How to Write a Birth Plan: Be Prepared for Baby’s Delivery

Birth plans that are concise and comprehensive will outline a mother's wishes for newborn care. Image by fviggiani

Birth plans that are concise and comprehensive will outline a mother’s wishes for newborn care. Image by fviggiani

For many first-time-moms, writing a birth plan sounds like too much work. How do you a write a birth plan that your caregiver and the nurses actually follow?  What should you include on your birth plan?

As a doula, I include a two-hour birth plan consultation for my clients. Why? Because in some instances, your birth plan may not be able to be followed exactly, so I consider it a good exercise for my clients to explore all the options that they may have in the in the delivery room.

I consider an informed mama an empowered mama; a mama that knows all her birth choices will be empowered to make choices that are best for her and her baby if she has to divert from her plan.

Birth Plans Prepare Mothers for Delivery

Free, comprehensive birth plans for expectant mothers are widely available online. Some birth plans offer the option to check boxes and print out the plan, but I wouldn’t stop there. If you want your plan to be effective, pack a punch, and to get the point across to doctors, nurses, and support staff, here is a game plan to follow:

  1. Find a birth plan online and copy and paste it to a Word document.  
  2. Print the Word document.
  3. Follow through the birth plan page by page. Make annotations and notes for procedures that you may not understand. Make sure you are knowledgeable about any routine and occasional procedures.
  4. Do online research yourself on procedures you may not know about, hire a doula, and/or ask your caregiver in order to understand all your childbirth options. Make sure you have fully discussed and research any options that you are unaware of or don’t understand.  Also, find out which procedures are routine in your hospital and which are not.
  5. Once you have determined the way you would really like for your birth to be, create a one page bullet-point birth plan. 
  6. Take three copies of your birth plan with you to the hospital. Have one for your midwife or doctor, one for the nurses, and another one for yourself and your support person.

Childbirth Planning During Pregnancy

When writing a birth plan, make sure to include procedures that you would like that may be out of the ordinary. For example, some hospitals do not practice delayed cord clamping. If you desire to delay cord clamping for your child, this would be something that you must include in your plan. On the other hand, you would not need to include other procedures that are often routine, such the vitamin K shot, since the hospital staff always do this with newborns.

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Get Ready for Baby

If possible, keep your birth plan to a one-page, bulleted list, and talk to your birth team about your preferences before you start having contractions. Since childbirth can be a busy time and it is important that all your wishes are followed as closely as possible, it is appropriate to limit the pages of your birth plan so that your birth team may actually read it, and are more likely to understand it. Your doctors, nurses, doula, and support team will appreciate the detailed plan so that they can easily follow your wishes.

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