

  • To give/not give my baby vitamin K

  • To use/not use antibiotic eye ointment on my baby

  • To keep my baby in my room/to allow my baby to sleep in the nursery

  • To offer/not offer my baby a pacifier

  • My baby’s first bath was performed by me/my partner/a nurse

  • Assistance with diapering/cleaning/dressing/swaddling my baby for the first time

  • My baby boy be/not be circumcised

  • The circumcision be performed by Dr. (Name).

Postpartum Care

I would prefer …

  • Pain medication scheduled/as needed

  • To allow/not allow visitors

  • As little interruption as possible to rest/bond with my baby

  • My baby be taken to the nursery while I rest

  • To shower/clean myself up as soon as possible

  • To go home as soon as possible/stay in the hospital/birthing center as long as possible.

Keep in mind that medical emergencies or complications can alter even the best-laid birth plans. It’s beneficial to know your preferences for the ideal scenario while still being flexible for a sudden change of plans.

Addressing these elements of labor, delivery, and medical requests, along with baby care, can help you feel prepared for your baby’s birth. You can write down your birth preferences to share with your birth team or use it as a list of topics you want to discuss with your doctor before the big day. Either way, you’ve already done a large load of the work ahead of time so you won’t have to think about it on delivery day.

At Nurture&, we strive to be your go-to for all things pregnancy and baby related. Discover more tips on motherhood in our journal. Check out our premium nursery furniture and baby products on the Nurture& site.

L. Elizabeth Forry

Medically reviewed: Gabriela Alvarado

Medical surgeon with certifications from Imperial College London and Johns Hopkins University. Committed to medical excellence, she has conducted several academic research projects that have contributed to the advancement of the field.

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