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What to include in your birth plan

Pregnancy - birth plan

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Birth plans are guides that parents-to-be make to help their health care providers best support them during labor and delivery.

Deciding About Your Birth Plan

There are lot of things to consider before you make a birth plan. This is a great time to learn about the various practices, procedures, pain relief methods, and other options that are available during childbirth.

Your birth plan can be very specific or very open. For example, some women know they want to try to have an unmedicated, or "natural," childbirth, and others know they absolutely do not want to have an unmedicated childbirth.

It's important to stay flexible. Keep in mind that some of the things you want may not be possible. So you may want to think about them as your birth preferences, rather than a plan.

Talk to your partner as you make your birth plan. Also talk with your doctor or midwife about your birth plan. Your provider can guide you in medical decisions about the birth. You may be limited in your choices because:

Your doctor or midwife can also talk to you about risks and benefits of some of the options you want for your birth. You may have to fill out forms or releases ahead of time for certain options.

Once you've completed your birth plan, be sure to share it with your doctor or midwife well before your delivery date. Also, leave a copy with the hospital or birthing center where your delivery will occur.

How to Write a Birth Plan

Your doctor, midwife, or the hospital where you will deliver may have a form that you can fill out to create a birth plan.

You can also find sample birth plans and templates in books and websites for pregnant moms.

Even if you use a form or checklist to write your birth plan, you can add other preferences that the form does not address. You can make it as simple or detailed as you like.

Below are many of the things you may want to think about as you create your birth plan.

About the Birthing Room

About Labor and Delivery

Pain Relief During Labor

Right After Your Baby is Delivered

Postpartum Care


Hawkins JL, Bucklin BA. Obstetrical anesthesia. In: Landon MB, Galan HL, Jauniaux ERM, et al, eds. Gabbe's Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 16.

Kilpatrick S, Garrison E, Fairbrother E. Normal labor and delivery. In: Landon MB, Galan HL, Jauniaux ERM, et al, eds. Gabbe's Obstetrics: Normal and Problem Pregnancies. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 11.


Review Date: 4/19/2022  

Reviewed By: John D. Jacobson, MD, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Loma Linda University School of Medicine, Loma Linda, CA. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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