When it comes to creating your birth plan, where do you even start? Aside from all the choices you have to make about
your delivery, how do you make the actual plan? The good news is that you’re not the first parent to wish for a little guidance, so there are plenty of free birth plan templates available online whether this is your first pregnancy, you’re planning on a V-BAC, in case this turns out to be an emergency cesarean, and everything in between.
When you’re scrolling through all the printable birth plans out there, so take some time to find a format that you like. Maybe you want
all the possible options you could consider in one big list so you can just check off which ones you want, or perhaps you’d rather use a simple birth plan template that’s short and sweet. If you’re having a planned C-section, a home birth, or giving birth to multiples, it’s important to find a printable birth plan that addresses the unique decisions you’ll need to make for those specific types of delivery. And for those having a vaginal birth after C-section, when your delivery could really go either way, a VBAC birth plan is going to be helpful for everyone involved.
After you’ve found a birth plan template you like, you’ll likely want to print more than one copy to fill out. At the hospital, you can usually add your birth plan to your patient records, and you may want to bring copies for your nurses and doctors when you arrive to deliver your baby. In birth centers or at home, your midwife or doula may want copies as well.
1 Simple birth plan template
Looking for a one-page option that covers the essentials and doesn’t overwhelm you with the rest? This printable
birth plan template from Truly Mama focuses on need-to-know information about you and your delivery. The checklist includes some of the most common preferences listed in birth plans — like wearing your own clothes and delayed cord clamping — so you can check the boxes you want and forget the rest. It even includes a section on C-section wishes in case you have one, because even the simplest birth plans should address all the possibilities. The color-coded sections are a nice way to break up the information for your providers, too. 2 Detailed birth plan template
One major reason birth planning can feel so overwhelming is all the medical decision-making, especially when you don’t know what’s standard practice and what you have to specifically ask for. This
printable birth plan from the Cord for Life Foundation includes brief descriptions of what typically happens during that stage of labor, and why it’s important to think about your options. It’s a helpful introduction to the whole birth planning process. 3 Checklist birth plan template
A checklist-style birth plan template like this one from
the Peanut app covers many popular preferences, meaning you can simply print it out and select the options that suit you. The sections address each stage of your delivery — active labor, pushing, and immediately postpartum — so you can envision how everything will flow on the big day. This printable birth plan template is a one-page, one-sided option, which makes it easier for busy doctors and nurses to read in its entirety, ensuring they know exactly what’s most important to you. If anything is missing from the checklist sections, you can always add it in the notes area. 4 Fill-in-the-blank birth plan template
If you want full control over what your birth plan says and you want it to look polished when you’re done, this is the template for you. The Savvy Mama Lifestyle blog’s
birth plan worksheet breaks your preferences up by topic (atmosphere, pain management, and so on), but otherwise leaves the description of your choices up to you. Midwives, doulas, nurses, and doctors will love that they’re not scanning a long document for which boxes you’ve checked and which you haven’t, and guarantees that the preferences you care about are front and center. This printable template is more for people who have a good sense of what they want. If you haven’t researched all of your birth plan options yet, some of the other templates in this list may give you a better jumping-off point. 5 One page birth plan template
Want to fit all the essentials on one page? The
birth plan template from Motif Medical is free, printable, and designed to be easy to read quickly. It ensures everything that matters to you gets across clearly while keeping things short and simple. 6 Visual birth plan template
If wordy checklists are not your vibe, a picture-based birth plan might be more appealing. This design-forward, visually-focused
birth plan template from Mama Natural will be sent to your email address, where you can choose between a downloadable Word doc or Google doc. Once you have the template, you can edit it to create a beautiful, visual printable birth plan for yourself and your care team. Icons are color-coded, with blue emphasizing things you do want (think saving the placenta or immediate skin-to-skin) and red signifying things you don’t (like no episiotomy). Organize the icons by stage of delivery, and voilà: a pretty and practical birth plan that’s easy for even the busiest delivery team to understand and follow. 7 C-section birth plan template
