How to Write a Birth Plan

how to write a birth plan

Whether it’s your first baby or your fourth, giving birth should be a joyful experience. It can also be overwhelming, scary, exciting and just about every other emotion you can imagine–sometimes at all once.

A good way to channel those emotions into something productive is to write a birth plan that outlines your preferences for the birth of your child. Include your partner in the process to ensure that you are both on the same page and that he/she feels comfortable advocating for you if needed.

Birth plan framework

Your birth plan should be as short and concise as possible, while still conveying all necessary information. Bullet point format works well. To guide you, here are the sections you should include:

  • Section 1: Key Contacts

This section should include the names and phone numbers for all the key people that will be involved in your delivery including your name, your partner’s name (if applicable), the baby’s name if you have already chosen one, your obstetrician or midwife and your pediatrician. Also, include the names of those you expect to be present at your delivery and those you do not want at your delivery. Be sure to ask your doctor how many people are allowed in the delivery room.

  • Section 2: Labor and Pain Relief

This section is for more than whether or not you would like an epidural, but also for your preferences regarding the use of Pitocin and if you would like to use specific birthing positions or props. If you previously had a negative experience with a method of pain control during delivery, divulge what happened and how you would like to avoid that this time.

  • Section 3: Delivery and Back-up plan

While a C-section is rarely ever a woman’s first choice for delivery method, you should be prepared in the event it is deemed medically necessary. Factors to consider include your preference regarding the use of any medications that may alter your level of consciousness. In this section, you should also address your wishes regarding an episiotomy, delayed cord clamping, cord blood donation or private cord banking.

  • Section 4: Newborn Care

Do you want to hold your baby skin-to-skin immediately after delivery, even if you have a C-section? If so, you need to state this in your birth plan. In this section, you should also include any preferences you have about breastfeeding, antibiotic eye ointment, baby’s first bath, the location of newborn screenings, vaccines and the use of a pacifier. For example, you can state: “Pacifiers are fine unless the baby is having trouble with latch, in which case I will request no pacifier.”

  • Section 5: Postpartum Care

Specify what pain medications do or don’t work for you and if there are certain laxatives or stool softeners you prefer.

Questions to consider

Using the above framework as a guide to layout your birth plan, the American Pregnancy Association recommends asking yourself the following questions and skipping any that do not pertain to you:

  • Who do you want to be present?
  • Do you want a doula?
  • Are you wishing to delay the cord clamping for baby?
  • Do you want immediate skin to skin contact?
  • Do you wish to breastfeed immediately after birth?
  • Do you want mobility, or do you wish to stay in bed?
  • What activities or positions do you plan to use? (walking, standing, squatting, hands and knees)
  • Do you prefer a certain position to give birth?
  • What will you do for pain relief? (massage, hot and cold packs, positions, labor imagery, relaxation, breathing exercises, tub or Jacuzzi, medication)
  • How do you plan to stay hydrated? (sips of drinks, ice chips, IV)
  • Do you want to take pain medications, or not? Do you have a preference for certain pain medications?
  • What are your preferences for your baby’s care? (when to feed, where to sleep)
  • Do you want to listen to music and have focal points?
  • Do you want to use the tub or shower?
  • If you need a cesarean, do you have any special requests?

Be Flexible

It’s important to remember that nothing about giving birth is predictable. Your birth plan will serve as a guide for everyone directly involved in the birth, but things don’t necessarily always go according to plan no matter how well thought out and organized that plan is. Be flexible and trust that your care team’s top priority is your health and safety as well as the health and safety of your baby.

Consult your physician

At Triangle Physicians for Women, we strive to do our absolute best to achieve your birth plan goals. We look forward to discussing your birth plan with you and for welcoming your new baby into our practice.

As a collaborative practice combining the expertise of board-certified OB/GYNs and Certified Nurse Midwives, the team at Triangle Physicians for Women believes all expectant parents should feel empowered to make the best decisions about their care based on their individual needs. To schedule an appointment at either our Cary or Holly Springs, North Carolina locations, call (919) 678-6900.

