5 Tips for Creating Your Birth Plan


mom and baby in hospital

Every doula knows that you can’t actually plan your birth because birth, by nature, is mysterious and spontaneous. It follows its own path, and no matter how hard we may want to control it, we can’t.  In fact, the best outcomes overall occur in those births that are allowed to unfold naturally, without intervention when possible.  However, as a doula, I also don’t recommend that you go into birth uninformed or unprepared.  Learning about your options, examining the evidence around each choice, and finally thinking about what options you might want available to you will help you have a better and healthier experience.  This is where creating a birth plan comes into play.

5 Tips for Creating Your Birth Plan

1. Think of it as “birth preferences” as opposed to a “birth plan.” Expectations matter and they can really frame how we feel about our experiences. Furthermore, if you’re writing a “birth plan,” chances are you might be expecting your birth to unfold in a certain way. However, if you’re writing “birth preferences,” you’ll be more open to your birth unfolding differently if it needs to.

2. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your birth plan is a silver bullet. You’ll want to stay open to a change in plans and you’ll also want to continue to voice your wishes to your care provider. Instead, think of the process of creating your birth preferences as a great way to become informed, discuss your options with your partner and birth team, and solidify your preferences. It can be a great tool for learning and reflecting.

3. Share your plan with your provider ahead of time. You’ll likely be more satisfied if you share your plan with your provider at one of your prenatals. This will help you determine if your provider is supportive of your preferences and give you time to discuss your wishes. If you simply show up at the hospital with your plan, it may be harder to discuss any wishes that might be different than hospital protocol.

4. Be thoughtful with your wording and try to keep things positive. This will create a more collaborative environment for your birth. For example, instead of writing, “I don’t want any pain medication” you might write, “I plan to use natural coping techniques for managing pain. If I change my mind, I’ll ask for pain medication.”

5. Keep it short. In addition, try to limit unnecessary language and keep it to one page. This will help you focus on what’s really important to you and will make it easier for nurses to digest. For example, if you know that your birth place already allows freedom of movement in labor, then you don’t need to state your desire for that in your birth preferences.

It is empowering to be informed during pregnancy and birth. Remember, you are a consumer and this experience matters. You can absolutely request certain options be available and decline certain things as well. Finding a provider who supports your preferences will help you have a satisfying and positive experience.

Have you had good experiences creating a birth plan? What tips would you share with pregnant parents?

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Hello, I’m Taylor! I am Mama to three beautiful kids, ages five and three, and a brand new little guy who is snuggling me as I write this. Parenting with my amazing partner James has sent us on a quest to craft the very best life we can imagine for our family. To us, that means that each of us (kids included) can pursue our passions while spending as much time as possible together as a family unit. Since 2011, we have moved three times and both changed careers multiple times. We’re now happily settled in the Seacoast, a truly special place that we think will be our forever home. We both work from home, trading time spent working and time spent with our kids. We are passionate about our homeschooled children taking the lead in their own learning and our days are spent supporting them and their interests. I am a birth and postpartum doula and co-founder of New Mama Project, a site filled with resources and support to help new mothers navigate the postpartum transition and the profound identity shift of becoming a mom. I love exploring the Seacoast, dreaming about traveling, learning to knit, and reading and talking about homeschooling and unschooling.