While there are many loud internet voices claiming birth plans are pointless, research shows that this isn’t true! In fact, a 2023 study in the journal Women and Birth found that creating a birth plan is not only an effective way for parents-to-be to become aware of their own birthing concerns, preferences, and wishes, but it’s also an invaluable tool for improved communication with care providers. Plus, an earlier report found that creating a birth plan is usually a positive experience for all birthing individuals. Read on to learn what expectations to set around your birth plan, how to make your birth plan, and even a birth plan templates and examples to help you get started.

What’s a birth plan?

A birth plan is not an exact blueprint nor a binding agreement. Instead, a birth plan is a list of preferences detailing what you would like to have happen during your labor and delivery. Essentially, a birth plan is a guideline—and a great starting point, notes the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). What you need along with your birth plan is the understanding that plans often need to shift based on the specifics of your birthing process. The most important thing is that you and your baby are safe—not that your birth plan is followed by the letter.

Do I need a birth plan?

No one needs a birth plan to have a baby. After all, birth plans weren’t even a thing until 1980, when births were almost universally medicalized and devoid of choices. However, putting down your birth plan in words can be a great exercise to get you, your partner, and your healthcare provider talking about all your options.

How to Make a Birth Plan

First, ask your physician or midwife if they have a form, you can fill out to create a birth plan. If they don’t have one, go ahead and use one of the birth plan templates below—or feel free to start from scratch.

If you’re drafting your own birth plan, here are the points most parents-to-be include in their plans:

  • Labor: Pain relief during labor, who will be with you, monitoring, room atmosphere, etc.

  • Delivery: Preferred birthing position, episiotomy, assisted delivery, c-section what-ifs, etc.

  • Immediately following delivery: Cord clamping, placenta wishes, skin-to-skin, etc.

  • Postpartum care: Lactation support, formula supplementation, circumcision, baby in nursery, etc.

You may even want to consider making an alternative birth plan to help guide you if your original birth plan gets taken off course. For example, you may change your mind and opt for an epidural or suddenly, a cesarean section is in the cards. Whether you opt for writing up a birth Plan B and C or not, be sure to include your partner and members of your care team in the process. They’ll be your best advocates during the entire process. (Sometimes it’s tricky to voice your preferences when you’re getting hit with back-to-back contractions!)

After you’ve written your birth plan(s), schedule a time to go over everything with your healthcare provider. Here’s your opportunity to see where you align and where you might diverge—and to talk about how to meet at a place where everyone feels comfortable. Once your care provider signs off, continue to talk about it with your partner to ensure your wishes are top of mind when the big day comes.

Birth Plan Example With Summary

Here’s a partially filled-out birth plan template to give you an idea of how some parents-to-be outline their labor, delivery, recovery, and baby care preferences. There’s a quick summary up top to give the healthcare team must-knows right away.

About-Me Birth Plan Example

This is another example of a partially filled-out birth plan template. For this one, the mom-to-be kept it short-and-sweet, but still hit all the notes that were important to them.


Simplified Birth Plan Template

For some parents-to-be, less is more! This simplified birth plan template hits the major notes of labor, delivery, and newborn care.

Drug-Free Birth Plan Example

If you are planning on forgoing an epidural or other medicated pain management during your labor and delivery, use this drug-free birth plan template to help you create your own.

ACOG-Inspired Birth Plan Template

This birth plan very much falls in line with the birth plan template that the pros at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists outlines on their website...with a few twists!

Condensed Birth Plan Template

Short and sweet, use this birth plan example to inspire your own simple birth plan.

C-Section Birth Plan Template

Whether you have a scheduled cesarean section or you’re prepping for “what’s ifs,” it’s smart to consider having a c-section birth plan. To help you create one, check out this c-section birth plan template.

General Birth Plan Template

This general birth plan template hits all the bases, no matter what type of birth you are shooting for. Consider it an A+ starting point for sorting out your birthing preferences.

Happiest Baby Birth Plan Template (Free Download!)

Download this fill-in-the-blank birth plan to better understand and express your birth preferences.

Download Your Happiest Baby Birth Plan!


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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.