4 Easy Steps to Writing a Birth Plan

Birth plans can be a fun or overwhelming part of preparing to meet your little one. Breathe a sigh of relief, because if this is something you are not looking forward to, your doula team will help you every step of the way. Birth plans are to inform the staff and your support team of your special requests for your labor and birth. Always remember that even if your birth changes in a way that you did not plan on, your doula will be there to help you adjust to the changes.

Step 1: Your vision 

Take some time to think, research and envision what your wishes are for your birth. Think about what you want the day you finally meet your baby to look like. This is a special day, you have long awaited the arrival of this baby and you want it to be just perfect. Do you want to labor at home or go right to your birthing location? Do you want to labor in the tub/shower? When will you call your doula? Are you planning an epidural at a certain point? Are you planning an unmedicated birth? Are you planning to wait and see about pain medication? Do you want a certain playlist going? Do you want family waiting or giving you your space? Do you want to move or stay in bed? Do you want to break your water, or not, at a certain point? Do you want to feel your baby's head as you push? Do you want a mirror? Do you want to push in a certain position? Do you want coached pushing or quiet? Do you want to cut the cord? Do you want your partner to cut the cord? Do you want delayed cord clamping? These are your wishes, discover what you want for your birth, what is really important to you, what you don't mind changing and any specific preferences.

Step 2: What will help you with your birth wishes

Finding the perfect provider for the birth you want is important, this is part of your planning. What else is in your birth vision that would help you achieve the birth you want? Here are some tips for finalizing everything.

  • What are the birth location protocols
  • Does your provider support your birth wishes
  • Ask your doula for additional resources for any specific preferences you have
  • Do the research on specific requests you have

What will help you achieve the birth that you want? A Doula, a rebozo, a specific playlist, or massage oil- all or none of these things? What tools do you want to bring with you to your birth? The knowledge you have about your birth wishes will help you make decisions with your provider about your care. Find a supportive community to cheer you on as you prepare to birth. Join our pregnancy groups based on your location in Virginia - "Pregnant in Northern Virginia" or "Pregnant in the Shenandoah Valley". These groups are designed to support and bring mothers together as they go through this exciting time.

Step 3: Write your plan

Once you know what you want for your birth, what your provider and birthing location support, write out your wishes. Keep it simple. The nurses and your provider have a lot to read, so the advice given to our previous clients has been to keep it as short as possible and only include special wishes that are not already standard for your birthing location. For example if you want skin-to-skin and this is already standard at your birthing location, you can exclude that from your plan. If you do not want immediate skin-to-skin and skin-to-skin is standard at your birthing location, specify that you do not want skin-to-skin until baby is cleaned and you are settled.

Step 4: Share with your team

You have the best team you could have asked for, they are hired by you to support you, so they want to know what wishes you have for your birth. Bring a copy for your provider to stick in your chart, send one to your doula team and keep one in your birth bag. It is a good idea to talk with your provider about specific wishes that you have that might not be standard.

And that's it!

Enjoy the sample outline below, the preferences listed are just examples of things you might want, fill in what you want for your birth.

My NAME birth plan Support team: EDD:

Laboring

  • I would like intermittent monitoring
  • I would like to labor in the shower for most of my labor
  • I would/would not like to have IV fluids during labor
  • I would/would not like to labor at home
  • I would/would not like an epidural
  • I would like an epidural at 7cm
  • Please do not ask about an epidural

Pushing

  • I would like to push with the squatting bar/ birth stool
  • I would/would not like coached pushing
  • Please do not ask to show me the mirror
  • Please offer for me to touch my baby's head
  • I would like to wait to push till I have the urge
  • I would like to begin pushing as soon as possible

Immediately postpartum

  • I would like immediate skin-to-skin
  • I am planning to bottle/breastfeed
  • I am/am not keeping my placenta for Placenta Encapsulation
  • I would like my partner to cut the cord
  • My partner would like to do skin-to-skin while I get settled
  • Please do not give the Hep B shot
  • Please give the Vitamin K shot

Unplanned cesarean birth

  • I would like to stay awake if it is a non-emergent cesarean
  • I would like my partner and Doula in the OR with me
  • Double suturing and low incision
  • Delayed cord clamping if possible
  • Baby to mom/dad immediately
  • I would like to recover with my baby
  • Please do/do not announce baby’s gender

You can write your birth plan for a vaginal birth, cesarean birth, induction birth or one for each if that would make you feel more prepared for your upcoming birth. The idea of this birth plan is to help everyone around you know what you want so that you can focus on birthing your baby.

Virginia is for Doulas is excited to offer Birth Prep classes to couples seeking to learn coping techniques for labor and have one-on-one support for writing their birth plan.

We wish you the best for your upcoming birth!