What Is a Birth Plan? (And Why You Should Be Writing One)

by | Feb 5, 2021

There is a TON that can go into planning for a birth! As a new mom researching these things I was overwhelmed at all the different choices that my husband and I were going to have to make. 

That was until I came across a birth plan and a free template I found online….

We liked it so much we created our own version of it that you can download for free!

It was a total game changer! 

Almost instantly I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I didn’t feel as though I was going to have to fumble around in the dark looking for answers. 

By having a birth plan it put me in the driver’s seat for the beautiful journey of preparing for and giving birth. 

Don’t get me wrong, having a birth plan didn’t solve all my problems- but it put my mind at ease.

Knowing that we had a plan for many of the questions and scenarios that could come up during our special day. 

Don’t have a birth plan yet? Don’t wait til your third trimester! Try our Free professionally designed Birth Plan Template! It’ll help you get a jumpstart on your birth plan- I promise! 

What Is a Birth plan?

A birth plan is what it sounds like…

It’s a plan for your birth! 

A physical piece of paper that you and your partner fill out together on what your preferences are during your birth. 

But it’s really more than that.  By creating a birth plan, you’re taking initiative and thinking about these important decisions ahead of time. The last thing you want is to have to make decisions on the fly without knowing the consequences. 

Which brings us to my next point!

Why You Should Have a birth plan

My husband and I feel very strongly about having a birth plan. No matter what kind of birth you’re planning on having. Hospital setting, birthing center or home birth.

Creating a birth plan is something that you should strongly consider doing with your partner 

Here are three reasons why!

1. It forces you to sit down with your partner and talk about your ideal birth.

I get it- you and your partner are really busy right now!

You have so many things to do to prep for your amazing baby that you’ll soon welcome into the world.

My husband and I have been there.

It’s a lot! 

But please hear me out…..

Very few births ever go exactly as planned- and that’s totally normal. In some areas, ours went pretty far off our plan.

Which made it more important that we had taken the time to create and review a birth plan ahead of time.

Taking time out to create a birth plan forces you to think about every action that goes on during a birth. What’s more, you may discover that you and your partner have very different preferences on what your ideal birth should look like. 

And that’s ok! That’s why you should have these conversations up front now- before your special day! 

If there are some disagreements, talk through them and compromise- that’s what reasonable adults do. 

In our case, my husband and I had some disagreement in how we wanted to see the birth of our son play out. 

We talked through it, and ultimately came together and made a birth plan that we were both happy with and proud of.

But my point is-

Unless you stop…

And take the time to actually sit down and write a birth plan with your partner- it’s so much more difficult to get to this point.  

Parenting is a team effort- and creating a birth plan should be no different!

2. It teaches you about the process of birth, and the options that are available to you.

Mother in Labor

This is in my opinion, one of the more important reasons that you should absolutely consider writing a birth plan.

In today’s medical world, there are a lot of options that a mother has when giving birth. Things like:

  • Using pitocin
  • Membrane sweep
  • Wiping the baby off immediately after birth
  • Episiotomy
  • Epidural
  • Vitamin K shot

And the list goes on and on…..

Being first time parents my husband and I didn’t even know what half this stuff was!

Let alone why someone would choose one thing over another….

But by taking the time to write a birth plan TOGETHER- it gave us some direction and we learned what all of these different choices were. 

More importantly, we learned what our preferences are, and why we wanted to do some things, and not others. 

Guys, I’m here to tell you- it doesn’t matter what other people tell you- myself included. Your birth is exactly that. It’s YOUR BIRTH! 

Everyone’s ideal birth and preferences surrounding that are different- and that’s good! It would be boring if we all wanted the exact same thing….

Even though this is a blog more designed around being “Natural”- I want you to know that whatever you choose- choose it because you wanted it. 

Be educated about your choice and why you chose it. And most importantly- be proud of yourself and your birth plan that you and your partner created together! 

This entire process is learning about birth, and how you and your partner want it to go.

You will learn so much about yourself throughout this process- it may surprise you! 

If you don’t have a partner, then find a family member or close friend. Don’t go through this process alone if you don’t have to.

3. Informs medical professionals of your birth preferences

Besides getting you and your partner on the same page…

And educating you on the process and procedures…..

A birth plan is also super useful for the medical professionals who will be helping you during your birth. Like I mentioned in a previous post Surviving The First Trimester- 7 Tips Every New Mama Should Know about setting up your support team!

