10 Birth Plan Template Samples
Getting ready for the birth of your baby is an important task as a new parent. Births are powerful and have the opportunity to affect new parents and their babies for years to come. It is essential to remember that you are in charge of your birth and that every procedure or treatment must receive your consent. Depending on where you plan to birth, or to what extent your midwife or doctor practices informed choice and decision making in childbirth, this may influence whether you need a written birth plan template.
Many parents want to discuss their labor, birth, postpartum, and newborn wishes with their midwife or doctor before birth as a way of ensuring their wishes will be respected. This discussion can shed light on how your care provider reacts to your requests and whether you are able to get all of your questions answered in a full and non-biased way. A written birth plan is one way to guide that conversation, and a birth plan template can help. Birth plan templates can support you in organizing your thoughts, inform you about the possible interventions in birth, and use mutual language.
What Should Be Included in a Birth Plan?
Birth plans are a good tool for helping parents to imagine their ideal birth, and it is helpful to emotionally and intellectually prepare for birth. When writing your birth plan, consider what you have heard, read, and seen about others’ birthing experiences. What feels good to you? What do you want to avoid? After you have pictured your ideal birth, birth plan templates can help you consider all of the coping mechanisms, procedures, and treatments you may not have considered.
Birth plans will vary considerably depending on your wishes as parents and on how familiar your care providers are with your specific situation. If you are birthing at home with a midwife or in a small free-standing birth center, it is likely that your birth wishes are being noted by the midwives as you progress through pregnancy. You may still wish to write a formal birth plan, or birth planning may be a normal part of their charting system. Ask them if they routinely record your birth plans and how they will ensure they remember them when the time comes.
If you are birthing in a large birthing center, a birthing center attached to a hospital, or in the hospital itself a birth plan becomes much more important. Midwives and doctors working in these settings typically have much higher volumes of pregnant clients and may not remember you well enough to remember your birth plans. Also, your care providers may include nursing staff you have not yet met, or unfamiliar midwives or doctors who shift out as you labor, birth, and recover. Hospitals will also default to their routine policies unless you specify otherwise.
In general, birth plans should be kept to what is important to you and include some basic information. Unfortunately, if birthing in a high volume center, staff are unlikely to read a birth plan that is longer than one to two pages, so try to keep it short or include the most important items at the front. A good way to ensure that all of your wishes are followed is to insist right off in your birth plan that you require full information on the risks, benefits, and alternatives of every recommendation before any treatments or procedures are done.
Some of the Most Essential Items to Include on Birth Plans Are:
- Your name and your partner’s name (if applicable)
- Your gender and preferred pronouns
- Names of support people you want present for the birth
- Your midwife or doctor’s name
- Your baby’s name and estimated due date
- An acronym for decision making, such as BRAIN (benefits, risks, alternatives, intuition, nothing)
- The requirement for informed choice and decision making
- Comfort measures you wish to use during labor
- Birth positions, techniques, who will catch the baby
- Interventions you wish to avoid
If You Need More Detail About What Things to Think About, Consider:
- Desired medical procedures, what you want and what you don’t
- Environment requirements such as lighting, noise, people, privacy
- Personal self-care items such as clothing, food, liquids, comfort items
- Pain coping techniques such as movement, rest, hydrotherapy, massage, acupuncture, medications
- Intermittent versus continuous fetal monitoring
- Birthing positions and locations
- Methods of birthing, vaginal or cesarean, and desires for each
- Newborn feeding, clothing, and bathing desires
- Newborn routine care including vitamin k, vaccinations, eye ointment, routine testing
Is There a Need for Birth Plan Templates?
You can certainly elect to write a birth plan without using a birth plan template, especially if you are confident in your care provider’s abilities to practice informed choice and decision making during the birthing process and for your newborn. If this is not your first baby and you have previous experience with the birth care team you have hired, you may spend far less time on a birth plan template. However, we live in a culture that does not openly discuss the details of childbirth, and there are many experiences of birth that are new to parents, especially when birthing for the first time.
Combine that with the fact that many midwives and doctors practice within a birthing center or hospital’s routines and protocols and it becomes more necessary to be fully informed about the possibilities and communicate wishes to birth care teams. Birth plan templates are a valuable tool in the process of planning for an informed birth. Many birth plan templates are designed for a planned hospital birth, but they can be used by anyone regardless of planned birth location.
How to Choose the Best Birth Plan Template
The best birth plan templates will help simplify the birth planning process. Birth plan templates should help inform you about possibilities, organize your thoughts and wishes, and effectively communicate them to your birth care providers. Some are available to fill in online and print or email, some are fillable forms, and others have the option to print out on paper and fill in by hand.
It is important to look at many different birth plan templates. Some templates have a clear motive; for example, we found a birth plan template supplied by an unnamed hospital that worked hard to steer parents into the hospital’s preferred birth plan. Every time we answered their questions, no matter how different the answer, we got the same end result! If you are taking a childbirth education course, ask your instructor for their birth plan recommendations.
Consider your place of birth and your care provider when choosing which birth plan templates to use. After you have explored many birth plan templates, choose which works best for you. Here are some of our favorites. Unfortunately, we were unable to find birth plan templates for our birthing fathers out there. Dads birth too! Apologies and warning for all the very gendered language.
- Earth Mama offers an online birth plan that guides you through a planned hospital birth, but also provides for all the more natural options
- Mama Natural has a natural visual birth plan that is customizable — what is really great about this birth plan is that it is in pictures to quickly communicate your plans with hospital staff
- BubHub has a simple, printable checkbox style birth plan that is only one page long
- Kindred BRavely has a great birth plan template for parents planning for a cesarean birth
- The Bump has basic birth plan templates that cover a lot of things you may come across in a hospital birth
Most comprehensive childbirth education classes will cover writing birth plans as part of their curriculum. Think about enrolling in a community class outside of the hospital. Classes may be centered around a specific coping technique or more general skills. Lastly, there are books available to help guide you through the process of writing a birth plan. Consider buying one or two books that are specific to birth planning to round out your education.
Planning for your baby’s birth is a powerful and important act. To envision the possibilities within an event that is impossible to plan requires some careful thinking. Using a good birth plan template will assist you in sifting through all of the choices to be made in childbirth and as a new parent. Birth plan templates can guide you through in advance what you may decide at the time of your labor and birth.
Birth plan templates are usually used as working documents that you will revisit many times before the birth of your baby. Use them to guide conversations with your support people and care providers and to plan. Once you have familiarized yourself with all the possibilities presented on birth plan templates, most health care providers recommend writing your own simple birth plan tailored to your wants and needs. Birth requires flexibility, but being informed and educated about options and holding a vision of what you want birth to look like will ensure you are the one making choices about your and your baby’s care.