The birth plan template is a funny thing. People will tell you that births rarely go to plan, so why would you take the time to write a birth plan?
Five Reasons Why Birth Plan Template Is a MUST:
1. Birth plans are a calming exercise.
There are so many variables out of your control as a pregnant woman. Who knows when the baby will arrive? How long labor will be? What delivery is like? Will there be traffic on the way to the hospital? What if labor stalls? What if the doctor wants to speed labor? Creating a birthing plan is an exercise in mentally preparing yourself for the birthing experience, and getting yourself mentally prepared for each possible option.
2. Birth plans put all of the possibilities in front of you.
What methods are you okay with for speeding labor, if necessary? Deciding what treatments you’d like for your newborn after birth is a thing, too. Delayed cord clamping versus cord blood banking, vaccines, etc. Knowing your options and where you stand on them is a major benefit that comes from creating your birth plan.
3. Birth plans will show you how much goes into birth.
When you see all of the possible options and decisions you can make, it’s easy to see why hospitals have a conveyor belt-like precision to deliveries. If they can control all the variables they can, it makes the process easier for them. That doesn’t, however, mean that it’s the best delivery experience for you. Looking at the ins and outs of the birthing process will help you decide what you DO and DON’T want for yourself and your baby. The first step to getting what you want out of your delivery is to know what you want. Creating your birth plan will help you do that.
4. Birth plans can open discussions with your birthing partner.
Perhaps you haven’t discussed circumcision. Maybe your birth partner doesn’t know how important delayed cord clamping is to you. Creating a birth plan can be a great partner activity. At the least, showing your birth plan to your partner so they can advocate for you in the hospital is essential.
5. Birth plans to communicate your specific birth desires to the hospital staff.
Nurses and doctors are prepared to deliver babies to their own specifications. The only way to attempt to make sure they know your desires is to have it in writing. When you’re in the midst of labor pain, you’re not likely to remember everything you want or don’t want. You also don’t want to have to spend the time communicating the same things repeatedly to the various staff.
What Do You Need to Know About Birth Plans?
1. Be flexible. It’s called a plan, but deliveries often DON’T go to plan.
If you can view your birth plan as the ideal set of circumstances, but also prepare yourself to do whatever is best for yourself and your baby, you’ll have a great perspective heading into your delivery.
2. Keep it short.
Nurses and doctors aren’t interested in reading a birth plan. Some, in fact, won’t read it at all. (Their priority is This makes it all the more important to keep it as brief as possible. Like a job resume, it needs to stay under one page and be an easy to read font and format.
3. Pick your priorities.
Is a silent birth most important? Do you want that epidural as soon as possible? Are you against any intervention whatsoever? Put that at the top. Then, put as little else as you can on the paper so there’s less to concern the staff.
What You Don’t Want
You don’t want multiple pages, “choose your adventure” style birth plan. First off, no one will read it. Secondly, it’s too complicated for hospital staff to follow. They will not be referencing your plan. Let’s be real- we’re lucky if they read and remember the basics of your birth plan.
You also don’t want to be so dedicated to your specific plan that if your birth experience doesn’t go as you hope, you set yourself up for disappointment. Postpartum mourning for a birth experience not gone to plan can be avoided (or at least minimized) if you keep perspective when creating your plan.
Consider your birth plan an exercise in your ideal birth experience. Print it out and put it in your hospital bag. Then, release that you’ve done all you can and focus on your end goal: leaving the hospital with a healthy baby.
What Goes on a Birth Plan?
Your birth plan is whatever you make of it. For the highest chance of a doctor and nursing staff reading and paying attention to it, keep it minimal. As you’ll see as you look at the list below, there are details galore, so many in fact that you could actually make two separate lists, which is a very effective strategy.
One list for the hospital, and one for your birth partner, as they’ll be the one most likely to speak for you or notice what’s going on. As the one delivering the baby, you’ll be in discomfort and less likely to notice, for example, the clamping of the baby’s umbilical cord.
If you take the two separate list route, you’ll put the Newborn Procedures information on the one for your partner. Your partner will also be right there with the baby, and more alert than you, so they’ll be the one to say yes and no to each item as the hospital administers their newborn routine exams and vaccinations.
As you look at the options below, there will be some about which you’ll have no preference. In that case, leave it off the birth plan. Save your birth plan for items you truly have a preference about. For easy readability, put it in bullet form and keep it less than one page long.
- What methods would you prefer, if any?
- Who would you like in the room?
- Are you okay with medical students or residents attending your birth?
- Do you have lighting preferences (dimmed for delivery)?
- Do you have sound preferences (music or silence for delivery)?
- Pain Relief
- Would you like to be offered pain medications (if so, under what circumstances)?
- Would you like pain medication options to be discussed with you or your partner?
- Would you like private time to discuss your options?
- Are you okay with an IV for hydration?
- Would you like continuous, intermittent, or minimal fetal monitoring (usually done by a heart monitor attached to a band around your belly)?
Second Stage Labor
- Would you like instruction on how to push?
- Time limit (in hours) on pushing before medical intervention?
- Would you like an episiotomy or not?
- Would you like warm oil applied to your perineum to prevent tearing?
- Would you like to be told when to push or silence?
- Would you like lights dimmed for delivery?
- Would you like your baby caught by the doctor, your partner, or yourself?
- What are your preferences on immediate skin to skin and bonding time?
- Would you like the baby with your partner or in the nursery while you are in recovery?
- Immediately After Delivery
- Would you like delayed clamping of the umbilical cord?
- Would you like your partner to cut the cord?
- Are you okay with routine pitocin after delivery?
- Do you need the placenta saved to take home or for encapsulation?
- If the baby has any problems, would you like your partner to be with them at all times?
- Would you like newborn routine procedures performed immediately or after bonding time?
- Would you like antibiotics applied to your baby’s eyes or not?
- Would you like Vitamin K administered to your baby (do you have a preference in vaccination versus oral form)?
- Would you prefer your baby to receive all newborn vaccinations or have them postponed?
- Would you like your baby bathed immediately, postponed, or with your own non-toxic products?
- Would you like your baby circumcised?
- Would you like your baby to stay in the nursery or with you?
- Would you like your baby to be given formula or a pacifier, or exclusively breastfed?
- Would you like your baby to be given glucose (sugar water)?
For Your Personal Reference and Planning
- Before Labor Begins
- What are your preferences for being induced?
- What are your preferences for vaginal exams?
- Hospital Stay
- Would you like it as short or as long as possible?
Above all else, make sure your birth support team knows your preferences so they can advocate for you.