Yes, birth plans for cesarean sections are totally a thing. While you may not have all of the same options you would during a vaginal delivery, many hospitals can work with you to make your planned C-section into the experience you want it to be. Clothing brand Kindred Bravely actually has one of the best
free, printable birth plans out there for C-section mamas. It lists options you may not have known you had, like requesting what music is played in the operating room, and asking that any monitoring devices be placed on your back so your baby can easily be placed on your chest for skin-to-skin contact immediately after delivery. 8 VBAC birth plan template
Some people want their birth plan to be as thorough as possible — and understandably so, because giving birth is kind of a big deal. The
free birth plan template from The Bump is a whopping six pages long, and truly covers everything . It starts off with some medical history (especially important if you have any chronic conditions), dives into the atmosphere you want to create, lists a multitude of pain-relief choices, pushing positions, and so much more. It’s also the perfect VBAC birth plan template because it includes a portion for C-section preferences should you require one. 9 Home birth plan template
If you’re hoping to have a home birth,
this worksheet might be just what you need. It prompts you about everything your home birth providers will want to know as they prepare for your baby’s arrival. Chances are you’ll discuss all of the things included here — like your favorite essential oils to diffuse during labor or what parts of the birth you do and don’t want photographed — with your midwife during pregnancy. But when you’re in the thick of those contractions, a written birth plan can give you a sense of calm, knowing that everyone around you knows exactly what your wishes are. 10 Hospital birth plan template
Many free, printable birth plans out there are designed with hospital births in mind, and include sections on pain management with epidurals, C-section wishes should you need one, and more. This
printable birth plan template from Baby Chick takes it a step further by including a NICU plan, which you may not need but will be grateful to have if you do. It includes lots of induction and labor options, plenty of choices surrounding pushing, as well as important and thoughtful postpartum considerations not found in other templates, like whether you’re donating or banking cord blood. 11 Online birth plan template
Want to build your birth plan online instead of filling out multiple copies by hand? Earth Mama Organics has a
free birth-plan tool to do just that. You’ll have to enter your name and email address, meaning you may get some emails from them later, but once you see the tool you may decide it’s worth it. This birth-plan template applies to both hospital births and birth-center births, and lets you list who you’d like in your room at different stages of labor, how you’d like the atmosphere to feel, and your goals for every stage of labor. 12 Birth plan template for multiples
If you’re expecting twins or multiples, you’ve probably already noticed that most birth plan templates don’t exactly apply to your delivery. This
free, printable template from Twiniversity is focused completely on twins, and includes detailed checklists of options for labor and pushing, as well as preferences for postpartum care. Best of all? It’s extremely simple — just check your preferences, make copies for everyone in your care circle, and move on. 13 Birth plan template for life-limiting conditions
While no parents want to imagine losing their newborn, some couples face labor and delivery knowing that will be the outcome. For those parents, planning their time with their baby can feel like one of the most important things they’ll ever do. Anencephaly.org is a resource website focused on one life-limiting condition, but their
birth-plan template can be used by any parents in a similar situation. It includes space to share your spiritual or cultural beliefs, your concerns and biggest fears, your hopes for your time with baby, any medical interventions you want (or don’t), and more that you won’t find in standard birth plan templates. 14 A birth plan template to help you prioritize
If you’re trying to simplify your birth plan, or just figure out what’s important to you, the
Determining Birth Preferences Worksheet from The VBAC Link is here to help. Simply print the packet, cut out the cards (each lists a birth plan preference you may have, like using a birth center), and follow the directions. At the end, you’ll know your top three priorities for your birth, and have a list of 10 additional goals that are important to you, all of which you can hand right to your doctor. To download, scroll to the bottom of the web page, enter your email, and you’ll receive the PDF there.
Whether you’re scheduling a C-section or planning a water birth in the comfort of your own home, know that there’s a simple birth plan template out there for you. Whether you use the template as-is or as a jumping-off point, it can save you a lot of time by showing you what has mattered to the many parents who have gone before you.
This article was originally published on
July 14, 2022