Learn how to write a birth plan with these tips and examples on what to include. Writing a birth plan doesn’t have to be stressful or overwhelming!
Are you expecting a baby soon? Congratulations! One of the most important things to do during your pregnancy is narrow down what kind of birthing experience you’d like to have.
It sounds stressful, I know. You spend your entire pregnancy planning and preparing for your big day, so it feels like a huge pressure on your shoulders.
Don’t worry! It’s not nearly as hard or scary as it seems. Birth plans for first time moms, or even women who have had babies before are simple, and come down to a few key points and topics, which I’ll go over below.
Many women wonder if birth plans are even necessary. They believe writing one may cause them to get upset if things don’t go according to plan. And the truth is, it’s really up to you! You don’t need to write a birth plan. If you’d rather go into the hospital or birthing center without one, you’ll be alright. Many moms go into early labor before they’ve even had the chance to write one, and things turn out just fine.
However, chances are you feel strongly about at least a few key points when it comes to your birth and postpartum care. Writing a quick birth plan is the simplest way to get your ideas across to your team of doctors, nurses, or midwives.
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First, let’s answer some commonly asked questions.
What Is A Birth Plan and Why Is It Important?
A birth plan is an outline that covers the preferences of a pregnant woman’s labor and delivery experience. It should cover the main points, such as pain management methods, down to the expectations on how you’d like the doctor, midwife, or nurses to handle the first few moments of your baby’s life.
It’s important to keep your birth plan as short and simple as possible, with the understanding that things may not go according to plan.
Birth is beautiful and special, and you deserve to have things go the way you want them to, within reason. And it’s important to let the team know what your expectations and preferences are. Ultimately, they will do what they need to do to ensure both you and the baby have a healthy delivery.
What Should Be Included In A Birth Plan?
To be completely honest with you, my birth plan for my firstborn was a handwritten bullet point list with about 6 things. I have friends who had 2-page birth plans with every case-scenario written out in detail.
You don’t have to go all out, unless you want to! Write down all of the preferences that mean a lot to you.
Generally, a birth plan consists of a few major points, with some variation from person to person:
- Contact Information
- Your Birthing Position
- Pain Relief
- Whether or Not You’re Open To an Episiotomy
- Personal Preferences (like music and lighting)
- People Allowed In The Room (or people you don’t want in the room)
- When To Weigh The Baby
- Breastfeeding, Pumping, or Formula
- Whether or Not You Want Your Baby To Go To The Nursery
Scroll down for more things to add to your birth plan.
Do You Have To Write A Birth Plan?
No, not really! When you’re admitted to labor and delivery, you can fill the nurses in on your preferences, and your doctor should be aware of your expectations as well. But, always keep in mind that your doctor or midwife likely delivers at least a few babies a month. Even the most engaged doctors may forget the specifics of your birth plan. It’s nice for them to be able to quickly look over your preferences at a moment’s notice.
Do I Need A Birth Plan For A C-Section?
Of course! C-sections may not be everyone’s top choice for birth, considering the healing process is so much harder than a vaginal delivery. But if you’re having a scheduled c-section, you should still write a birth plan. The doctors, nurses, or midwives will do everything in their power to follow your plan and make sure your birthing experience goes as close to your vision as possible.
Besides, the actual labor and delivery is just a small section of the entire experience. You’ll still need to fill the team in on your postpartum preferences regarding both you and the baby.
How To Write A Birth Plan
Where To Start When Writing A Birth Plan
Start by quickly jotting down everything that pops into your mind when you think of your ideal birthing experience. These obviously mean the most to you, since they were at the forefront of your mind. You’re likely to forget a few points, but that’s where my guide comes into play. I’ll make sure you don’t miss anything!
Hit All The Big Points
- Natural or Medicated (If you’re interested in preparing or learning about natural birth, check out this course by a labor and delivery nurse. It’s extremely thorough and amazing! I can’t recommend it enough.)
- Vaginal or C-Section (if you have a preference, or it’s something your doctors can accommodate.)
- Do you want an episiotomy if necessary?
- Who do you want in the room?
- Who is cutting the cord?
- Are you donating or saving the cord blood?
- Do you want your partner to catch the baby?
- Do you want fetal monitoring?
- Will there be a photographer present?
- Is there anyone you don’t want in the room?
- What birthing position do you prefer? Are there any that you don’t want to do?
- Do you plan on utilizing the nursery, or do you want the baby to stay in the room with you?
- Do you want to walk, bathe, or bounce on a ball during labor?
- What personal preferences do you have? Music? Special items from home?
- What do you want the doctor or midwife to do with the baby immediately after they’re born? Hand them to you or take measurements?
- Do you want your water to break naturally? Or are you okay with the doctor breaking it?
- Are there any medications or shots you don’t want your baby to have? Such as the vitamin k shot or eye medication?
- Do you want to do delayed cord clamping?
- Do you want to give your baby a pacifier?
- Do you need any help with baby care while you’re at the hospital or birthing center? (Learning how to feed, burp, change, etc.)
- Is your baby boy getting a circumcision that day?
- Do you plan on breastfeeding, pumping, or providing formula?
- Are you saving your placenta?
- Do you want to give the baby a bath or let the vernix stay on?
- Do you want an hour of skin to skin time immediately following birth?
- Would you like to have a mirror to see the birth?
- Do you want any treatments or medications to move the labor along faster?
- Are you okay with the use of forceps or vacuum extraction?
When In Doubt, Talk To Your Doctor or Midwife
When you feel like you’re missing some big points or birthing options, talk to your doctor or midwife. They’ll be able to run through your options and go over your wants and needs.
Birth Plan Options
Simple One Page Birth Plan
Simple birth plans are where it’s at! But there’s no shame if you’re very specific about your care, and you aren’t able to fit it all on one page. Ideally, you should make it as easy to follow as possible. If it gets to be too long, try breaking it up with bullet points and bold text. Break out the highlighters if you have to!
Visual Birth Plan
Visual birth plans are a great way to organize your preferences for easy viewing. MamaNatural has an awesome visual birth plan template, or if you can even make your own! Etsy has some pretty looking templates and icons as well.
Tips For Writing A Birth Plan
Use Concise Language, But Be Personable and Friendly
Be friendly and nice in your birth plan! The last thing you want to do is come off as demanding and rude to the people caring for you and your newborn. You’re allowed to be picky, but you can achieve what you want without coming off as snarky. “Pleases” and “thank you’s” go a long way to make you birth team feel appreciated, and it’s not silly to add them to your birth plan. They’ll appreciate it!
Try A Birth Plan App
If you want even more guidance writing your birth plan, you could give an app a try! Birth Plan Plus seems to be a popular choice, and it creates an easy-to-read PDF for you to email or print. It walks you through your preferences, making the process super simple for you!
Look at Birth Plan Templates For Inspiration
If I receive enough requests, I’ll create a customizable birth plan template for my readers. For the time being, I’ve found them to be unnecessary for the most part. There are plenty of options available on the internet, and most people end up writing their own anyway. It seems to over-complicate the process of writing a birth plan. It doesn’t have to take you long to write one up!
However, if you have any questions or requests, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected], and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.
Interested in breastfeeding your baby? There’s so much to learn!
Are you in the process of writing your birth plan? Which topics are most important to you when it comes to your birthing experience? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you!
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