How to Create a Birth Plan Checklist

Most expectant mothers begin to research childbirth as early as their first trimester. It is a natural instinct to want to know as much as possible about your upcoming delivery and what you can do to make it successful. Consequently, experts often recommend that mothers-to-be prepare a personalized birth plan to make their preferences known during childbirth. Remember, preparing this document does not mean you will have a surprise-free delivery, but it will ensure you are ready. Read on to learn how to create a birth plan with this birth plan checklist.

What Is a Birth Plan?

A birth plan is a written document, usually one or two pages long, that expectant mothers use to convey their labor preferences. Think of it as a personal wish list that tells your doctor what circumstances would constitute the ideal birthing experience for you.

What Is a Birth Plan Checklist?

A birth plan checklist is a catalog that helps you create the ultimate birth plan by pointing out all the details you should include in the main document. It covers all the aspects of labor, including location, ideal environment, postpartum requests, and rooming options.

Note: Even the most thorough birth plan checklist cannot ensure you have control over every aspect of your delivery. Try to be flexible and accept the fact that you might need to deviate from your original plan.

Most birth centers and hospitals provide expectant mothers with a birth plan checklist that explains their stand on childbirth as well as the birth options they offer.

Do I Need to Have a Birth Plan Checklist?

No. Birth plans are not a formal requirement for delivery, but it is advisable to have one, especially if you would like to convey specific wishes about your childbirth. Creating a birth plan lets you relax during delivery because your healthcare provider knows all your preferences.

Tip: Once you create a birth plan checklist, give your doctor a completed copy before your due date and bring one with you to delivery in your hospital bag.

A birth plan checklist will eliminate potential miscommunication or conflict, mitigate disappointment, prevent unrealistic expectations, and increase your chances of a smooth birth experience. However, if creating one makes you nervous, discuss other planning options with your doctor.

When Should You Write a Birth Plan?

Try to start working on your birth plan checklist as early as your second trimester. You don’t need to have anything set in stone immediately, and you can leave the final draft for your 32nd to 36th week of pregnancy. Before then, negotiate any areas of concern with your healthcare provider and fine-tune your checklist until it reflects your ideal birthing scenario.

The Birth Plan Checklist

Giving birth is an exciting experience that will likely toss you some surprises no matter how well you prepare. Remember to be flexible as you use this Birth Plan Checklist to prepare your birth plan:

1. Location

Expectant moms usually have three main delivery location options:

  • Birthing Center: Also called a maternity center. It emphasizes low-tech approaches to delivery. Services are offered by certified nurse-midwives.
  • Hospital: Over 99 percent of deliveries take place in a hospital. You can find a hospital that offers birthing rooms for a more personalized setting.
  • Home: You can also deliver at home, assisted by a certified nurse-midwife or physician.

2. Ideal Environment

Here, you need to describe what you would like your delivery room to look like. Would you like a TV, white noise machine, shower, or fan? Would you like to try different positions during the delivery or walk around the room?

3. Attendees

Would you like your partner, spouse, family members, or friends to be present in the room when you give birth? If so, indicate this on your birth plan.

Tip: Before you settle on the attendees, ask your birthing site if they have a limit for the number of people who can be present in the room with you during delivery.

4. Positions and Apparatus

Would you like to deliver your baby on a birthing chair or bed? If you prefer a bed, indicate this in your birth plan. Most birthing facilities have special beds designed to support you so you can give birth in different positions. The most common ones include:

  • Squatting
  • All fours
  • Kneeling
  • Side-lying
  • Lying down

Alternatively, you can plan to give birth on a birthing stool or chair. These special seats are found in some birthing sites and allow you to give birth in a sitting or squatting position.

5. Other Needs

Your delivery will ultimately be different from the next mother’s, so try to incorporate as many of your needs in the birth plan as possible. Some examples include:

  • Whether you would like to receive pain relief medication.
  • Whether you would like an episiotomy, this is an incision made in the perineum to enlarge the vaginal opening and prevent tearing.
  • Whether you would like continuous or external fetal monitoring, the latter allows you to move around while the former requires you to stay in bed.

Note: If you opt against an episiotomy, you may request warm compresses or local massage to reduce the risk of tearing and lessen your discomfort.

6. Postpartum Options

Finally, indicate your preferences for specific postpartum activities like rooming, circumcision, and the cutting of the umbilical cord. Some questions to consider here include:

  • Would you like your doctor or your spouse to cut the umbilical cord?
  • Would you like to share a room with your child after birth?
  • Is your child going to be circumcised after birth?

The Format for Creating a Birth Plan Checklist

Because your delivery will be one of the most monumental events of your life, you need to create a good rapport with your healthcare provider. This begins with you using a considerate and polite tone in your birth plan. Avoid sounding overly demanding and confrontational. For instance, you can open with, “I understand that deliveries can be unpredictable. This birth plan represents my ideal birth, and I appreciate your support in helping me come as close to it as possible.” After this statement, you can highlight two or more of your most important goals. What issues matter the most to you that, if achieved, will symbolize the ideal birth regardless of the circumstances? With this done, try to incorporate some of your personality into the checklist. Who are you? What does this delivery