Advise Me

4 Steps To Create Your Birth Plan

Each year, nearly 4 million babies are born in the U.S!

With so many births each year, you may wonder how you can make the birth of your baby special and unique. You may have a clear idea of how you want your child’s delivery to go, but once labor begins, these decisions could change. That’s why it’s so important to create a birth plan with your provider to ensure that your experience matches your expectation.

Here are four steps for creating a birth plan:

1. Fill Out a Birth Plan Form

Although it may be tempting to create a long, detailed birth plan – it’s better to keep it short and easy for everyone to read. Most hospitals and medical providers offer a birth plan preferences document. 

Some items your plan may include:

  • The Basics: your name, treating physician, where you plan on giving birth, and who you plan on having there with you in the room
  • Comfort Measures: epidural or drug-free? What about birthing balls or aromatherapy? Stipulate how you’d like to be aided in pain relief.
  • The Umbilical Cord: Do you want cord blood collected and stored? Delayed clamping?
  • Obstetrics Care: Do you want an episiotomy; What are your preferences on vaginal exams during labor?
  • Newborn Care: Do you plan on breastfeeding. Do you want delayed bathing to bond with baby – skin-to-skin contact?

2. Discuss with Your Doctor

After you have completed the form, review it with your spouse or partner and anyone else who will be in the delivery room with you, such as a doula or labor coach, to make sure they are aware of your wishes. Then meet with your doctor to go through the plan.

“This is an opportunity for discussion between the parents and the provider. It helps their doctor guide the parents through what may or may not be possible, it determines any inconsistencies in expectations, and helps the parents feel involved in the process,” said Dr. Narinder Brar, DO, Banner Health OBGYN at Arizona Maternity and Women’s Clinic Inc. “Reviewing ahead of delivery gives us time to help resolve any potential issues there may be, whether there are delivery policies that conflict. Discussions provide the opportunity for education and it is a preparation for best practice of medicine and excellent patient care.”

3. Tour the Birthing Center or Hospital 

If possible, ask to have a hospital or birthing center tour to become familiar with the labor and delivery process and how it fits with your birth plan.  

4. Share the Plan

Once your birth plan is set, make a few copies for your doctor’s office, anyone who will be with you in the delivery room and for the hospital or birthing center once you arrive. It’s also good to bring any additional copies with you if another doctor ends up delivering your baby.  

Keep in mind: If you haven’t created one yet, don’t sweat. Most of these preferences can be made once you are at the hospital. But it’s important to discuss options with your partner and doctor. 

5. Expect the Unexpected 

Despite the best intentions of parents-to-be, sometimes childbirth simply doesn’t go as planned. The good news is that just because labor doesn’t go according to the birth plan, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t a healthy, successful birth. 

“We are all about our patients having excellent experiences, but often things may not go as expected,” Dr. Brar says. “Two things I recommend are for patients to speak up with questions, so we know what they are struggling with and to keep an open mind. We want to ensure both mom and baby always receive the best care.” 

The birth of your child is an extremely personal and deeply emotional experience. The Banner Health team is ready to work with you to design an environment that is comfortable for you, the baby and the medical professionals serving you. Schedule your appointment and begin planning your ideal experience.

An important part of planning for your child's birth is picking a pediatrician. Watch this series of videos for things to consider and questions to ask when selecting your pediatrician. You can find a pediatrician near you at

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