What is a birth plan?
A birth plan is a written plan that includes what you would like to happen during your labour. You have choices about what you'd like to include in your birth plan. It can help you feel supported, and can help you and your birth partner prepare for the birth. A birth plan can also help your health team know how to support you, so that you feel included in the decisions around your baby's birth.
Your birth plan may change over the course of your pregnancy. It is fine to change your mind about what you would like to happen when you are having your baby. Even when you are in labour and your baby is close to being born, you have a right to change the plan.
Do I need to have a birth plan?
Not everyone needs a birth plan. It's up to you if you want to write one. Speak with your healthcare provider about what is important to you and what type of birth you would like. You can choose to write it down as a birth plan, or just discuss it if you prefer.
When should I think about making a birth plan?
There is no specific time to make a birth plan. As long as you have enough time to think about it and discuss it with relevant people (your partner, doctor or midwife, for example) before labour begins. You may have cultural practices or preferences, and it's a good idea to include these in your birth plan.
How should I get started making a birth plan?
Start by thinking about what is important to you — note the things you'd like to happen and any things you'd like to avoid. If you're not sure, ask your friends or family members who have babies. You may find it helpful to sign up for labour and birth classes — if you have a partner, ask them if they'd like to join you. You can join birthing classes such as Lamaze, or find a technique that suits you such as hypnobirthing.
Aim to make a simple and clear birth plan which highlights what is important to you. You might prefer to use an app or keep a digital copy, which would be easy to share with others. Keep a spare copy and ask your healthcare provider to include this in your notes.
What should I include in my birth plan?
Think about your preferences and what is important to you. Remember that your labour and birth may not proceed as you would like. There needs to be room for flexibility in case things happen that you didn't plan for. Sometimes medical interventions are needed for your wellbeing or your baby's health.
Making a birth plan
Here are some ideas on what to include in your birth plan:
- Who are the key people in your support network?
- Are there any cultural factors you want to list?
- Do you want to stay active during labour?
- Where would you like to give birth – a hospital, birthing centre or at home?
- What positions do you prefer for labour and birth?
- Would you like your health team to offer you pain relief early, and do you prefer a specific type of pain relief?
- Would you prefer medical intervention over labouring for too long?
You can also include your ideas for what will happen after your baby is born:
- Do you prefer skin-to-skin ('kangaroo') care?
- Do you plan to breastfeed your baby?
- Who will support you when you go home with your baby?
Resources and Support
Read more on birth plans in the NSW Health Having a baby book.
The Royal Women's Hospital can give you helpful information on making a birth plan.
Speak to a maternal child health nurse
Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.
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Last reviewed: August 2023