Additional Resources

I think Dr. Grana and her assistant (Mandy) are the best. I have been going to TP4W for years – at least 20, and I have never been disappointed with the level of care I have received. I can be a challenge as my level for pain tolerance is low and they put up with me! I can’t help but highly recommend the practice to anyone looking for exemplary women’s healthcare.

Love love love Dr. Grana and her crew. Love going to Holly Springs office. The girls are the best from Lisa at the front desk to all the girls in the back. Your music and atmosphere is great. Thanks for making these appointments fun!! Yes believe it or not, fun!!!

Dr V and the office staff were all very professional, understanding, caring and very efficient. I would be happy to recommend this practice to friends, family and associates. – Barbara M. Lucas

My visit was great! & my past visit have all been great.Kristy helped me even with me being a bit stressed & in a hurry because I had to be seen & my job is super strict. Her urgency to get me seen was phenomenal. I even got to see Heather, she’s awesome & amazing. She helped deliver my baby girl a year ago. My whole family loves her and Dr Sheshadri. We actually can’t wait to get pregnant again hahaha. Everyone treats you with respect and always makes sure your okay & answers whatever questions you have before you leave. Even leaving a message for the nurses,they get back to you so quickly.  This practice really makes you feel taken care of.  We appreciate you all!  – Erika Hooks

My experience with the TP4W staff has been top of the line.  They helped me through three pregnancies and coached me through every step of the way.  Eternally thankful I chose TP4W.  – Britney

TP4W have such amazing doctors, midwives and nurses.  I cannot say enough about Dr. Grana and the rest of the staff for all the help, advice, guidance and medical care they provided me with all of my kids.  She made me feel safe and calm through both c-sections.  My routine care and pregnancy care have always been top notch and I would recommend them to anyone looking for an OBGYN.  – Brooke

We were honored to receive a hand written note..

Dr. Grana, Angie, Jessica, Heather, April, Sarah and the rest of the staff –

Thank you all so much for taking such good care of me through both of my pregnancies and births, especially my latest one on 10/29! most of yall know how nervous I was from having gone through a lot (to say the least) with my first in 2016. You all made me feel so comfortable and at ease before, during and after. And going through a touch year with my dad, you guys always asked how he was doing at every appointment, which was so thoughtful and beyond your job description. I know that you all see many women go through what i did each and every day and deliver many babies and perform many c-sections. But I hope you know how special Ruby’s delivery was to me. You all have amazing jobs! I cannot thank you all enough. Merry Christmas!

Love, Lucy

I have been going to TP4W since 2010/11 and could not be happier.

The staff, nurses, midwives, and doctors are all amazing. I have 2 sons, both delivered via cesarean by Dr. V. Every visit and every provider did everything in their power to give me the birth experience I wanted, and also ensure that myself and my babies were safe and healthy. Dr. V even did everything in his power to help me avoid my first c-section and VBAC with the second, but that turned out to be out of his hands and he was the absolute best surgeon. With my two pregnancies, I experienced a few scares and some unusual circumstances that would be too long and too private to write in a review, but every single hurdle was handled with grace, honesty, and professionalism. I am so thankful for the recommendation from a friend to come to this office. I can’t imagine ever going to another practice.

TP4W is amazing and I am so very thankful I found them 9 years ago!! Amazing partnership between midwives and doctors, sweet nurses and front end staff, and relaxing environment. I literally recommend them to all my friends! I look forward to my appointments and feel like I’m going to catch up with old friends.

I’ve always had wonderful experiences at TP4W. Everyone is friendly, knowledgeable, and thorough in their care. April delivered my son and I can’t say enough wonderful things about her. She is patient and compassionate. I had the best labor and delivery experience thanks to her. I do and will continue to recommend them to my friends and family!