How to Write a Birth Plan: A Step-by-Step Guide

Are you or someone close to you expecting a new arrival? Planning ahead for the big day starts long before your little one gets here – and that includes crafting a birth plan. Writing up an outline of expectations, preferences, and rules provides greater peace of mind as you prepare for a baby's first moments in life. To help ensure everything runs smoothly on delivery day, we've prepared a step-by-step guide on how to write a complete and comprehensive birth plan. Learn what should be included, questions to consider throughout the process, and tips so read through this blog post now!

What is a Birth Plan?

Are you pregnant and wondering what a birth plan is? It's a document that outlines your preferences for delivery and labor. This can include everything from pain management options to postpartum care for you and your newborn. Creating a birth plan can help you feel more in control of your birth experience, but it's also important to remember that unexpected events can occur. However, including emergency procedures such as a C-section in your birth plan can still help guide your medical team even in unpredictable situations. Don't be afraid to discuss your birth plan with your healthcare provider and make sure to update it as necessary throughout your pregnancy.

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What Goes on a Birth Plan?

happy couple writing a birth plan

Even though it might seem challenging, doing your research before attempting to draft a birth plan is vital. It is in your best interest to become as knowledgeable as you can about those facilities in advance if you're thinking about giving birth in a hospital, birthing facility, or at home. Ask for a list of their available options for pain relief and labor assistance without being afraid to ask. Delivery options need to be carefully thought out. Some hospitals offer assisted vaginal deliveries and VBAC procedures in addition to the more common vaginal and Cesarean births (VBAC). Include anything in your birth plan that will increase the comfort and ease of both your baby and you during and after labor.

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Writing a Birth Plan

The key is to keep it simple and easy to read. Your care team will be busy helping you through labor and delivery, so a concise birth plan is appreciated. Opt for one page with bullet points or highlights to make it easy to understand at a glance. Don't worry about including every little detail – focus on the most important aspects that matter most to you. Remember, this is your plan, and it's important to communicate your wishes so that you have the best birth experience possible.

Introduction of Birth Plan

While you may have discussed your preferences with your healthcare provider, having a written plan can ensure that everyone on your birthing team is aware of your wishes. In addition to outlining your birth preferences, it's important to also include any necessary medical information. This includes whether you're planning on a vaginal or c-section delivery, if this is your first time giving birth, and any medical conditions you may have such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia. It's also important to list your primary support person's contact information so that they can be reached if needed. By including this information in your birth plan, you can work towards having a smoother, more personalized birthing experience.

Labor Pain Management 

When it comes to planning a birth, one of the biggest decisions is whether or not to use medication for pain management. The most common options include epidurals, spinal blocks, opioids via IV, local anesthetic, and nitrous oxide. However, if you prefer to go the non-medicated route, there are plenty of options for pain relief as well. These include techniques like breathing, hot or cold compresses, massage and counterpressure, aromatherapy, hydrotherapy, meditation, movement, and even helpful tools like birthing balls or squat bars. It's important to have a plan in place, but also to remain flexible and open to adjustments as necessary. Ultimately, the goal is to have a positive birth experience for both mother and baby.

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Delivery Room Preferences

A birth plan that specifies your preferences for the delivery room should be in place before you give birth. Your preferences for the delivery room, which have a big impact on the atmosphere of your birthing experience, should be a major part of this plan. You should think about who you want in the room with you, the lighting level, any music or sound machines you want to use, clothing, touches from the medical staff, monitoring the baby's heart rate and movement, and the fluids you are permitted to drink. You can contribute to ensuring that your birth experience is more personalized and fulfills your needs and preferences by communicating your preferences to your medical team.

Delivery Options

When it comes to writing a birth plan, it's important to consider all of your options for delivery. In addition to specifying your preferred method of delivery (whether it be vaginal, assisted vaginal, C-section, or VBAC), you may also want to think about the positions for pushing that you would feel most comfortable in. Some popular options include lying on your back, lying on your side, squatting, standing or leaning, kneeling/on all fours, or being in a birthing tub. Other delivery options to consider might include having a mirror to see the birth, choosing who will cut the cord, and specifying your preferences for skin-to-skin contact with your baby immediately after the birth. By outlining all of your delivery preferences in your birth plan, you can empower yourself to have as positive and empowering a childbirth experience as possible.

Plan for the Unexpected

husband kissing pregnant wife

When preparing your birth plan, make sure to consider all possibilities, even if you're planning for an unassisted vaginal birth. Your doctor may suggest the use of forceps, vacuum, or an episiotomy in the case of complications. If you're uncomfortable with any of these options, be sure to include your preferences in your birth plan. Additionally, if you end up needing an emergency C-section, there are several options you can request for your own comfort and peace of mind. These include vaginal seeding, different drape options, monitoring devices placed out of your field of vision, and gentle cesareans. A well-thought-out birth plan can help you feel empowered and prepared in any situation.

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Preparing For Labor

Writing a birth plan is an essential first step to welcoming your new bundle of joy into the world. Before making any decisions, it's important to discuss all available options with your healthcare provider. Having a clear plan before going into labor will reassure both you and your partner that your wishes are kept in mind and respected throughout the process. Remember, have open conversations with your health care provider prior to deciding on a plan and then follow through on that plan as much as possible.  Above all, don’t be afraid to trust your Instincts throughout this exciting journey! Congratulations on this huge milestone! If you'd like to learn more about caring for your baby once they arrive, be sure to check out our blog for advice and tips. We wish you all the best in these incredible coming weeks as you welcome your little one into the world!

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