Written out, documented birth plans are relatively new, becoming increasingly popular over the past 10-20 years. As such, many websites now provide free birth plan templates you can use to help record your thoughts and best-laid plans for your birth.
We’ll guide you through a few of the birth plan template options out there so you can find the template and style that’s best for you.
But first, what is a birth plan?
A birth plan is a document, laid out in advance, that expresses a pregnant mother’s desires for her birth. I use the word desires because sometimes the word “plan” is a bit of a misnomer. While planning for birth can be positive, it’s important to remember that birth is a process that unfolds in many different manners.
A birth plan may include a mother’s preferences and intentions for things like guests in the delivery room, natural childbirth coping techniques, methods of medical pain relief (or not), use of a midwife or coach, birthing positions, cord blood banking, or delayed cord clamping, etc.
Your birth plan will also be personalized according to where you plan to give birth. Hospitals and birthing centers both offer various options for labor help and pain relief. A home birth with a midwife will have its own set of choices.
Just remember that no two births are exactly alike. While it’s great to plan ahead and think through what you’d like to see happen (or not happen), sometimes things change during labor.
A birth plan template checklist
This birth plan template style is nice because you don’t have to do a lot of explaining or preparing. Just read through the options and check off what aligns best with your personal preferences.
This may be especially helpful if you’re having your first baby and you’re not sure where to start. You can grab a pretty extensive, free checklist template form Unitypoint.org here. (Bonus: you don’t even have to enter any contact information. You can just click and print!)
Another checklist-style birth plan template can be found here. It’s not as lengthy as the first one, but that can actually be a positive. It all fits on one page for easy printing and communicating.
A more simple, visual birth plan template
This birth plan template from Mama Natural is short and sweet — only one page. It’s also largely visual, so minimal reading is involved.
Doctors and nurses care for many patients, so even if they do read your birth plan, they may quickly forget. You could post this one on your door or other approved location and it may help serve as a simple visual reminder of your birth preferences.
You do have to enter your name and email to get the free template.
Fill-in-the-blank birth plan templates
A birth plan template like this allows you to customize it more to your personal preferences and desires. It also gives you a chance to communicate more detail if you deem it necessary.
If you have strong, specific preferences and don’t want to be limited by predefined choices on a checklist, this style of birth plan template may be a good fit for you. The same is true if you’re contemplating a less common birthing technique, such as hypnobirthing.
(Or you could try a hybrid birth plan checklist! This one is both a checklist and a fill-in-the-blank!)
Should you have a birth plan?
That’s really up to you. A well-informed expectant mom is, without a doubt, a positive thing. I encourage all expectant moms to be educated about childbirth and become as prepared as possible for the delivery of their baby.
This might include taking a childbirth class, watching birth videos, having extensive conversations with your provider, or ideally, all of the above!
Some moms feel better knowing they’ve thought through as many details as possible in advance. A birth plan can give them a sense of calm.
Other moms may feel overwhelmed by trying to decide so many preferences ahead of time. In that case, it may be best to skip the birth plan in favor of a more wait-and-see approach.
Only you can decide what works best for you and your future delivery plans!