Developing Your Birth Plan

Guest writer, Anya Dimaculangan RN, BScN shares her advice on developing your birth plan. Anya is a Registered Nurse, lactation counsellor and mom of two. Instagram @anyathemamacoach

Your Birth Plan, or as I like to call it – your Birth Wish List should be personal and specific to you! It can feel intimidating trying to formulate a plan or figuring out even where to start! I’m here to help break it down for you. Births vary greatly, even with the same person, your first labour may differ from your following births. That is why it is beneficial to write down everything you would like to happen but also understand things may not go exactly according to plan.

The KEY to a positive labour experience is making your own choices and advocating for those throughout the process. That’s why it is important to know what you want for your birth experience. All the who, what, when, where, why and how MATTERS! The following are some questions you need to ask yourself.


Who would you like to be present at your birth?
Your partner, your mother, a birth doula? Maybe your best friend. When you are choosing your partners for birth, remember to choose someone who will be encouraging and help you feel as relaxed as possible. A birth doula is a great addition to your care team and I highly recommend finding one that you feel a connection with.


What kind of environment would you like to labour in?
Be specific. You can choose dim lighting, twinkling lights, hanging birth affirmations, aromatherapy, a birth pool, a shower, music, Hypnobirthing tracks, wearing your own clothes, limiting staff, minimal cervical exams and more. This is YOUR birth. It may take more effort to create the calming atmosphere that you need for a hospital, but you can totally make it happen! Pack that diffuser, those twinkling lights, and speaker for your favourite soundtrack.

What clothes do you want to be wearing while you give birth?
It is not mandatory to wear the hospital gown if you are giving birth in the hospital. You can wear your own clothes! Choose something you are comfortable in that is easy for your baby to make their grand entrance.

What food or drinks are you going to bring?
You can keep eating and drinking during labour to fuel your body as labour is a huge physical activity that requires energy. Keep sipping on water throughout. Don’t forget to bring that tall straw cup of yours! You can also pack popsicles and store them in the freezer. That is one of my favourite snacks for labour.

If you are looking for an awesome hospital bag to pack all of your belongings in, check out the brand new Bravado hospital bag. It has a huge main compartment to pack all your birth and newborn essentials.

What type of pain relief would you like to use?
Natural pain relief options include: massage, movement, different positions, applied pressure, deep breathing, aromatherapy, bath or shower, and holding a comb in your hand to target specific pressure points. You can try all of these options, or you may find a couple of them work best for you. Do not underestimate the power of breathing!

When it comes to medical pain relief, be sure to consult with your health care provider on pain management options and what is best suited for you.


Are you planning to wait for spontaneous labour?
Do you have a planned caesarean section? No matter which delivery method you choose, it is important to know your options. Induction is a topic often brought up by care providers around the 39 week appointment. Induction is completely optional; you have the right to refuse. It is important to understand all the risks that are associated with it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Remember that your baby’s due date is an approximation, and the actual date of delivery may vary greatly. Trust your body and your baby to know the right time for when they are ready to make their entrance into the world!


Where would you like to deliver your baby?
At hospital, in a birth centre or at home. If you are receiving care from an OBGYN, you will most likely be giving birth in a hospital. If you are under the care of a midwife, you may have the option of birth centre, hospital, or home. The most important thing is that you feel SAFE, COMFORTABLE and SUPPORTED. If you are able to get a tour of the hospital and birth centre ahead of time, that would be ideal so that it wouldn’t be your first time seeing it when you’re in labour. Remember that you can request for immediate skin-to-skin with your baby even if your delivery becomes a c-section!


Why does creating a birth plan matter?
A birth plan helps with the following:

  • Clear Communication and Personalized Care: allows you to communicate your preferences and desires regarding labour, delivery, and postpartum care with your healthcare provider. This ensures that everyone involved in the birthing process is on the same page and understands your wishes.
  • Empowerment: Empowers you to become actively involved in your birthing experience. It encourages you to research your options, consider various scenarios, and make informed decisions about your care.
  • Reduced Anxiety: It provides a sense of control and helps alleviate anxiety by allowing you to outline your preferences and expectations.
  • Decision-making Guide and Advocacy Tool: Unexpected situations may arise that require quick decisions. A birth plan can serve as a guide for healthcare providers and parents to make informed decisions in real-time, based on the preferences outlined in the plan and ensure your wishes are respected and followed.


How would you like your baby to come into this world?
Things you can add to your birth wish list are:

  • Waiting until you have the urge to push before you start pushing instead of pushing at 10 cm dilation.
  • Pushing and labouring in whichever position you feel comfortable in - whether that is on your hands and knees or squatting or leaning on the wall.
  • Delayed cord clamping - increases hemoglobin levels at birth and improves iron stores in the first several months of life.
  • Immediate skin-to-skin - promotes breastfeeding, helps baby regulate their temperature, reduces bleeding, lowers maternal stress levels (*source: Widström et al, 2019).
  • Delayed weight checks until after skin to skin.
  • Asking your birth partner to announce the gender instead of your care provider.
  • Asking your birth partner to cut the cord.
  • If you choose to breastfeed, make this known to your delivery team and start nursing as soon as possible after birth, ideally within the first hour.

Creating a Feeding Plan within your Birth Plan is a fantastic idea! Breastfeeding may be natural, but it is not easy. It is a brand new skill that you and your baby are learning. To get your breastfeeding journey off to its best start, include in your plan that you want to breastfeed as soon as possible after your baby is born. Ensuring your baby latches and feeds during that “golden” hour, will dramatically improve your breastfeeding success in the long run. If you are planning to breastfeed, inform the nurses so that they are aware not to give your baby any formula. Some hospitals will have a lactation consultant on staff that you can request for assistance during your stay. If you plan to feed your baby infant formula, you can indicate that in your birth plan so that the nursing staff are aware of your preference.

I hope that these tips will help you with developing your own birth plan! Birth can be an incredible and beautiful experience.

I am wishing you all the best! You got this!

*source: Widström, A. M., Brimdyr, K., Svensson, K., Cadwell, K., & Nissen, E. (2019). Skin-to-skin contact the first hour after birth, underlying implications and clinical practice. Acta paediatrica (Oslo, Norway : 1992), 108(7), 1192–1204.