What is a birth plan?

A birth plan is a document that you and your partner work on together to help inform your care providers about your preferences for labor, birth, and postpartum. This is especially useful for a hospital birth when you will likely encounter care providers that you’ve never met before.

When I was planning for my homebirths, I had a comprehensive birth plan that covered every single aspect of labor, birth, afterbirth care and feeding of the baby and then I had a shorter version that was intended for use only if I was transferred to the hospital.

For hospital births I recommend a short and easy to read (think bullet points) birth plan because the staff is likely dealing with several patients at once won’t be able to take the time to read a bunch of paragraphs. You can download that an easy checklist at the bottom of this post.

Topics to cover in your birth plan

Labor – positions, pain management, environment, any drugs you do not want to have offered, episiotomy, c section preferences.

After the Birth – how to handle baby’s care, preferences if hemorrhage occurs, what to do with the placenta, feeding of baby, cutting the cord.

If you want to see a more in depth birth plan, here is the birth plan that I created for my first birth in the event that I was transferred to a hospital.

Hospital Birth Plan

Labor/Birth

  • I would like my husband and my midwife to stay with me at all times including in surgery if it becomes necessary.
  • Please do not offer me Pethidine/Demerol as I am concerned about the possible effect on my state of mind and my baby’s health.
  • I would like to keep an open mind about pain relief options and be consulted before any drug is administered.
  • I would like to avoid a caesarean section if at all possible as I do not want to enter future pregnancies with a scarred uterus.
  • I would particularly like to avoid a caesarean just for slow progress.
  • As long as the baby is not in immediate danger, please encourage me to keeping going and to try different positions and techniques.
  • Please do not offer a caesarean unless my baby is in immediate danger.
  • If a caesarean becomes necessary, I would prefer an epidural to general anesthesia so that I can meet my baby immediately after birth.
  • Please do not administer an episiotomy. I would prefer to tear naturally.
  • Please do not use a vacuum or forceps for delivery unless absolutely necessary and after discussing it with me.
  • I do not agree to student doctors being present during my treatment and would like to minimize the number of people coming in and out of my room as I fear it will impede my labor process.
  • Please pass my baby to me immediately after birth for skin to skin contact and nursing.
  • Please do not take my healthy baby to the nursery simply for observation.
  • I would like my baby to remain with me at all times.

If there are problems after the birth

  • If I suffer a severe postpartum hemorrhage, please do not perform a hysterectomy unless it is the only available course of action as I would like to have more children.
  • Please do not admit my baby to Special Care simply for observation, but only is there is a specific reason for concern.
  • I would like to stay with my baby.  If I am not able to, my husband should stay with the baby.

Care of baby at hospital

  • I would like the baby to remain with me in the room at all times unless there is a medical reason they must be taken away in which case I would like my husband to remain with the baby (if I am not able) during tests/treatment.

Baby Feeding

  • I plan to exclusively breastfeed my baby.
  • Please do not give my baby supplements, formula, sugar-water, or a pacifier.
  • If I or the baby cannot nurse, I would like to express breast milk which should be given to the baby by spoon or dropper.
  • Please do not give my baby a bottle as I would like to avoid nipple confusion.

Going home

  • I would like to go home as soon after the birth as I am able to move, unless I or the baby has health problems which require further hospital treatment.

If you want to see a homebirth birth plan sample and an easy birth plan checklist, enter your email below and we will send them to you. Click return/enter/go after entering your email and you will be automatically signed up! Be sure to confirm your subscription to get your free downloads!

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