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A Realistic Guide To Birth Plans {with a FREE printable birth plan template!}

A Realistic Guide To Birth Plans {with a FREE printable birth plan template!}

What Is A Birth Plan And How Do I Make One?

A birth plan is an outline of what you’d like to see happen during labor and delivery. Although you might be tempted to make it extremely detailed- don’t. This won’t help you or your healthcare professionals. Keep it short, concise and easy to understand.

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Something important to remember when creating a birthing plan- every woman and childbirth is different. There will be surprises. A birth plan may not stop certain things from happening but you will be informed and have some sort of answer written down for your doctor.

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Most women include things under 4 main categories:

  • Requests before birth
  • Requests during labor and birth
  • Vaginal vs. C-section preferences
  • Requests postpartum

A birth plan is nice to have because conveying what you want in between contractions can be be impossible!

I didn’t have a birth plan with my first baby and in all honesty? I really wish I had. I didn’t do enough research, didn’t really know what it was that I wanted/needed during my labor and delivery.

Find a really good prenatal class to make sure you are informed about what is to come. This FREE online prenatal class was made by a woman who’s been an OB nurse since 2001 and it is invaluable to new moms. Grab your free online prenatal class here.

Then write a birth plan of what you’d really like to see happen during your labor and delivery!

Keep in mind that you may not get everything you want but at least you have it written down and it can speak for you when you can’t.

If you’re wondering what to pack in your hospital bag, click here for a realistic hospital bag checklist.

RELATED: The Only 3rd Trimester Checklist You Need

What Should I Include In My Birth Plan?

There are 4 main areas to include in your birth plan:

  • Before birth
  • Requests during labor and birth
  • Vaginal vs. C-section preferences
  • Requests postpartum

Before Birth

This section includes things like:

Who would you like in the delivery room?

  • Your partner/spouse
  • Doula
  • Labor Coach
  • Other friends/family

Your name and your partners name

Due date

First pregnancy?

RELATED: No BS Breastfeeding Essentials

Requests During Labor & Delivery

Which Birthing Positions Or Apparatuses Would You Like To Try?

  • Birthing Ball– You can sit on a birthing ball and rocking side to side during labor or lean on it while on your knees.
  • Squatting– You’re on your feet holding onto your partner, the bed or something called a birthing bar.
  • Birthing Stool– A birthing stool is round with a hole in the middle. Sound familiar? It’s a position many are comfortable with because you’ve practiced it a lot in the bathroom 😉
  • Birthing Bed– These are beds the hospital has that are made for both labor and delivery with options to raise and lower certain parts of the bed to accommodate different positions.
  • Side Lying– This is a good position if you’re getting too tired to squat. It also helps from compressing major veins.
  • Birthing Tub– Some women like to labor in a warm birthing tub and get out for delivery but you are also welcome to have a water birth. Please make sure you are able to have one and the place you are having your baby offers birthing tubs.
  • Kneeling– This can be upright on one knee or on your knees while leaning against something.


  • lights dimmed
  • few interruptions
  • as few vaginal exams as possible
  • room quiet
  • etc.

Pain management

  • Epidural, nothing, whatever I request at the time.

Medical students or student midwives present

  • prefer not, don’t mind.

RELATED: Realistic Natural Birth Tips

Vaginal Delivery vs C-Section

  • C-Section preferences– have all other options been exhausted, I’d like to remain conscious, screen lowered, surgery explained, I would like to breastfeed in the recovery room, etc.
  • Vaginal delivery preferences– avoid forceps or vacuum extraction, push as directed, push spontaneously, use a mirror to see baby crown, etc.

Postpartum Requests

  • Umbilical cord– delayed cord cutting/clamping, partner to cut the umbilical cord, etc.
  • Baby cleaned– only after skin to skin, right away,
  • Feeding baby– breastfeed immediately, only after baby cleaned, not planning to breastfeed.

Additional Notes:

  • Allergies
  • Health conditions

RELATED: Signs Labor Is 24-48 Hours Away

RELATED: C-Section Hospital Bag Checklist (free printable!)

Is A Birth Plan Necessary?

In short?


It’s not necessary at all. However, it may give you peace of mind to have certain things written down during active labor when ahem sh*t hits the fan.

The reason I recommend a birth plan is because in order to write one, you have to research your options. And that is what is MOST important when having a baby- KNOWLEDGE! Be informed. Know WHY you chose a certain aspect in your birth plan.

RELATED: No BS Newborn Essentials (you don’t need much)

Things To Keep In Mind

There are sides to everything. Nothing is black and white. Not all nurses are all good or all bad. Not all pregnant ladies are respectful or willing to work with healthcare professionals.

The only time I wish I would have had a birth plan was for my first baby. I did NOT do enough research or know what I wanted. I allowed a student doctor to be a part of my labor and in hindsight I really wish I hadn’t. No offense to him, he was learning, but for a woman in labor with her first baby- it was just awful. Had I known I could even say no to that- I would have.

Please- grab this online prenatal class. And research on your own too! Find out WHY you want to refuse an epidural. Be able to tell your nurse confidently WHY you think that delayed cord clamping is important or that you’d like skin to skin immediately.

It’s SO important to advocate for yourself and it is equally important to trust in the people who are helping you have your baby.

So, with that being said-

Don’t go in with a 4 page birth plan detailing the music you’re going to have on your playlist or the essential oils you’re going to use. Choose the things that are the MOST important to you and put them in your birth plan.

Free Printable One Page Birth Template- sign up below to get your copy sent to you!

The nurses are there to do their job and help you. You are there to have a baby safely and whether that means you need to do some self advocating or take some advice from the nurses- that’s what you’re going to do 🤍

RELATED: Hospital Bag Checklist For Dad/Birth Partner

More helpful tips for labor and delivery:


printable birth plan

Jewel smith

Wednesday 30th of June 2021

Hi! I’d like your birth plan template!


Tuesday 10th of November 2020

Please send template

Jenni Madsen

Friday 20th of November 2020

Hi Lauren!

Thanks so much for your interest :)

There is a form to sign up and have the template sent to you within the post.

Good luck with your birth! <3


Tuesday 15th of September 2020

Imlooking for a Birthing plan


Tuesday 15th of September 2020

Hey Valerie! There should be a form when you can sign up for the free birth plan- then it will be sent to your email for you to download. Thanks!