For me, having a birth plan template has always been a helpful way to research labor and delivery practices and imagine my ideal birthing situation. It’s also helped my husband dive into some of the detailed questions that come with the launch of parenthood. With him by my side, our birth plan has been a bonding experience in preparation for welcoming our child into the world.
The truth is, there are a lot of different ways you can give birth–in fact, there may be as many as 13 different types of birth you could encounter! And although birth plans are certainly not a guarantee to the type of birth you hope to have, having a birth plan template in mind can help you work through some of the questions you may have a first-time parent and better advocate for yourself during labor and delivery. Here are some tips for writing your own birth plan, along with a birth plan template that can help you get started.
What is a Birth Plan Template?
A birth plan is a document that contains your preferences, goals, and hopes for your baby’s birth. It helps serve as a guide for your birth team by outlining your preferences for your birthing atmosphere, pain management, postpartum care, and newborn procedures. Our birth plan template can help you clearly write your own birth plan with your preferences.
Your birth plan can be shared with your partner and reviewed with your care provider, doula, and any other support persons who may be part of your labor and birth so they can advocate on your behalf when you are fully focused on bringing your baby earth side.
Of course, when labor actually begins things might change, but outlining the details of your birth wishes is a helpful process before you are full term. Curious how to get started? Keep scrolling for Truly Mama’s birth plan template—it’s a great starting place for thinking through your and your baby’s birth experience.
What a Birth Plan Should Cover?
Just like all the phases of pregnancy, there are many things to consider before those first contractions begin. Knowing your options beforehand, and some of the subsequent decisions that will need to be made, is important for seeing through your path to parenthood. Take it from us—it’s a lot easier to decide what you want before those first contractions hit!
A birth plan is highly personal, but in general, your birth plan should include the following elements:
Your contact information
A birth plan should always begin with a brief introduction and important contact information. Include your care provider, the family/friend phone tree you plan to inform them when labor begins, emergency contact, childcare contact if this is not your first, doula, birth photographer, and any other key members of your birthing team.
Next , you will want to outline any specific preferences you may have labor. Think through how you want the room to smell and feel, who should be present, what you want to wear, and how you want to be interacted with. If there’s something that is very important to you—like dimmed lights or aromatherapy—list it out.
Although interventions may be necessary depending on how your labor goes, it’s important that you think through any thoughts you have on what interventions you’d like to avoid if possible. For instance, some interventions—like a scalp lead to measure your baby’s heart rate—will limit your movement or require more/less monitoring, so it’s helpful to know that ahead of time.
Early in my birth study a childbirth instructor taught me the B.R.A.T. method when it comes to making decisions and it applies so well to deciding your birth preferences during labor. With each option ask: what are the Benefits, what are the Risks, what are the Alternatives, and finally, ask can I have some Time to decide.
Consider epidural and medication preferences as well as the timeline for each. Do you want your epidural right away, or do you prefer to wait until you are more dilated in your labor?
After your little one is born a whole new line up of decisions will be presented to you. Here is where you can request immediate skin-to-skin, delayed cord clamping or cord blood banking procedures, who should cut the cord, placenta preferences, first bath thoughts, and breastfeeding or formula plans. You will also want to detail out your decision on vitamin K, eye ointment, and the hepatitis B vaccination.
Finally, although it can be difficult to consider, your birth plan should end with a back-up plan. In the scenario that your birth plan does not go as planned, what are your thoughts about the next best options? For example, if your home birth turns into a transfer or if your low-intervention hospital birth results in a Cesarean –how will your primary preferences adapt?
Last, but not least, don’t forget to print copies of your birth plan and get it to all those who will be part of your special day. Discuss your plan at a third trimester appointment and then begin your birth day with the best of intentions while maintaining a flexible perspective on how things might play out.
Birth Plan Template
- Pregnant Person’s Name
- (Home Birth, Birth Center, VBAC, Water, Hospital) Birth Plan
- Due Date/Guess Window
Example: Thank you for attending my birth—I am so grateful for your support. This is my second baby—we are expecting a boy whom we plan to name Wilder James. His big sister, Emma, can’t wait to meet him! My labor with Emma was very long and I have tried my best to process that experience and come into Wilder’s birth with a fresh, renewed perspective. I took a Hypnobirthing class to prepare for Wilder’s birth and hope to listen to tracks throughout labor.
- Pregnancy number/past birth experiences
- Siblings, if any
- Relevant hopes/concerns you want known/highlighted
- GBS status, Rh status, gestational diabetes status, etc.
- Primary Care Provider
- Childcare Contact
- Describe your ideal room: music, lighting, white noise, essential oil diffuser, comfort touches
- Clothing preferences: would you prefer your own clothing or to wear the hospital gown?
- Pain management plan: water, counter pressure, massage, movement, aromatherapy, breathing, visualization, temperature, epidural, etc.
- Eating and drinking preferences: would you like to eat freely and any dietary restrictions?
- Do you prefer intermittent or continuous fetal monitoring, internal or external, or only as needed?
- Vaginal exam frequency/preference: if exams are done, do you want to be told the results?
- Pushing position: in bed, hands and knees, birthing stool, water birth, side-lying, birth bar, standing, leaning on partner, etc.
- Preference for: artificial rupture of membranes, forceps, vacuum, or episiotomy?
- What kind of perineal support would you like? massage, warm compress, olive oil?
- Do you want a mirror while pushing?
- Guided or spontaneous pushing?
- Will you be performing delayed cord clamping? Any cord blood banking? Who will cut the cord?
- Delayed newborn procedures for skin-to-skin with a parent?
- Breastfeeding, pumping or formula wishes:
- Pumping plan if baby visits the NICU:
- Newborn procedure options: Vitamin K, eye ointment, Hepatitis B?
- Do/do not offer: sugar water, pacifier, formula
- Baby bath plan: would you prefer to delay baby’s first bath?
- What visitors are welcome (as COVID rules allow):
In Case of Cesarean
- Gentle C-section practices: To stay awake, hands free, screen lowered, skin to skin?
- Post birth: Who will stay with mom? Who will go with baby if necessary?
- Do you want baby to have a vaginal swab?
Include any additional and relevant information you’d like your birthing team to be aware of.
Use Truly Mama’s free birth plan template to create your own custom birth plan!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a birth plan necessary?
No. Births happen every single day without a birth plan, but a birth plan empowers you to think through and write down your ideal birth situation and ensure your preferences are communicated to your birthing team.
How long should a birth plan be?
Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to keep your birth plan to one or two pages to keep it easy to read and convey key information.
How do I create a birth plan?
Truly Mama has created a template for outlining your birthing hopes and dreams. And no matter if you use a birth plan template or not, remember: the best plan is the one that leads you to your baby.
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