Skip to main content

How to create a birth plan: Your complete guide

Know what a birth plan is and how to make one so your delivery goes as smoothly as possible

Pregnant couple cuddling.
Ground Picture / Shutterstock

The planning and preparation when having a baby are never ending. Deciding on names, a nursery theme, getting the nursery ready, throwing a baby shower, getting the hospital bag ready — it’s a lot. One thing you don’t want to skip over is making your birth plan. 

From who you want at the hospital with you to how you’ll manage pain — a birth plan checklist will be a help when having a baby. Here’s how to create a birth plan so you feel as prepared as you can be to give birth.

What is a birth plan?

A pregnant woman holding a laptop in her lap while holding her belly
MVelishchuk / Shutterstock

A birth plan is how you would ideally want the birth of your child to go. It includes everything like where you want to give birth, how, what you want in the room, and how you want to spend your time in the hospital. It is how you want your labor to go. Make it as detailed as you want, and change it as often as needed.

Why you should have one

If you are having your first baby, there are so many unknowns. You’re excited and scared at the same time. Having a plan written out to look at will be as much of a comfort as it will be beneficial. If this is your second (or third or fourth) child, your birth plan will be less stressful to make, and you’ll be more confident in your choices.

You should also have a birth plan because you never know if the team you’ve been seeing during your pregnancy will be the team delivering your baby. Sometimes schedules don’t line up and you may have a different doctor during delivery.

Share the plan

As the one giving birth, the planning is all about you. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t share your plan once it’s made. Let your partner, birth coach, and whoever else will be in the room with you know the birth plan. If you’re in the middle of a contraction, getting a small nap in, or taking a walk to try to get things moving, there will be someone else to answer a question while you’re busy birthing a human.

When to make a birth plan

When to make it is really up to you. Some mothers like to wait until at least the first trimester is over. Others want to wait until a few weeks before they give birth after everything else (like the nursery) is taken care of. There’s no wrong time to make your birth plan.

The birth plan details

A pregnant woman talking to her health care provider.
Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Shutterstock

We can’t list everything that could be on a birth plan, but let’s round out some of the areas to think about. Make your plan as detailed or as minimal as you want. You are the main character here. The idea is to get the basics worked out so there are fewer surprises and questions asked while you are trying to push.

The way you give birth

  • Do you want a home or hospital birth?
  • Do you want a water birth?
  • Will there be anyone other than a doctor or nurse in the room?
  • If a home birth, do you want your other children there?
  • Will you have a vaginal or cesarean birth?

Other related details

  • If there are other kids, who will watch them?
  • If you have pets, who will watch them?
  • Do you want anyone at home with you for the first few days/weeks after you bring home baby?
  • Do you want ready-made meals, frozen meals, or people to bring you food?

Hospital room

  • Do you want music playing or a TV or movie on in the background?
  • Do you want pictures/videos allowed?
  • Do you want to bring anything from home?
  • Do you want birth photographers/additional hospital workers in and out?
  • Would you like lights on/dimmed?
  • Do you want to sleep as much as possible/stay awake?

The birth process

  • Will you want pain medication?
  • The progress — how often do you want cervical checks, vaginal exams, and fetal monitoring?
  • If labor isn’t moving along, how do you want to get things going?
  • Do you want to be able to move around, go for walks, or stay in the bed?
  • Who is allowed in the room?
  • What position do you want to give birth in?
  • Do you want you or your partner to catch the baby?

Immediately after birth

  • Do you want skin-to-skin/for how long?
  • Do you want to delay cutting the umbilical cord?
  • What do you want to do with the placenta?
  • Will you breastfeed or bottle-feed?
  • Do you want to hold baby for as long as possible before they do the checks?
  • Will you allow visitors?
  • Is baby staying in your room or the hospital nursery?

After birth

  • Do you want to get out as soon as possible?
  • Will you accept pain medication as needed?
  • Do you want to sleep except for feedings?

Be flexible with your birth plan

Pregnant woman writing in a notebook.
Getty / Getty Images

It doesn’t matter if you took days to create the perfect plan or if you redid it seven times during your pregnancy. Things may change. Your baby could come early or be late. You could have unknown complications or other variables that throw something off. You may go into labor too far away to get to your hospital.

The most important thing is getting you and your baby safely through the delivery. While it is great to have everything planned out, learning that nothing about being a parent goes as planned is a good lesson. If it might bother you if your birth plan doesn’t go as hoped, create a Plan B or Plan C to take the stress out of possible changes.

Go online and print out birth plan examples, or grab a notebook and create your own, but have a birth plan ready for you and your little one. It’s OK to make it as over the top or as short and sweet as you want. The important thing is you feel relaxed and ready to bring your mini-human into this world.

Editors' Recommendations

Dannielle Beardsley
Dannielle has written for various websites, online magazines, and blogs. She loves everything celebrity and her favorite…
Why you should totally treat yourself to prenatal massages while pregnant
Is a prenatal massage safe?
A lady is laying on a massage table with a pillow

A woman's body goes through quite a bit during a pregnancy. Many women experience backaches, foot pain, and leg cramps. Then there are those uncomfortable stiff necks from awkward sleeping positions, and let's not mention the feet. Those tootsies take a beating, especially if you have a job where you are on your feet for a big chunk of the day.
Pregnancy can be a literal pain in the neck ... and back, and calves, and hips, and basically any part of your body. So, what are pregnant moms to do? How about treat themselves to a prenatal massage? There are prenatal massage benefits moms-to-be should be in on.

Prenatal massage

Read more
Flying while pregnant? This is what you need to know
Know these guidelines about flying while you're with child
A family walking in an airport

Maybe you have to travel for work. Maybe you already had a vacation planned before finding out you were pregnant. However you got here, the reality is you're pregnant, and you have to get on a plane. Can you fly if you are pregnant, or is it on the list of no-no's, like soft cheese and deli meats? Whether you already booked that plane ticket or not, there are a few things about flying while pregnant to know. 
Traveling while pregnant
Let's break it down by trimester, so you know where you'll be when you take your trip.

First trimester travel
The first part of your pregnancy is usually OK to travel during. Most women don't start to show yet, feel pretty normal, and aren't physically restricted by a beach ball blocking everything they do. But there are two things to know if you fly in your first trimester.

Read more
The ultimate nursery checklist of everything you need (and nothing you don’t)
Nursery essentials babies need when they come home from hospital
White nursery

There are so many exciting moments during a pregnancy, but one which many parents-to-be look forward to is planning the nursery. Putting together baby's nursery is such a thrilling time. It's packed with important decisions like the color of the nursery, and of course, the theme. Then, there's the shopping for all the necessities baby will need when your little one comes home from the hospital.

Getting ready for the birth of your child is exhilarating, but it's also overwhelming. Deciding on the nursery essentials can be daunting, especially if this is your first baby. Shopping for baby is expensive as well. Before heading to a baby store or shopping online, it's prudent to have a nursery checklist. Using a checklist to outfit the nursery will ensure you'll have what you need and won't waste money on things you don't. So, let's get shopping because we've got the nursery checklist must-haves along with the items you don't need.
Nursery checklist

Read more