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.

Sounds great right? Except it’s not, because nobody cares about your birth plan.

Why nobody cares about your birth plan

It’s sad but true. Nobody really cares. It’s sort of a joke at many labor and delivery nurses stations.

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.”

Some nurses believe that women who write birth plans are trying to control birth. They laugh because they see a correlation between a rigid birth plan and a c-section.

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.

But a birth plan is important

Unfortunately, the laughing and eye rolling is the reason that many women write the rigid birth plan to begin with, because they don’t think they will be taken seriously or have their wishes respected.

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!)

So what’s a natural mama to do?

Luckily, we’ve got your back. Here is a printable VISUAL birth plan just for you. Print it out and bring it to the hospital with you. It’s simple, respectful, and clear; perfect for getting your natural birth wishes across without causing eye rolling.

➜ Click here for a PDF of this birth plan

Print it out, bring it with you on the big day, and you’re all set.

Want to personalize this visual birth plan?

➜ Click here for a customizable visual birth plan (in MS Word format)

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

  • No IV please
  • No membrane sweep
  • Food and drink for mama
  • No students please
  • Pitocin only if necessary
  • Gentle cesarean
  • VBAC
  • Delay eye ointment
  • No formula
  • No circumcision
  • Limited visitors
  • No pacifiers
  • Donating cord blood

Download a customizable version of this visual birth plan

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.

If you’re delivering at a hospital, creating a birth plan is probably a good idea. Standards of care differ from hospital to hospital. Some hospitals will assume you are okay with various labor interventions that run counter to your wishes. In these cases, a birth plan can be very important.

Did you use a birth plan?

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