If you would like your birth experience to go as smoothly as possible, having a natural birth plan template before your due date is the most beneficial step.
Having to give birth is hard enough.
So don’t worry about the options you’ll have to weigh on the spot. This birth plan template should guide you in making informed choices for your baby’s care and safety.
We’ve created a comprehensive natural birth plan template to guide you in constructing your personalized natural birth plan to give to your doctor, birthing center, or healthcare provider.
What to Include in a Natural Birth Plan
A birth plan is the blueprint of your birth preferences for before, during, and after labor and post delivery of your precious one, to help your birth team support your birthing process in the best possible way.
Your natural birth plan contains all your wishes pertaining to your birth, emphasizing that you would like it to be as natural as possible.
Besides listing birth preferences, a typical birth plan should also factor in what’s practical and feasible, as well as what the hospital or birthing center has available or will accommodate.
Having said all that, here are a few key reminders that may be helpful in constructing your natural birth plan (the last 2 may be the most important if you plan on having a natural birth):
1. Remember to keep your birth plan straightforward.
If your birth plan is straight to-the-point, or even one page long, a health care provider is more likely to understand your birth plans so that they can follow through.
Win-win because this mutual agreement on a plan helps you feel more comfortable in their hands.
2. Use short sentences or bullets.
You’ll find that this birth plan template is short and simple. In the heat of things, during labor and delivery, no one has the capacity to go through page after page of a lengthy birth plan.
3. Bring several copies of your birth plan.
Just in case there is a nurse shift while you’re in labor, either in a hospital or birth center.
4. Make sure your companion is aware of your birth plan.
It’s important that whoever will be there to support you is aware of all the information on your birth plan to make decisions off of you, and to make sure as much of your plan happens.
5. Remain flexible.
The irony here is to let things run its natural course. If your natural birth story takes an unexpected turn and something from your plan can’t be followed, keep in mind that it’s good to remain flexible.
After all, it’s an ideal birth plan, not a rule. You prepare a backup plan for unexpected situations instead.
6. Find a practitioner you trust and feel comfortable sharing your birth plan with.
Find a healthcare provider who fully supports your intention to have a natural birth. Don’t settle if you don’t trust your practitioner, or feel like your birth plans aren’t being respected.
The care provider you choose plays a huge role in your birth experience. You don’t have to compromise your experience in the hands of someone who doesn’t support the unmedicated birth of your baby.
7. You have to commit to natural birth.
Creating a birth plan sets in stone your desire for a natural birth. You know why you want it natural, you put it in a birth plan, so the last part is mentally committing to it. You can do it!
Maybe you can read a natural birthing book. Soak up information to make the best choices for the birth of your baby. There are numerous great natural birthing classes you can learn techniques from.
How to Create Your Own Natural Birth Plan
The general sections of your birth plan template include:
- Your requests during your labor and delivery,
- Your requests immediately after your baby ‘s birth, and
- Your requests for the care of your newborn
Choose YOUR birth preferences from this free birth plan template and write the following quoted requests below to tackle the following topics (no need to include all options in your natural birth plan).
1. Requests During Labor and Delivery
How do you wish your birthing atmosphere to be? Think about it well and be specific in stating your preferences regarding certain issues or scenarios, remembering that not all choices may be permitted.
Be clear about how you want the whole labor process to go for you, including what procedures you are comfortable with. Here are some ideas:
“My Preferred People Present During Labor Are ___”
Who is it that you would like to have next to you during labor and/or at delivery? Just your partner? Or perhaps you’d support from your personal childbirth doula, your friends, or family members.
“I Prefer A Natural and Unmedicated Birth”
Let your birth attendants and nurses know a natural birth is important to you, so they remember to avoid medication and interventions as much as possible.
“No Induction; I Want Labor to Happen on Its Own” or “Pitocin Only If Necessary”
Sometimes Pitocin (an oxytocin injection) is used to induce and augment contractions. If it isn’t medically necessary, it’s best to avoid it to steer clear of its possible adverse side effects.
“I Prefer My Water to Break on Its Own.”
Prematurely rupturing the bag of waters doesn’t guarantee labor. In fact, when the water is broken for induction, there is a slightly increased risk of Cesarean delivery.
The risks include increased pain, an increase in fetal distress and malposition, and an increased risk of infection the longer the bag is broken.
“No IV” or “Free Movement”
Being wired to an IV really limits the ability to move around freely during labor. The freedom of mama to move spontaneously is crucial to maintaining normalcy during childbirth.
Free movement is considered essential to the woman’s comfort and well-being, as well as for the progression of labor.
