It’s easy to develop a birth plan that works for you—whether you’re delivering vaginally, having a C-Section or VBAC, or a homebirth.
If you need inspiration, or don’t want to start from scratch, there are tips and FAQs on websites like the American Pregnancy Association, and templates of checklist-style birth plans available to download on websites like Earth Mama Angel Baby and United Healthcare. The books Birth Plans for Dummies and The Birth Partner, include tips and checklists on planning your birthing experience. The Children’s Hospital of St. Louis’ Mom Docs has a great list of ten tips for writing a birth plan, including the suggestion to use a preprinted checklist more as a guide, rather than a form to simply fill out and hand to the doctor.
A birth plan can be as simple as writing down a list of things you’d like to avoid if possible, and what you do want during your birth—i.e., walking around, use of a birthing ball, preferences for pain management, immediate skin-to-skin contact with the newborn, uninterrupted breastfeeding, and cord clamping or placenta instructions. Shapiro suggests framing the birth plan in positive language. Terms like: “I prefer to” or “If possible, I would like,” instead of: “Don’t do” or “I don’t want” foster a more positive and cooperative feeling. She also suggests structuring the birth plan according to the stages of labor, to give you an easy outline. Try to review the plan with your provider before the birth so your wishes are known ahead of time, and any concerns can be discussed.
To hear from local experts on developing a birth plan, check out our story here.