Regardless of where you plan on giving birth. Be it a hospital, natural birthing center or at home- the professionals who you’ll be working with will generally be glad to read through your birth plan.

I say generally because not everyone you come across will read it. Some may think of you as “high maintenance” or “getting in the way of doing their job”. These instances are not common, but they do happen. 

Just remember- you’re hiring these people. They work for you! 

However, with that in mind- you want to ensure you create a birth plan that medical professionals, midwives, and doulas can easily glance at and get an understanding of what your preferences are! 

We recommend giving them a physical and/or emailed copy of your birth plan as your due date approaches so they can glance at it ahead of time. Giving you time to discuss with them if needed, It’s important everyone understands your birth plan BEFORE your special day.

Crazy things can happen on your birthing day…

We almost delivered our baby in the car and left our birth plan behind as we ran into the hospital… 

But it didn’t matter because our team knew what was in it, and we understood what we wanted because we did all the work up front and knew it inside and out.

Creating Your Birth Plan

If you’re creating your own birth plan, it’s important to keep a couple things in mind.

  • Keep it to 1 page
  • Make it clear and concise
  • Make it easy to read
  • Use bright colors so it stands out

Remember- you want to create this plan so your team of professionals can read it quickly and understand it while also including everything you want on the plan.  OR You can download our FREE birth plan template! We’ve done the heavy lifting for you and designed this template with all of the above points in mind. 

How to use our free template

Our free template was designed to cover most of the items that you would want on your birth plan. (It is designed for a vaginal birth… it doesn’t include preferences for a cesarean birth. We recommend you create a second birth plan for a cesarean birth) Check each box for the items that you would like to have included as part of your plan. To get started simply download, print and start using the template!

What each item means 

Labor and Delivery



    • Labor in position of choice
      • There are SO many positions you can labor in that may feel more comfortable to you than laying down in a bed with your legs propped up in stirrups. (Other positions include; squatting, side-lying, kneeling, and standing) 
      • Laboring in the position of your choice is especially helpful if you are trying to have an unmedicated birth. When you are in the traditional birthing position- on your back and in stirrups, you are constricting your body and it makes it harder to breathe the baby down (as opposed to pushing).
      • If you are planning to have an epidural (see definition below) you may be limited or not have the option to labor in another position as you may not have movement from the waist down.
    • Limited Vaginal exams
      • A vaginal exam or cervical check is when your medical professional inserts their fingers into your vagina and checks how many centimeters your cervix is dilated and the effacement (shortening/thinning) of the cervix. 
      • Vaginal exams can be beneficial to know how close you are to either pushing or breathing the baby out. Some moms like to know the numbers on how things are progressing and want as many updates as they can. The medical professional can also tell what position the baby is in if they are low enough in the pelvis to be felt. With that information they can decide if the baby needs to be rotated.
      • During the cervical check, there is a risk of an infection. Bacteria can come into the uterus from outside the body and create issues. If your water has broken this can have a higher risk.  
    • Minimal/ intermittent fetal monitoring
      • Fetal monitoring is a way to monitor the baby’s heart rate during labor.
      • Having continuous fetal monitoring helps your medical professional detect if the baby’s stats drop at any time and can take action if needed immediately. (Most hospitals will default to this unless otherwise stated)
      • A benefit to having minimal fetal monitoring is the freedom of mobility. This is especially important if you choose to use other birthing positions. Instead of having a band and small monitor strapped to your belly your medical professional will most likely use a doppler intermittently through your labor.     
    • Music During Labor
      • Do you want a quiet space during labor or does music soothe you? If so, I recommend making a playlist. You could include fun up beat music or more relaxing music. A combination might be best!
    • Lights dimmed during labor 
      • Another personal preference. Some mama’s are bothered by the bright fluorescent lights while others don’t mind it. Especially during a natural birth, mama needs to feel calm and relaxed for the process to go more smoothly. 
    • No forceps
      • Forceps are a tool your medical professional uses to get the baby out. One reason they would be used is if labor has stalled. Also, if the baby or mother is in distress, forceps can assist your medical professional to get the baby out quicker. They aren’t used as often as they once were.
      • Some risks to using forceps is that the baby’s head can experience bruising or swelling and the mother could experience tears to the vagina/perineum or pain in the perineum.
    • No vacuum
      • A vacuum is another way to get the baby out when labor has stalled. The vacuum assists your medical professional to get the baby’s head out and then you would push the rest of the baby out (the head crowns in and out slightly in between contractions until the head is fully out).
      • This can be helpful if the mother or baby is in distress and needs assistance
      • Some risks to using the vacuum is that the baby’s head can experience swelling or jaundice and the mother could experience tears to the vagina/perineum or pain in the perineum.
    • Episiotomy
      • This is when your medical professional makes a surgical incision on your perineum (area between your vagina and anus) to prevent tearing and make more space for your baby to come out.
      • A benefit for this is a quicker way to get your baby out if they are in fetal distress.
      •  There is increased risk of infection and damage to muscle tissue
    • Prefer a natural tear over episiotomy
      • A natural tear is less painful and takes less time to recover from when compared to an episiotomy. However, there are times when an episiotomy may be medically necessary. Having an episiotomy may lead to complications later on- such as decreased sexual satisfaction.
    • I.V. 
      • General hospital procedure is to administer an I.V. This helps with hydration and makes it easier to administer pitocin.
      • Having an I.V. does make it more difficult to move around, so if you would like to try different birthing positions consider not using an I.V. 


