This post may contain affiliate links that I may receive a commission from if you click & buy. In addition, the information on this site is NOT intended to be medical advice. See my full policy for more information.
Writing a birth plan is as essential as packing your hospital bag when it comes to preparing for the birth of your baby. However, many moms-to-be just don’t know where to start.
If you’re planning to have a natural, drug-free vaginal birth, then you may find that the standard birth plan templates you can find online aren’t a good match for what you need.
Read for some useful suggestions on how to write a relevant, personalized birth plan for a natural birth.
What is a birth plan?
A birth plan is a document that outlines your personal preferences for labor and delivery. It may include things like pain management, who you want present at the birth, and how you want your newborn to be cared for immediately after the birth.
You’ll hand your birth plan to your midwife or doula, who will encourage your healthcare team to follow it where possible.
Why is it important to have a birth plan for a natural birth?
Writing a birth plan encourages you to consider all your options and communicate them to your healthcare team. During labor, you may be unable to make decisions properly or struggle to communicate your preferences.
Having everything planned out in advance enables you to keep more control over how the birth progresses.
Some medical interventions such as the insertion of IV lines and electronic fetal monitoring may be performed routinely. If these don’t align with your idea of a natural birth, you should state this on your birth plan.
If you’re feeling stuck about where to start with making your birth plan, make sure you sign up for my FREE Birth Plan Worksheet to make the entire process easier!
Remember – a birth plan is only a plan
Of course, there are times when it’s not possible to stick to a natural birth plan and doctors may need to make changes to the plan once labor begins.
Whilst caregivers will aim to follow your plan as you wish, if you arrive at the hospital in urgent need of an emergency C-section, then much of your natural birth plan will go out the window. For that reason, it’s a good idea to also include some details on a plan B.
What to include in a birth plan for a natural birth
A simple birth plan should include as a minimum:
- Your full name and preferred name
- Your baby’s name (if you know it)
- Names and contact details of your medical team and birth companion(s)
- Your estimated due date
- Details of any medical conditions
- Where you would like to give birth
- Who you would like present at the birth
- Whether you would like to be offered pain relief, what type and when
- What you want to happen after delivery
If you have other preferences, such as wanting to be in a particular position for the birth, wanting low lighting and calming music or not wanting medical students to be present, then you should also include this in your birth plan.
How to make a birth plan for a natural birth
There’s no right or wrong way to make a birth plan.
Just as every woman is different, so is every birth plan. Some are just a short list of bullet points, others are extremely detailed. The best birth plans are highly personalized.
Some ideas for how to create a birth plan include:
1. Download a birth plan checklist
A printable birth plan worksheet with tick boxes is by far the easiest method when it comes to creating a birth plan.
You just fill in the blanks and tick your preferences. If you want to make a birth plan in under five minutes, this is the way to do it.
If you want a more detailed, personalized birth plan, you can use the birth plan template as basis to create your own.
2. Look at sample birth plans
You’ll find lots of birth plan examples online. These can be useful in demonstrating both how you could set out your birth plan and what to include on it.
There can be a lot of medical terms and jargon around having a baby, even with a natural birth.
Reading other people’s birth plans is a great way to educate yourself about options that you didn’t know existed.
3. Use a birth plan generator tool
A birth plan generator tool is a bit like an online quiz, where you select your preferences around what you would like for your birth. Then you click the ‘generate’ button and a computer program uses this information to build a personalized birth plan for you.
Even if you don’t use the birth plan pdf that it generates, it can be handy to give you some ideas.
4. Present your birth plan nicely
If you present your midwife with a birth plan that’s scrawled in spidery handwriting or printed in a small font with no paragraph breaks, then there’s a very good chance that she won’t read the whole thing.
Birth plans should be easy to skim read to ensure that everything is communicated as well as it can be.
Visual birth plans which include color-coded icons or pictures do a great job of communicating birth preferences at a glance.
It’s also a good idea to arrange your birth plan into sections, with headings such as:
- Before birth
- During labor
- During delivery
- After delivery
When to write a birth plan
You should start to think about what a natural birth means to you and what your preferences are at some point in your second trimester.
You don’t need to have it down on paper until your 32nd to 36th week of pregnancy. Starting early will give you enough time to bring up any questions with your midwife so that you can make the right decisions for you.
Writing a birth plan is an important step in preparing for the birth of your child. You could use a quick and easy birth plan generator or template to create your birth plan document in minutes. Or, you could use one of these as a basis to build your own custom birth plan that you can then print at home and bring along to the birth.
And don’t forget, after birth comes postpartum! If you haven’t yet begun looking into how you can prepare for your postpartum experience, the postpartum recovery journal can help!
Other Natural Birth posts you’ll love: