Envision your Dream Birth Plan

When we wrote our birth plan for our first baby, my husband and I were surprised to realize how many things we hadn’t thought about before. Who was going to cut the cord? Did we want our newborn wiped off or just handed directly to me for skin-to-skin contact? Did we want to circumcise? Eek! Those questions hadn’t even crossed our minds yet, and we were so glad that we had a chance to research and consider our decisions before delivery.

A good birth plan can be a great way to communicate your wishes to your health care providers or doula. A birth plan is a written out description of what you would like your birth to look like and what procedures you desire to have or wish to avoid. It is a great exercise to help moms and dads-to-be consider decisions and details about their upcoming birth.

But I want to be clear about what a birth plan is NOT: It is a not a guarantee that your birth will go exactly as planned. It is not your ticket to an easy and perfect birth experience. Every birth is different and complications sometimes arise that change our well-crafted plans. So think about your birth plan as a well-thought out expression of your ideal wishes for your birth (and keep a big dose of flexibility right by your side!)

At my second child’s birth, one of our nurses actually loved how we structured our birth plan so much that she asked to keep a copy of it to use as a model for a birthing class she teaches. So, I wanted to share some ideas for you mamas-to-be to consider as you’re brainstorming.

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About the Author

Haley is a Catholic wife and mama of three little ones, ballet teacher, and lover of all things Jane Austen, Evelyn Waugh, and Wendell Berry. Find her at Carrots for Michaelmas where she writes about urban homesteading, motherhood, literature, faith, homeschooling, and her undying love for bacon.


  1. This is great advice and I completely agree with watching the tone of your birth plan. It is your birth, but you unfortunately have to walk a fine line to not give the impression that you are dictating to health care providers about how to do their jobs. But definitely important to make sure your team knows what type of experience you’d like!

    I might also add considering to include in birth plans to wait until the cord stops pulsing before it is cut. This ensures better oxygenation of the baby’s blood and gives infants better iron status during their first days, decreasing the risk of anemia. It isn’t standard practice in hospitals, but is among Naturopaths and midwives. Asking when your doc or midwife typically cuts the cord is a good way to start the conversation.

    • Thanks, Jolene. That is great advice. Definitely something I’m going to consider as we get ready for Baby #3’s arrival :)

  2. Aleena Hetzel says:

    My baby was born at 27 weeks. I was on preemie boards and met women who had this amazing birth plan all planned out in their head and when they needed a c-section or something happened, they felt like they were cheated. They didn’t have the birth they wanted and were so let down with the entire experience. You are not going to the store for a gallon of milk, you are having a baby and ALOT can happen that you have no control over. Having a plan is great, but at the end of the day, it’s not about what you WANT, it’s about what you and your baby need. Plan for the unexpected.

    • Planning for the unexpected is great advice. In Birthing From Within Childbirh classes like the ones I used to teach we would go over scenarious of things parents were really hoping to avoid, and work through them, so that if they did happen, they hopefully are less likely to feel like they got the rug pulled out from underneath them. Another great concept BFW mentors teach is the “Next Best Thing” anytime your birth plan changes think about what is the next best thing to do?

  3. Jess Guest says:

    I am gearing up for birth number 7 and don’t have a birth plan. However, my midwife has caught 5/6 of my other kiddos and understands very intimately exactly what we want for our births. She is an independent midwife and we have the choice of home or a free standing birth centre. It is a rare relationship to have in this day and age (even if you have access to an independent midwife, not many go back 7 times) but I highly recommend it!

    • Very rare! So happy that you get to experience that. I wish every woman could.

    • We also use a midwife (our last 3 babies were born at home) and we are pregnant again (with our #10) and our midwife will deliver this one, too. So this will be our 4th delivery with the same midwife. Had I known about birthing at home back when I first started having babies, I would have had ALL our births this way. But with our #6 we decided to try something different (I really wanted a waterbirth) and so home delivery was our option with that. And now we wouldn’t do it any other way! (well, that of course depends on the health of me and the baby – if a hospital birth was required for safety, of course we’d go that route again.)
      Congrats on your #7!!

  4. I think that sounds like a very reasonable birth plan. As a labor and delivery nurse I see a wide variety of these, and you pointed out some really great facts. At the end of the day, or morning, all I want is for my patient to feel supported in her decisions, safe and healthy.

  5. I love this post! With my first, I had no plan and I only knew what would/could happen. Labor started naturally, I was given petocin because I had stopped dilating. I opted to get an epidural at this point (14 hours into labor!). Normal vaginal delivery. I waited 6 years for the next baby. This time I considered options, made a birth plan and was much more prepared.

    I started natural labor and his face was turned the wrong direction. Intensely painful! Long story short, his heart rate dropped and he would fight his was up into my chest with each push/contraction and he was born via c-section. Turns out the cord was around his neck and he was choking. My poor sweetheart! This was not my birth plan.

    The point, it may not have been what I wanted or what I prepared for, but my son is here. He made it. I feel many of us take for granted the child birthing process and how dangerous and complicated it is. We sometimes forget how many moms and children don’t survive. Honestly, I thank God everyday for him (and my daughter!) being here- no matter how they arrived.

    I am saddened to know that should we choose to have another baby, they WILL be a c-section. I feel robbed. On the other hand, if it happens I will remind myself that its only about the health and safety of my child. Whew! I feel better! Thank you for letting me vent! :)

    • Thanks for sharing your birth stories (I LOVE hearing about birth stories!). And you’re right, what matters is a safe delivery and a healthy little one! So glad you and baby are safe even though things didn’t turn out how you’d hoped!

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