    • Artificial rupture of membranes/ membrane sweep
      • Membrane sweeps can be painful, and can actually lead to more medical interventions during labor! 
    • Medicated induction (Pitocin)
      • Pitocin is used to start or speed up contractions. However once used, the chances of needing further medical intervention increase pretty significantly. However, there is a time and place for using Pitocin.
    • None- unmedicated birth
      • Just how it sounds; a birth with no medication for pain during the labor and delivery process! A birth how mother nature intended it!
    • Epidural anesthesia 
      • A medication that’s administered in the spine to temporarily paralyze your body from the waist down. This means you’ll be birthing in a bed, on your back in stirrups. 

Group B Strep

    • I am GBS Negative
      • Are you GBS negative? If so, check this box. This means that you will not need to be given antibiotics 
    • I am GBS Positive
      • Are your GBS positive and would like antibiotics? If so, check this box. Antibiotics are given to you to lower the chances of passing it on to baby. This has become a standard practice in hospitals. However, giving antibiotics to you (which goes into baby as well) will harm the good gut bacteria that baby has. This will weaken their immune system and digestion.
    • I am GBS Positive (Declining antibiotics)
      • If you’re GBS positive but would like to decline antibiotics- check this box. There will be a higher chance that baby could contract GBS. But the chances are still very low. A 1 in 200 chance, or .5%. 

Pain Relief

    • Jacuzzi/tub/shower
      • Labor can be a long drawn out process, using a jacuzzi, tub or shower can help calm you down. These can also make labor a little easier. Giving birth in a tub is more common at a natural birth center or at home. 
    • Message/gentle touch
      • This is a common hypnobirthing technique. It’s important to be calm and comfortable during birth. This helps allow the birth canal to open up which makes delivery easier. Massage and gentle touch can help with this process. 
    • Breathing & visualization
      • This is another common hypnobirthing technique. Focused breathing and visualization helps to bring attention on other positive things during contractions. If practiced beforehand, can be very effective in removing oneself from the pain associated with contractions during labor 
    • Birth ball
      • A birth ball is great for getting baby into the correct position to move down the birth canal. By sitting on the ball it brings extra back support. This also helps to open up the pelvis as well. 
    • Rebozo technique
      • The rebozo technique involves wrapping your belly which helps to take the weight off your back. This can be very helpful for squatting and conserving energy while in labor. 
    • Medication
      • If you would like to take medication to help alleviate some pain- that’s ok! Do what you need to do to birth your baby. 


    • Breath baby down (not pushing)
      • Believe it or not, you do not have to “push” to birth your baby. Your body can do it all on it’s own! There have been plenty of instances where unconscious mothers and animals have given birth without them pushing. Focus breathing, and breathing down and out will help move the baby along the birth canal. This is another hypnobirthing technique you should look into!
    • Coached pushing (breath holding)
      • This is the traditional “pushing” method that we see in movies all the time. The professionals in the room will count or que when you should be “pushing” to get baby to move down the birth canal. 
    • Use of mirror to see birth
      • Would you like to use a mirror while laboring? I used one during my labor and it was a huge motivator when I saw our baby’s head start to crown! 