“I Do Not Consent to the Use of Forceps or Vacuum Extraction”
Forceps are surgical instruments shaped like salad tongs, and the vacuum is a soft or rigid cup and a vacuum pump, both applied to the baby’s head to help guide the baby out of the birth canal.
It’s generally safer not to use interventions like a vacuum or forceps to assist in the birth of your child as these do carry some risks to both mom and the baby.
“No Membrane Sweep”
During membrane sweeping, a doctor or midwife will use a gloved hand to sweep inside the cervix to induce labor. However, the procedure does not usually start labor right away.
A membrane sweep can lead to prolonged labors and if you do have membrane sweeping, expect to feel some cramping or contractions, and spotting.
“Food and/or Drink for Mama”
In recent years, it has been found that, in fact, eating and drinking is safe for laboring people.
This is great news because (aptly named) labor and birth are physical tasks that require both strength and stamina from mama.
“I Am Group B Strep (GBS) Positive/Negative”
Just so your doctor knows. Testing GBS positive only means that a mother has the bacteria in her body, not that she or her baby will necessarily become sick from it.
Giving pregnant women antibiotics through the vein (IV) during labor can prevent most early-onset GBS disease in newborns.
“My Preferred Birthing Positions Are ___ “
Would you like to sit up or move around during labor? These positions allow you to be fully upright and allow gravity to assist you in laboring.
Going on your hands and knees is another way to cope more comfortably if you’re experiencing back labor. Don’t be embarrassed as this really takes the pressure off your spine.
“I’d Like As Few Vaginal Exams As Possible”
Vaginal exams can be uncomfortable, painful and can lead to prolonged labors and more interventions. To help keep you in the zone, avoid getting checked too frequently.
Another reason to avoid too many vaginal/cervical exams is the risk of infection.
“Minimal Intermittent Fetal Monitoring”
For low-risk pregnancies, experts agree there’s no need for continuous fetal monitoring. Plus, continuous monitoring just affects mama and her ability to relax and focus on labor.
“Quiet Room and Lights Dimmed”
You definitely need a relaxed vibe. If you feel like having the lights off or dimmed during labor, or maybe even putting specific music on, say so. It may make a huge difference in how relaxed you feel.
“No Students Please”
This request is particularly important if you’re giving birth at a teaching hospital that lets students observe, or even perform, medical procedures.
“No Medication Unless I Am Aware and Provide Consent” or “Please Do Not Offer Me An Epidural or Pain Medication. I Will Request As Needed.”
Studies find some side effects to using epidurals, and observed that births take a bit longer on average in women who have epidurals.
Because taking an epidural means mothers can’t feel when it is time to push, their baby is more likely to need to be delivered with the help of instruments.
“Water Birth”, “Massage, Hot therapy, Shower, Birthing ball”
Water birthing occurs in a pool filled with warm water. The use of a birthing tub may help ease pain, keep you from needing anesthesia, and shorten your labor.
What equipment would you want to be available to you for you to use in active labor? Maybe a birthing bar, birthing stool, birthing ball, or just more pillows. Whatever might help in your pain management!
“No Episiotomy Unless Necessary for the Baby’s Safety”
An episiotomy is a surgical cut made in the perineum to widen the opening during childbirth. You may want to avoid it since recovery from an episiotomy can be longer and more painful than a natural tear.
“Please Coach Me on Pushing to Help Avoid Tearing”
The benefit of being coached by your nurse (or even your doula) on when to push is you can avoid tearing by pushing during a strong contraction.
2. Requests Immediately After Birth
How do you wish to conclude your baby’s birth? Thinking right after you just gave birth isn’t something you would really want to do, so it’s best to write it in advance in this birth plan section.
General Preferences Immediately After The Baby’ s Birth
“Please Allow For As Much Silence As Possible After Baby is Born”
Wouldn’t it be nice to give your baby a gentle welcome as they take experience their first moments on earth? In this peaceful moment, talk to your baby and let them hear your sweet voice.
“Baby and Mom To Be Reunited As Soon as Possible” or “Father to Conduct Skin-to-Skin If I Am Unable”
Skin-to-skin care, also known as kangaroo baby care, has so many benefits for mom and baby.
“Hold Off Any Tests Until After The Golden Hour” or “Breastfeeding As Soon As Possible”
The golden hour is bonding time for mom and baby. In this time frame, you have the benefit of nursing your baby right away and jumpstarting your breastmilk supply thanks to the love hormones filling you.
“Do Not Wipe Down Baby”
This white, waxy coating on your newborn is found to play some protective roles during fetal development and for a few hours after birth.
