A birth plan, sometimes referred to as birthing plan, is a blueprint of what choices you and your partner have made for the arrival of your child. It also helps your birth attendants support you during your labor and delivery in the best possible way. But where to even start? We want to make the task as easy and stress-free as possible, so we’ve created a great visual birth plan template for you to follow.

visual birth plan template by Mama Natural

Build your own visual birth plan, FREE!

Share your name and email and we’ll send you our easy-to-customize birth plan template right now.

  • It’s simple, visual, and pretty.
  • Totally customizable.
  • A plan people will actually read!

The Only Birth Plan Template You Need

A birth plan is a very important step to having the natural birth you want. A birth plan is about putting down your preferences, in black and white, before labor begins so that you are prepared for whatever events may arise and can make informed choices about your and baby’s care and safety. It also enables your birth team to access those choices without disrupting you during labor. (Be sure you’ve discussed your desires in detail with your birth team, so that there are no surprises in labor!)

“I just went to the hospital to put this in my chart, and my midwife absolutely loves it— she said it’s the best and clearest way to keep everyone on the same page. I can’t say thank you enough!”

How to Personalize This Visual Birth Plan Template

When you click on the link to download your free customizable birth plan template, you’ll get two choices: download an editable template via a zip file or download a PDF (not editable). To create the most personalized birth plan, we recommended downloading the zip file.

To edit the file, you’ll need access to Microsoft Word (Pages on Macs works, too) on a laptop or desktop computer.

Once you’ve downloaded the file, open it with your word processor. You’ll see on the second page of the document there are over a dozen additional icons to choose from. Just click and drag those icons to the first page and arrange them however you like.

Simply delete any icons that don’t apply to you. Once you’ve deleted the icons that do not apply to your birth plan, you’ll be left with the perfect visual plan—something nice, clean, and concise for nurses and doctors to refer to during your labor and delivery.

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What Icons Are Included in This Visual Birth Plan Template?

This customizable birth plan template includes visual birth plan icons for:

During labor

  • No medication: Use this icon if you don’t want pain medication or any kind of antibiotics for conditions like group B strep.
  • Free movement: Studies show that women who are allowed to move freely during labor have shorter, less painful labors.
  • Natural water rupture: Prematurely rupturing the bag of waters does not guarantee labor and can also lead to increased pain, more intense contractions, and increased risk of infection.
  • Intermittent monitoring: Continuous monitoring can affect mama’s ability to relax and focus on labor, plus there’s evidence that constant fetal monitoring is not good for baby.
  • Lights dim: A dim room can help mama feel more relaxed and less exposed during childbirth.
  • Water birth: Studies show that women who have water births have shorter labors—by 90 minutes!—and are significantly less likely to have an epidural or any other type of anesthesia or opiod pain relief.
  • No episiotomy: Recovery from an episiotomy is longer and more painful than a natural tear. What’s more? A study by the University of Michigan found that women who had episiotomies reported decreased sexual satisfaction and a poor body image following the procedure.
  • Limited cervical exams: Cervical exams can be uncomfortable and painful. Furthermore, studies don’t suggest frequent cervical exams during labor have any benefit.
  • No membrane sweep: In one study, 70 percent of women said membrane stripping was painful. Plus, it can lead to prolonged labors and more interventions.
  • Food and drink for mama: Many hospitals don’t allow mama to eat or drink once labor has begun, but adequate nutrition is important for mama to maintain strength and stamina during labor.
  • No students please: This is particularly important if you’re giving birth at a teaching hospital. In these cases, you may have students performing medical procedures or groups of students present in the room to observe your baby’s birth.
  • Pitocin only if necessary: If pitocin isn’t medically necessary, it’s usage can lead to a host of other interventions, including C-section. It can also have adverse side effects, like greater risk of hemorrhaging.
  • Gentle cesareanThe purpose of a gentle cesarean is to invoke a peaceful, calm atmosphere that closely mimics what happens during and immediately after a natural childbirth.
  • VBAC: ACOG recommends that repeat cesareans be limited, and encourages women to a try for labor after cesarean–even after two previous C-sections.
  • No IV: An IV greatly limits mama’s ability to move freely during labor.
  • Nitrous oxide: Nitrous oxide is a relatively safe way to help women cope with pain during labor and can be used during all stages of labor. (source)
  • No forceps/vacuum extraction: Studies suggest new mothers experience more trauma and complications following these interventions. It can also cause bruising, bleeding, and even skull fractures in babies. (source)
  • Lotus birth: Lotus birth, aka umbilical non-severance, is when you leave the baby attached to the placenta until the cord naturally dries and disconnects from the belly button, generally about three days later. Medical benefits are highly debated, but for many, lotus birth is a mostly spiritual practice that honors the birthing process.

