Birth Plan Template: How to Prepare for Childbirth   

Birth Plan Template: How to Prepare for Childbirth

Husband and pregnant wife sitting on the couch smiling and feeling the baby move, with hands on her belly.
Clinical Contributors to this story:
Sara Bittman, M.D.

Childbirth is a life-changing experience encompassing a broad range of feelings and emotions. Everyone’s experience is different, but it doesn’t have to be unknown or impersonalized. A birth plan can help expectant parents prepare and can be a guide for the experience.

“A birth plan is a plan that states the patients’ wishes during and immediately after labor,” says Sara Bittman, M.D., assistant program director of OB/GYN Residency atHackensack University Medical Center. A birth plan helps patients understand their options during labor and delivery and educates them on what to expect.

Birth plans also help the medical personnel know clearly what the patients’ preferences are.

What You Should Include in a Birth Plan

You can approach a birth plan in the way that is most comfortable to your situation.

Birth plans can be done on a high level and include only basic information such as:

  • Who will be present for the birth
  • Pain management preferences
  • Basic high-level after-delivery decisions such as breastfeeding

Birth plans can also be more detailed, including details such as:

  • Atmosphere choices such as room lighting or music you may want to play during labor and delivery
  • Positions or props that you want to use, such as a yoga ball or birthing chair
  • Delivery options such as using a mirror and counting or no counting while pushing
  • Cord decisions such as delayed clamping, who’s going to cut the cord and if you are going to store your baby’s cord blood (storage of the cord blood will need to be prearranged)
  • After-birth possibilities such as immediate skin-to skin or having the baby cleaned first

Going off Script During Labor and Delivery

“Care teams try their best to honor birth plans, but this is easiest and safest in an uncomplicated labor and delivery,” says Dr. Bittman. “If things become complicated, the medical team may not be able to honor the plan. Our job is to make sure everyone is safe, so expectant parents need to remain flexible.”

You may also want to change the plan as your labor and delivery progress given the circumstances and how the process is going for you. The birth plan is a guide. It’s not only changeable due to medical needs, you can choose to change it, too—and that’s OK.

When to Create a Birth Plan

Even if there is a possibility that a birth plan can’t be followed exactly, they do make the process smoother because you can educate yourself and your partner on what the process will look like and what options are available. It will also prevent confusion and moments of stress if everyone clearly knows a few basic things such as:

  • Who’s to be in the delivery room and who’s not
  • Who will be cutting the cord
  • How pain will be managed

“It’s best to create a birth plan and then share it with your doctor at a prenatal visit. This will allow you to discuss it with your doctor to make sure it is feasible and see if the hospital can accommodate all your preferences,” says Dr. Bittman.

To download our birth plan template as a PDF, click here. 

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.


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