What Is A Birth Plan?
A birth plan is like a personal wish list of what you want to happen during your labor and delivery, and postpartum. With it, you’re basically telling everyone what you envision your labor experience to be like. Your birth plan should be no more than 1 page, ideally with bullet points. With a good birth plan template, you’ll be able to get that.
For example, if you have always dreamed of holding your baby the moment he/she is born, this is something that needs to go into your birth plan. If you don’t let people know, they’re going to default to what they usually do, which may be contrary to what you want.
Preparing a birth plan is not very complicated—you can do one with the help of a printable birth plan pdf or template. (A few birth plan examples are also provided below for your reference.)
To create your birth plan, you will need some time to sit down and think about what is important to you. By doing this, you identify any issues that bother you, as well as the things that are important to you. Now while creating a birth plan is important, you may not be able to get everything you want.
What you are able to get will depend on where you are giving birth. For example, a hospital may not have birthing tubs and exercise balls. Also, you may want a natural birth, but your doctor may advise against some of your preferences, particularly if you are high risk, or you experience a medical emergency. It is, therefore, important to prepare for the unexpected.
- Our birth plan template is easy to print; or
- This document is also a birth plan pdf. If you have a pdf editor on your computer, simply complete the birth plan template, and print it; or
- Download it, and open it up in a free, online pdf editor.
The Free Printable Tulamama birth plan template is comprehensive, yet only one page. (This is a big bonus because labor and delivery staff don’t have time to review lengthy birth plans.)
This birth plan template can be used for giving birth in a birthing center or a hospital. Simply check off the boxes that apply to you.
Creating Your Birth Plan
A typical birth plan template has 3 sections:
Before Birth & Delivery
Consider some of the following:
- Who will be allowed to be with you in the room? Apart from your husband/ partner, would you want your mom, a labor coach, a doula, your best friend?
- How do you want pain relief to be handled? Would you prefer an epidural or alternatives to pain medicine?
- Do you have any special requests about the lighting, noise, etc?
- Do you want to be in a labor bed, birthing tub, etc? (This will depend on what is available to you.)
- Will you want external and internal electronic fetal monitoring?
- What type of birth are you planning? Natural, c-section?
- Will the use of an IV or catheter be acceptable?
- Are you okay with them using oxytocin to induce or augment labor contractions?
- What is your position on interventions like vacuum extraction or forceps to assist in the birth of your baby?
- Would you want to try different birthing positions?
- Would you want to shower or bathe during labor?
- Will you want the ability to move around during labor?
- Are medical students allowed in your room?
During Birth And Delivery
Once your baby is born, how do you want those first few moments to unfold:
- If your baby’s gender is not known before birth, who should announce your baby’s gender? Your partner?
- Will you be holding your baby immediately after birth?
- Would you like to postpone the weighing and/or administering eye drops until after you and your baby greet each other?
- Who will cut the umbilical cord?
- Do you have any special requests around suctioning baby? For example, does dad want to suction his new baby?
- Do you have special requests around the placenta?
- Will you bank the cord blood?
- How soon after birth will your baby’s first feeding be?
- Will you breastfeed? If so, do you want a lactation consultant there to help you?
- If you don’t plan to breastfeed, who will feed your baby first?
Care For Your Newborn & Postpartum
Your baby is healthy. You are healthy. Now you have more decisions to make:
- Will your baby stay with you or in the nursery?
- Where will your partner and/or your other children stay after your baby is born?
- Will you nurse or pump, and have your baby drinking breast milk from a bottle?
- Will your baby be formula-fed?
- Will you allow your baby to have supplemental feedings of formula?
- Can your baby have a pacifier?
- Who will bathe your baby? Do you want someone to show you how to bathe your baby?
- If you are having a boy, will he be circumcised? If so, who will perform the circumcision?
- Will your baby be allowed to get vaccinations?
- What kind of support do you wish to have?
When Should You Create Your Birth Plan
Start creating your birth plan as early as the 32nd through the 36th week of your pregnancy.
If you have any questions, ask your obstetrician or midwife during your regularly scheduled visits.
Once you are done with your birth plan, talk it over with your doctor/ health care practitioner. He/she might have opinions on what is safe and advisable for you. If there are any changes you need to make, update your birth plan.
Make a few copies of your “approved birth plan” and give one to your obstetrician or midwife. This should ensure that your plan is part of your medical record. Place the rest in your hospital bag. This ensures that you have them available for the labor and delivery nursing team, and the post-birth nursing team.
Birth Plan Examples
Thanks to the birth plan pdf that we provide, it’s ridiculously easy for you to create a birth plan. All you do is check off all the things that you want. But even so, there are many moms who want to see examples of birth plans.
Below are two helpful examples of birth plans that you can emulate. These are typed out, so it would take you a little more time to create your own version. However, if a typed birth plan is important to you, it will be worth your time and effort.
Note From The Author
As soon as they were born, I held all my babies. Thanks to a birth plan, I was able to do that.
I also wanted to breastfeed exclusively, and again, thanks to the birth plan, that was accomplished… until I had the twins. They were born at 33 weeks. Reece was 5lbs 4oz, Heidi was 4lbs 5oz.
Because they were so early, and underweight, their breastmilk needed to be fortified with formula. I didn’t like giving my babies formula but this was not about me—it was about what was best for my babies. So instead of exclusively nursing them, (as I did the others), I had to pump milk, and formula had to be added to their bottles. So in their first few weeks of life, they were nursed and drank from bottles. Once they gained enough weight, we said goodbye to the formula.
One more story…
With my second born, I was getting heavy contractions while I was trying to walk into the hospital.
Somehow we make it to the triage nurse, and I earnestly try to explain to her that this baby is coming… now! She ignores me, perhaps she thought I was exaggerating. She finally gets us into the room and walks out to go get the IV, the doctor, etc. She didn’t make it far, because I asked my husband to get her back immediately.
So I had my second born with no IV, my baby was delivered by strangers, and I got nothing that I had envisioned for the labor. But that’s okay—I got to hold my baby immediately after the birth, and we nursed shortly after that.
My point with telling you these stories is that a birth plan helps—it is a great guideline. I recommend everyone creates one. (You may notice from our free printable birth plan pdf, that we put a lot of effort into creating a easy yet comprehensive birth plan that you can quickly complete.) However, things don’t always work out as you envision. In my humble opinion, that’s okay. I didn’t get all I wanted, but I got most of it… thanks to the birth plan.
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