Birth Plans: Labor Preferences for Delivering Your Baby

Deciding the details for delivering your baby

Mother to be at park holding pregnant belly.

Deciding the details for delivering your baby

The birth of your baby is a special and unique experience, and a memory that you will always cherish.

You may have a clear idea of how you want your child’s delivery: who you want in the room, what kinds of pain relief you expect and where you want the baby placed immediately after birth. But once labor begins, these decisions could change. That’s why it’s a good idea to compile a birth plan.

Creating your birth plan

A birth plan is just a written statement that describes your personal preferences. It doesn’t have to be long or complicated, but creating one helps ensure your wishes are honored and that no important details are forgotten. It is given to the nurses and your physician when you arrive at the hospital to help the clinical staff understand your wants and needs during your delivery.

Dale Mitchell, MD, an OB-GYN at Scripps Clinic La Jolla, encourages expectant parents to take time, do some research and jot down ideas. Your birth plan may include:

  • Who you want to be present during the delivery
  • If you want soft or natural lighting, and if you will bring a “focal point”
  • Whether you want a quiet room or will provide your own music
  • If you want to walk, move around, or use a birthing ball or pillows
  • Your preferences for relaxation and comfort, such as warm/cool packs, visualization or breathing patterns
  • Suggestions for helpful things you’d like to hear during labor
  • If you would like pain relief such as an epidural or are planning to use natural pain relief such as massage and acupressure
  • If you plan on having the birth photographed or video recorded
  • Your preferences on episiotomies
  • If you want to bank or donate your baby’s cord blood
  • If you want to breastfeed your baby or use formula
  • If you want “delayed” cord clamping
  • If you want your newborn to have newborn eye ointment or vitamin K at birth

“Scripps is committed to providing our patients the best possible childbirth experience with respect to their wishes and preferences, while also maintaining a strong commitment to quality and safety,” says Dr. Mitchell.

Check with your hospital

“Make sure your birth plan is safe and can be accommodated by the hospital where you will deliver your baby,” says Dr. Mitchell.

“Talk to your doctor about the options you would like and whether he or she has suggestions or recommendations. Discuss what will happen if your birth plan needs to be adjusted during delivery.”

You may also want to attend a hospital tour to become familiar with the labor and delivery process and how it fits with your birth plan. Scripps offers a variety of hospital tours at each of our maternity care locations.

Sample birth plan template

You may decide to print out and complete your labor preferences work sheet (PDF, 290 KB).

My Labor Preferences Worksheet

Name: _______________________________Due Date: __________

Obstetrician/Midwife: ___________________________________________________

Primary Support Person: _________________________________________________

My preferences during labor (assuming baby’s heart tracing is reassuring):


  • Soft lighting
  • Natural lighting
  • Quiet room
  • Music (I will bring)
  • Focal point (I will bring)


  • Move around/change position
  • Use pillows
  • Use birthing ball
  • Sit on toilet/pelvic rocking
  • Walk in hallways
  • Other _______________


  • Take a shower
  • Use visualization
  • Continuous labor support
  • Heat/cold application
  • Breathing patterns
  • Other_______________

Some helpful things to say to me: _________________________________________

Some helpful things to do for me: _________________________________________

Pain Management During Labor and Birth

  • No medication
  • Epidural
  • Other_______________________

Second Stage and Birth

  • Partner to cut cord
  • Cord blood collection
  • Other_________________

After Baby’s Birth

  • I plan to breastfeed
  • I plan to bottle-feed
  • I do plan to have my son circumcised
  • I do not plan to have my son circumcised

Pediatrician: _________________________________________________________________

Additional Request or Concerns: _________________________________________________

Patient Signature: _____________________________________________________________

Reviewed by: ________________________________________________________________

Thank you

Thank you for sharing your birth preferences with us. We are looking forward to caring for you and your baby.

The cover of the June 2019 issue of San Diego Health Magazine.

This content appeared in San Diego Health, a publication in partnership between Scripps and San Diego Magazine that celebrates the healthy spirit of San Diego.

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