A childbirth plan empowers pregnant women, outlining her preferences for labor, delivery, and postpartum care. Recommended by the WHO since 1986, it ensures informed choices, fostering a positive birthing experience. Learn the basics, decide preferences like pain management, and use available templates to articulate your vision. Share to support maternal rights in childbirth!

grávida escrevendo plano de parto
Créditos da imagem: Kernodle Clinic

What is a Birth Plan?

A Birth Plan is a personalized document outlining your choices and preferences for childbirth assistance. In essence, the Birth Plan is a powerful tool to assert a woman’s rights and voice, prepared in advance with informed choices about each procedure. 


If you’ve never heard of this tool, rest assured you’re not alone. In fact, the Birth Plan is a relatively recent achievement for women. Recommended by the World Health Organization since 1986, it’s also endorsed by the National Institutes of Health and the American Pregnancy Association for a better birth experience.

This comprehensive guide will walk you through creating a Birth Plan tailored to your needs.

Who should write a birth plan?

Any woman can write a Birth Plan if she wishes to do so, regardless of the chosen type of delivery—be it vaginal or cesarean, at hospital or at home. Not everyone does it, it’s true, but anyone can do it — and I strongly recommend you to do so.

When should I start my birth plan?

Any time you wish. It doesn’t have to be a one-sitting task. You can work on it throughout pregnancy as you learn and gather information about each stage and procedure involved in a hospital or home birth. The key is to have it ready before labor begins, so you can deliver it to your medical team and discuss it with your doctor.

How do I create a birth plan?

In some countries where the focus on humanizing childbirth is more advanced, there’s a common birth plan model offered to the expectant mother when she enters the maternity ward or health centers, as is the case in Portugal and the Netherlands. In Portugal, this model is a form provided by the hospital, where the woman marks what procedures she authorizes or rejects.


In America, there isn’t an “official model” or standard form, although some states (such as California, New York, and Florida) have specific legislation for birth plan implementation. Therefore, creating a birth plan is quite flexible. You can make a list or simply describe what you authorize or reject in a continuous text.


What really matters is that this document exists on printed paper and that it is delivered to the hospital and birthing team. It’s a written document by the expectant mother informing what procedures she allows or disallows on her body. In other words, it’s a legally valid document that can protect her in cases of less respectful outcomes, unfortunately possible.

What to include in your Birth Plan

Labor Positions

  • List preferred labor positions, such as walking, squatting, or birthing ball usage.
  • Include any specific preferences for movement and mobility during labor.


Pain Relief Options

  • Outline your preferences for pain management methods (whether you prefer to avoid pain relief medication and other anesthetics unless strictly necessary or under specific circumstances).
  • Specify whether you prefer natural pain relief alternatives, such as massage, hydrotherapy, or aromatherapy.



  • Detail your stance on medical interventions, including episiotomy or perineal manipulation;
  • Use of forceps or vacuum extraction;
  • Administration of synthetic oxytocin (Pitocin) or other medications.
  • Preferences for breaking the water (amniotomy).


Plan B: C-section preferences

In case a cesarean birth becomes necessary, outline your preferences:

  • Preferred support person in the operating room.
  • Preferences for immediate skin-to-skin contact.
  • Requests for delayed cord clamping during a cesarean.

Delivery Preferences

Specify preferences for the actual delivery, such as:

  • Who would you like to have with you during delivery.
  • Who should hold the baby first when he/she is born;
  • If you have any requests for ambience, like music or lighting;


Postpartum Care

Outline your preferences for postpartum care, for instance:

  • Immediate skin-to-skin contact (and who should do it);
  • Preferences for breastfeeding initiation (avoid pacifiers and formulas, receive guidance, golden hour, etc.);
  • Rooming-in with the baby.


Newborn Procedures

Specify your preferences for newborn procedures:

  • Eye ointment and vitamin K administration.
  • Circumcision preferences.
  • Delayed bathing and cord clamping.


Emergency Situations

  • Address your preferences in case of unforeseen complications or emergency situations.
  • Outline any life-support or resuscitation preferences for both you and the baby.

Sample Birth Plans

Several reputable and renowned associations and institutions advocating for the humanizitation of childbirth have developed good birth plan templates which are available online. Here is a list of Birth Plans recommended by organizations supporting the humanization of childbirth (click the links below to visit):



A well-crafted Birth Plan ensures a more personalized and respectful childbirth experience. Share this guide with fellow expectant mothers, promoting informed choices and empowered birthing journeys!

Doula Aline Rossi

Aline Rossi is the founder and writer behind Villa Mater. Aline is a Brazilian mother expat in Portugal, feminist, certified birth and postpartum doula, having supported dozens of women in home and hospital births, as well as in the transition to motherhood after childbirth. Devoted admirer of Maria Montessori and Paulo Freire works on education and pedagogy.


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    Villa Mater is an information website based on scientific evidence about pregnancy, motherhood and education, with a strong commitment to the rights of women and children.