Delivery of Placenta
“No Pitocin; Please Allow the Placenta to Deliver On Its Own”
Natural birth actually has a delivery part two – the baby’s placenta. Again, if it isn’t medically necessary, it’s best to steer clear of any pain medication and its possible adverse side effects.
Some moms just want to save the placenta they give birth to for certain beliefs.
“My Partner Will Cut the Umbilical Cord After It Stops Pulsating and Turns White”
Delayed cord clamping, after the umbilical cord stops pulsating, allows the baby to receive billions of red blood cells, stem cells, white blood cells, and other crucial substances from the placenta after birth.
Letting your partner participate in delayed cord clamping is also a great way to give your partner an active role during your delivery since it’s important that both of you feel like parents who are in this together!
“Donate Cord Blood”
Some parents choose to donate cord blood to the bank (if the blood meets the standards) since it has very important health benefits .
This decision to donate is something you can write in your birth plan so they can do it automatically.
3. Requests for Newborn Baby Care
This part of your natural birth plan is where you express your expectations, given the options, of care from the hospital for both you and your baby during recovery.
“No Pacifiers; No Formula”
Pacifiers and formula milk can both lead to nipple confusion, which can complicate breastfeeding and baby care in the future.
Check out our list for newborn breastfeeding essentials!
Make sure to prepare a nursing pillow so you and your baby will both be comfortable.
“Yes/No to Circumcision”
Now, this is purely up to you and your beliefs on circumcision.
However, there are certain risks to keep in mind as the American Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatrics do not recommend this routine procedure.
If your baby does undergo circumcision, sugar water is often administered to babies on a pacifier or via syringe to help calm them down during the process. Though, there are reasons not to give sugar water.
Hepatitis B Vaccine
“Do / Do Not Administer The Hep B Vaccine”
Unless the mother is infected, it is very rare for a newborn to contract hepatitis B. If you’re clear of this and you’re opting for natural, you can skip this.
Antibiotic Eye Ointment
“Only If Tested Positive and Necessary”
Sometimes, eye ointment is given to prevent neonatal conjunctivitis if the mother has chlamydia or gonorrhea. Otherwise, this procedure is unnecessary and can even cause blurred vision for your baby.
“Administer Preservative-Free Vitamin K Shot” or “Oral Vitamin K “
Although we’re trying to avoid unnecessary medication here, babies may experience hemorrhaging if they do not take the Vitamin K shot so this one may be important.
Some mamas choose to skip this step or opt for oral vitamin K instead. The oral dose of vitamin K provides a smaller dose of this class C drug.
If Emergency C – Section Delivery
In the case that a C Section was really necessary despite your birth plan, it’s okay. What’s important is mama and her baby made it!
Given that, giving baby probiotics after a C section is usually a good idea because that further supports the gut health and development of your baby.
Note: You can ask your physician about vaginal seeding – where they swipe your vaginal bacteria on your baby as if they were born naturally (not recommended if you have any recurring infections).
Researchers theorize that this could reduce the risk of asthma, hay fever (allergic rhinitis), eczema, and immune disorders of Caesarian babies.
Do I Really Need a Birth Plan?
Absolutely. You don’t want to have to make important decisions on the fly if you don’t have to.
As early as pregnancy, it is essential for you to take the time to learn about your options during birth. Whether it turns out to by natural means or c section, there are a lot of options you can have a say in.
You are a crucial active participant in the momentous birth of your baby, and no one else can argue. Writing out a birth plan will empower you as a mother – it’s your pregnancy, your body, and your baby.
Not only can a good birth plan deliver a better birth experience, but having one can also eliminate major miscommunication between a birth mom and her birth team.
If you choose your birth attendant with care, you may not even need to write down many of the things found in most birth plans. That’s why a good birth team is important.
For example, a good midwife won’t routinely break your water, do unnecessary cervical exams, or insist on continuous fetal monitoring.
However, if you’re delivering at a hospital and plan to have a natural childbirth, creating a birth plan is probably a good idea because standards of care differ from one hospital to the other.
A hospital can have compatible policies for natural childbirth, but a different hospital will assume you’re fine with labor interventions.
If you’d like to avoid the latter, a birth plan can be a very important tool for you.
Is a Natural Birth Painful?
Why You Shouldn’t Worry:
Labor pain varies widely from woman to woman and even from pregnancy to pregnancy.
In any case, nature’s design works beautifully. The pain of labor is what most women worry about, but it’s important to understand that the pain of the contractions is valuable.
