What is a Birth Plan?

A birth plan is a list of all of preferences and choices for the birth of your baby that you share with your care provider. A birth plan helps everybody understand how YOU want the birth of your child to run.

Why Have a Birth Plan?

Want a drink of tea? Here’s some herbal tea with lots of honey. You don’t like tea with honey? Oh! you don’t like tea at all?  Well, sorry – that’s our standard beverage when you are getting tired during labor. If you wanted something different, we would have loved to have known beforehand!

What if the item in question wasn’t a cup of tea, but your baby’s birth: the culmination of nine months of waiting and wondering – and the beginning of an incredible new life?

Sample Birth Plan
Download a printable PDF of a sample birth plan

A lot of moms have decided that they would like to have a say in the matter, and have created birth plans to serve that purpose. Such a plan is a simple and non-confrontational way for you to make your preferences for your pregnancy and birth clear to everyone who will be with you on the big day (or days, as the case may be).

There are so many choices to make and things to consider – from whether or not you want to give birth in a birth pool, to how long you want to stay at the birth center after the birth. Making your voice heard is important.  Your preferences for everything you can think of are important, each care provider does things just a little bit differently, and without a plan, you may be given the ‘default’ settings – whatever they might be.

Still, you may have questions. Below, we address some of the most typical concerns regarding the birth plan:

I’m not a professional – what if I specify something in my plan that ends up hurting the baby or me?
A birth plan discusses your preferences, expecting a routine birth. A birth plan will never override medically necessary procedures.  You need to discuss any foreseeable differences between your preferences and what your care provider can do.

If I have a plan, my care provider might think I’m questioning her professional judgment.
They will be happy to have your input and pleased that you have taken the time to put together a birth plan. It demonstrates that you have educated yourself and that you are interested in taking an active role in your pregnancy and birth.

I talked with my care provider about my feelings about the birth. Isn’t that enough?
It may not be, as there are several people who need to understand your preferences.  Care providers can also forget or get your preferences mixed up with someone else!  Help them! Also, your doula, birth coach and anyone else present at your birth will enjoy knowing just how to meet your heart’s desire.  Save the all time by making a birth plan that can be shared with others when they arrive.

I like the idea of a plan, but what if I change my mind about something? Won’t I be stuck?
A birth plan is a statement of preferences, not a binding contract. If you change your mind about something – such as the need to give birth on the birth stool, or birthing pool, who else is allowed in for the birth, your latest wishes should be respected.

Even the best birth plan won’t take the place of self-education or good communication with your care provider, but it can make for a much more rewarding birth experience and fond memories of your child’s entry into the world.

A Sample Birth Plan