After delivery

  • Immediate skin-to-skin: Skin-to-skin, or kangaroo care, has so many benefits, not limited to improved breastfeeding, improved fetal health, improved mental health for mama, and improved bonding.
  • Delayed cord clamping: This allows billions of red blood cells, stem cells, white blood cells and other necessary substances to pass from the cord to the newborn.
  • Save placenta: Some mamas want to save their placenta so they can eat it.
  • Partner to cut cord: This is a great way to give your partner an active role in labor and delivery.
  • Breastfeeding ASAP: Immediate breastfeeding will help jumpstart your supply and improve the bond between baby and mama.
  • No vitamin K: Some mamas choose to skip this newborn procedure, because the synthetic vitamin K shot is a class C drug—this means it is unknown whether it is safe during pregnancy. It also contains 5,000 times the recommended daily allowance.
  • Oral vitamin K: In place of the vitamin K shot, some parents prefer their child receives an oral dose of vitamin K, because infants get this in three much smaller doses.
  • No circumcision: In 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics concluded that baby circumcision is not recommended as a routine procedure. The American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians agree.
  • No eye ointment/delay eye ointment: Some mamas skip this, because the use of antibiotics can harm a baby’s gut health, leading to increased risk of illness later. Eye ointment can also cause blurred vision, which may interfere with bonding and establishing breastfeeding.
  • No bath for baby: Bathing washes away all that protective vernix and good bacteria from vaginal delivery.
  • Delay exams for bonding: Hospital exams can be frequent and invasive, disrupting important bonding activities, like breastfeeding and skin-to-skin time.
  • No formula: Moms who wish to breastfeed should include this on their birth plan for obvious reasons, not limited to nipple confusion.
  • No hepatitis B: Unless the mother is infected, it is very rare for a newborn to contract hepatitis B.
  • Limited visitors: A constant stream of visitors can disrupt important bonding activities, like breastfeeding and skin-to-skin time.
  • No pacifiers: Pacifiers can lead to nipple confusion, which can complicate breastfeeding.
  • Donating cord blood: Some parents choose to bank or donate the cord blood, since it’s considered to have very important health benefits. (It can be used to treat more than 70 diseases!)

Build your own visual birth plan, FREE!

Share your name and email and we’ll send you our easy-to-customize birth plan template right now.

  • It’s simple, visual, and pretty.
  • Totally customizable.
  • A plan people will actually read!

New icons for 2023

Based on feedback from mamas just like you, we added a handful of new icons to our editable visual birth plan template, including these.

Mama Natural birth plan template – new icons

Plus, we’ve added a new section of icons to help guide a Gentle Cesarean.

Mama Natural visual birth plan template – new gentle cesarean icons

FAQ: Is there a difference between the red and blue icons?

Blue icons skew positive—they represent things that you want your birthing team to do. I.e. Do allow for free movement during labor or do proceed with delayed cord clamping.

Red icons, on the other hand, skew negative—they represent things you do not want your birthing team to do. I.e. Do not do an episiotomy or do not bathe baby after birth.

Do I Really Need a Birth Plan?

If you choose your birth space and attendants with care, you may not need to write down many of the things found in most birth plans.

For example, a good midwife won’t routinely break your water, do unnecessary vaginal exams, or insist on continuous fetal monitoring. Furthermore, you may discover that many of your choices, like doulas in the birthing room or no mention of epidurals, are standard care with your chosen attendants.

But if you’re delivering at a hospital and want to have a natural childbirth, creating a birth plan is probably a good idea. It really depends on what hospital you are delivering at, because standards of care differ from hospital to hospital. Some hospitals have policies that are more compatible with natural childbirth. Other hospitals will assume you are okay with various labor interventions that run counter to your wishes. If the latter is the case, a birth plan can be very important tool for you.

Birth plans can also be a good way for mamas-to-be to exercise their right to respectful, high-quality care. For women of color, this Black Birthing Bill of Rights might empower you as you work on your birthing plan.

Will Anyone Care About My Birth Plan?

It’s sad, but I’ve heard many stories of nurses laughing at birth plans or the women who write them; sometimes referring to these laboring moms as “high maintenance.”

Nurses especially hate birth plans that are perceived to be:

  • Overly detailed
  • Condescending or rude
  • Demanding, especially if without regard to extenuating circumstances and safety

To those nurses, women who write birth plans are inflexible, don’t understand the unpredictable nature of birth, and want a natural birth even if it costs her or her baby their safety or health. They believe that a birth plan just sets moms up for disappointment.

Mama Natural Week By Week Guide to Pregnancy book natural childbirth plan

So What’s a Natural Mama to Do?

Three words: Keep it simple. With a straightforward, to-the-point birth plan template, healthcare providers are more likely to understand your preferences and take them seriously. This is a win-win for everyone, since a clear visual birth plan will also help you feel more comfortable in their hands.

Build your own visual birth plan, FREE!

Share your name and email and we’ll send you our easy-to-customize birth plan template right now.

  • It’s simple, visual, and pretty.
  • Totally customizable.
  • A plan people will actually read!

Did You Use a Birth Plan?

Did it help you? Do you feel like the hospital or birthing center staff paid attention to your birth plan? Share your experience with us in the comments below!