After Birth

Immediately After Birth

    • Quiet room if possible
      • A quiet room is desirable by many especially for the “golden hour” right after birth. 
    • Place baby on mothers chest/skin
      • Skin to skin is very beneficial for bonding between mother and baby- especially during that “golden hour”
    • Don’t wipe baby down
      • The vernix caseosa is the “white stuff” that covers baby when they are first born. Vernix caseosa is beneficial for several reasons. Helps regulate baby’s body temperature. Has antimicrobial properties and acts as a moisturizer for your baby’s skin.
    • Delay non-urgent routines until after the golden hour
      • The golden hour is when baby and mom should be bonding, trying to latch and settling down after birth. 

Umbilical Cord

    • Delayed cord clamping
      • ⅓ of baby’s blood is in the umbilical cord. By delaying cord clamping and allowing it to turn white and stop pulsating- that blood is able to return to the baby which is beneficial for baby’s health.
    • ___________ to cut the cord
      • Who would you like to cut the cord? The father? Your birth partner? Family member? 
    • Preserve cord blood for banking
      • This is gaining popularity as a way for parents to store baby’s stem cells found in the umbilical cord for later medical use if needed. 


    • Allow spontaneous delivery of placenta
      • The placenta typically detaches from the uterus after 30 minutes. Breastfeeding will help encourage detachment. If pulled out, chances increase that it can tear and pieces can be left inside of mama. 
    • Defer Pitocin
      • Pitocin causes contractions in the uterus even after birth. These contractions help to push out any remaining placenta that may still be inside the uterus. This also helps to stop any bleeding. However there are risks to using pitocin such as hemorrhaging.
    • I plan to encapsulate my placenta
      • Some mama’s encapsulate their placenta so they can eat it

Baby Care

Newborn Routines

    • Defer Hep B vaccine
      • A common vaccine given to newborns. However it’s very rare for an infection to occur- unless mama has the infection.
    • Defer Vitamin K shot
      • The vitamin K shot is given to prevent internal bleeding – though very rare. Some parents refuse the shot because it contains a very high dose that is unnatural for a newborn to have.
    • Defer erythromycin eye ointment
      • Erythromycin is an antibiotic given to infants to try and prevent blindness which can be caused from gonorrhea or chlamydia. The mother would have to have these infections in order to pass them on to baby. This has become a standard practice even if the mother doesn’t test positive for either of these diseases.
      • Antibiotics are not good for the baby’s gut health, which can lead to health problems later on down the road. 
    • No pacifier 
      • For breastfed babies introducing a pacifier can cause nipple confusion. Especially during those first few precious hours at the hospital.
    • Defer circumcision (if applicable)
    • Do not separate baby from mother/birth partner
      • Those first few hours, and even days after birth and very important for bonding. My husband and I didn’t want our child leaving our sight- especially in the hospital! 
    • Defer newborn bath
      • Newborns are covered in vernix which is a great antimicrobial and skin moisturizer. From a natural birth perspective, there’s little reason to give a bath while at the hospital.  


    • Allow baby to breastfeed as soon as possible
      • Trying to get a successful latch in that first “golden hour” is important for both mom and baby. 
    • Bottle feeding (formula)
      • For the first 24 hours the baby will be living mostly off the nutrients that are already inside them coming from the womb. Then they will rely more heavily on breastfeeding or bottle feeding from there. Remember, breast milk is a better option and you should try that first if you’re able to.
    • Combination feed (breast milk & formula)
      • For the first several days, mama’s body will be producing colostrum. This is all your baby needs as it’s packed with important nutrients. However if you’re unable to produce you may need to introduce formula. 
    • If possible, meet with a lactation specialist
      • Lactation specialists can be great to help you improve your breastfeeding technique, especially in those first few hours in the hospital. 

Check with your hospital/birthing center to see if these options are available and allowed… some medical professionals may have specific policies in place or some of the options may not be available.

If you ever have any questions on your birth plan- be sure to let us know! We’ll be happy to help. 

Hi there! We're Kelly and Greg!

Hi there! We’re new parents- who are learning as we go! Realizing what it takes to raise kids in today’s crazy world, we strive to live healthier lives while finding natural alternatives to solve everyday problems. The world is complicated! Raising Them Naturally doesn’t have to be.
About Greg & Kelly Quante

About Greg & Kelly Quante

Kelly & Greg Quante are new parents and the creaters of Raising Them Naturally– a blog about preparing for and raising kids naturally! They share their challenges of parenting- and the things they’ve done to overcome them. They created this blog as a way for them to help others along the way.