In a very real sense, the pain of each contraction becomes a guide for the laboring woman. When pain is entirely removed from childbirth, labor is likely to slow down and become less efficient.
The positions a mother chooses in response to what she feels actually help labor progress by increasing the strength and efficiency of the contractions, encouraging the baby to move down the birth canal.
By changing positions herself, she not only protects the muscles of the birth canal and perineum but also protects her baby as he is born.
As labor naturally progresses, endorphins (much more potent than morphine) are released in increasing amounts, resulting in naturally decreased pain perception. Nature’s narcotic!
Basically, a mother can worry less about pain because endorphins create a dream-like state, which actually helps women manage the tasks of birthing.
Throughout unmedicated birth, women get in the zone and become much less aware yet at the same time much more focused on the work of labor, tapping into an inner wisdom.
All a woman needs is to be surrounded by family, friends, and health care providers who remind her of the power of birth and encourage and comfort her patiently.
A mother birthing naturally moves in response to what she feels. Whether she gives birth in a hospital, birthing center, or at home, she is able to use a wide variety of comfort measures.
For example, moving freely, listening to music, taking a bath, and having her feet and hands massaged – creating this environment is what mama needs as she does the hard work of labor and home birth.
A mother will know what to do—not because she has read a book or attended a class, but because her journey together with her baby has physically and emotionally prepared them both for this moment.
At the end of the day, no one is any more or less of a mom if they need an epidural or have a C-section. With her baby in her arms, she is in awe, at peace, and astounded at the miracle she has produced.
What Is the Easiest Way to Have a Natural Birth?
When you avoid epidurals and interventions, you and your baby can have a much easier, speedier recovery. Not to mention, you’ll be more alert and present during the delivery of your baby.
However, getting through a natural birthing process easily doesn’t happen like magic to everyone. Thankfully, there are methods that can help you achieve a successful, natural, low-intervention birth.
Tips to Have an Easier Labor
1. You Can Position Your Baby Early
At around 34 weeks of pregnancy, you can encourage your baby to get into the right position for birth by regularly kneeling or using a tool such as a birthing ball.
2. Stay Fit & Strong
Childbirth calls for energy and stamina. You increase your chances for success of unmedicated birth by being very physically fit. Aim for regular exercise (walking or yoga) and, of course, a healthy diet!
Hip flexibility will greatly help you when it comes time to push. So don’t forget stretching too!
3. Find A Support Person
Basically, any solid support person to distract you from the pain, talk you through what’s next, and cheer you on. It can be your spouse; sometimes, it’s the doctor. This is also what a doula is for.
4. Mentally Prepare
First and foremost, this is how having a birth plan can help. Gathering as much knowledge as you can give you realistic expectations and instills confidence as you carry out your birthing plan.
You can also learn (through any means) the different stages of labor, what to expect, and how your others can help you.
5. Learn to Face Contractions
When you’re afraid of the incoming labor pain, your body’s reaction is to stiffen, which tends to exacerbate discomfort. The tightening of some muscles will counterproductively hold the baby in.
The fix is to get used to relaxing your muscles rather than tensing them in response to pain, which you can maybe learn and practice in a class.
6. Move Around During Labor
If you walk around your home or the hospital, you should have less pain and are more likely to actually have a shorter labor.
Try rocking, squatting, sitting, swaying, and switching sides while resting to help your body work with your contractions since gravity and mobility help baby move down.
7. Spend Early Labor At Home
Staying home from the hospital as long as possible is an effective strategy for a natural early labor.
If you plan to spend early labor at home, call your midwife/ doctor/ hospital when your contractions are at least five minutes apart for an hour or more.
It can also be time to call the hospital if contractions are getting progressively stronger and closer together no matter how you move.
8. Use Water
You can use a shower, bathtub, birthing pool, or hot compresses for easing pain. Some moms find that using a birthing pool for labor makes their experience much easier and relaxed.
9. Active Relaxation
Rhythmic breathing (slowly and deeply), meditation, self-hypnosis, and other relaxation techniques are excellent tools that can help get rid of the fear, tension and pain.
This birth plan template helps women feel confident, supported, and encouraged to enjoy the freedom to tap into their own wisdom and find deep satisfaction in birthing naturally.
Don’t forget to include postpartum plans as well! Best to prepare your household’s meals beforehand so that you would get enough rest and time with your newborn.
The process itself prepares mother and baby perfectly in every way to continue on their journey together.
Why have a birth plan for your natural childbirth? The more important question might be “Why not?”.
July 23, 2021 – updated schema
July 22, 2021 – updated interlinking, updated external links