Birth Plan and Baby Checklist

As the end of your pregnancy approaches, you may find yourself overwhelmed with thinking about all of the options for your labor and delivery. A birth plan is the perfect way to put all of your thoughts down on paper in a shareable way that will make your delivery experience much easier, and will help your medical practitioners know all of your birthing preferences upon your arrival to the hospital.

This 5-part guide provides the following sections:

• Page 1 – Overview – Guide for First Time Parents: Caring for a Newborn Baby
• Page 2: Tips and Advice for First Time Parent
• Page 3: Pregnancy: Signs, Symptoms and Health
• Page 4: Birth Plan and Baby Checklist
• Page 5: Newborn Baby Care

Note: This guide offers tips, information, and resources for first time parents. Please consult your doctor, nurse, or other medical professionals with specific questions.

Chapter 1: Birth Plan Examples and Checklist

A birth plan outlines what you want to do in terms of delivering your baby once you arrive at the hospital. It tells your doctor what is important to you during labor. Though having a plan will allow you to make decisions ahead of time rather than in the moment, unanticipated events can occur during the labor and delivery process and being flexible with your plan is necessary

It’s also recommended to discuss your birth plan with your doctor or midwife ahead of time, since they could have some feedback. It’s possible they may foresee some of your wishes as something that could interfere with a safe delivery of your baby, and could change what you’d like to include in your birth plan.

A. Making a Birth Plan

Besides listing your preferences for labor and delivery, your birth plan should include what’s practical, feasible, and what the hospital or birthing center will accommodate. Some practitioners will even ask a couple to fill out a birth plan, while others are happy to oblige if one is requested.

B. Birth Plan Examples

The following birth plan examples cover preferences that a woman can choose to include or not.

Full Name
Partner’s Name
Today’s Date
Due Date OR Induction Date
Doctor’s Name
Hospital Name

Please consider that I:
● Have group B strep
● Am Rh incompatible with baby
● Have gestational diabetes

My delivery is currently planned as:
● Vaginal
● C-section

I’d like ________ to be present before and/or during labor:
● Partner
● Parents
● Other children
● Doula
● Other

During labor, I’d like ____________ (describe environmental preferences):
● Music provided by me
● Dimmed lights
● As few interruptions as possible
● As few vaginal exams as possible
● Hospital staff that does not include students

I’d like to spend the first stage of labor __________
● Standing up
● Lying down
● Walking around
● In the shower
● In the bathtub

I am not interested in:
● An enema
● A urinary catheter
● An IV, unless I’m dehydrated

I’d like fetal monitoring to be:
● Continuous
● Intermittent
● Internal
● External
● Performed only by the Doppler

I’d like labor augmentation:
● Performed only if a baby is in distress
● First attempted by natural methods such as nipple stimulation
● Performed by membrane stripping
● Performed with prostaglandin gel
● Performed with Pitocin

For pain relief, I’d like to use:
● Acupressure
● Acupuncture
● Breathing techniques
● Cold therapy
● Demerol
● Hot therapy
● Hypnosis
● Massage
● Meditation
● Reflexology
● Epidural
● Nothing

C. Birth Plan Checklist

Some birth plans cover the basics, while others are incredibly detailed. The following four areas should guide your birth plan:
● Requests before birth
● Requests during labor and delivery
● Vaginal vs. C-section birth preferences
● Requests for newborn care

When you’re writing your birth plan, consider this birth plan checklist:

● Requests before birth
- Who would you like to be with you in the room during delivery?
- What do you want to be your situation when it comes to eating and drinking?
- What position do you want to be in? Sitting down, lying down, walking around, etc.?
- Would you like someone to take photos or videos?
- How would you like the environment to be? Dimmed lights, music playing?
- What kind of equipment would you like available to you? Examples are exercise ball, in-room shower, a bathtub
- What specific birthing positions do you prefer?

● Requests during labor and delivery
- What type of birth are you planning on having?
- How do you feel about getting an epidural?
- Preferences for artificial rupturing of membranes?
- Preferences for use of IV or catheter?
- Preferences for the use of interventions to assist in the birth of your child?

● Vaginal Delivery vs. C-Section Preferences
- You can outline here what you prefer in terms of how you deliver, but it is important to keep in mind that medical professionals may suggest you divert from your birth plan in order to have a safe delivery of your baby.

● Requests for Newborn Care
- What are your special requests for suctioning the baby?
- Holding the baby immediately after birth
- Plans for breastfeeding and addressing whether or not you have a lactation specialist
- Having your partner catch the baby and/or cut the cord

D. What to pack in an overnight hospital bag

Just like your birth plan prepares you for your labor journey ahead, so does packing your overnight hospital bag. Your bag should include everything you’ll need during your time at the hospital and also as you depart home for the first time with your newborn.

You should pack your bag once you hit the 36 week mark, just to be prepared. Some hospitals have restrictions when it comes to what you can bring, so be sure to check with your doctor.

Consider the following items when packing your hospital bag:
● Your birth plan
● Dressing gown – this will be comfortable when you are pacing up and down the hospital during labor
● Slip-on slippers that are easy to take on and off
● Socks to keep your feet warm during labor
● Clothing to wear that you do not care if it gets ruined during delivery
● Snacks and drinks for labor, such as isotonic sports drinks
● Things to help you pass the time and to help relax you, such as an iPad or books
● Hairbands or pillows, anything to make you more comfortable

Chapter 2: Signs of Labor

There’s no way to tell when exactly labor will begin. Even when you start to feel early signs of labor, you still may be weeks out from actually delivering your baby.

A. Preparing for Labor

It is difficult, if not impossible, to predict how long you will be in labor. Average labor time for women is eight hours, though it could range from much shorter to significantly longer. Every labor is different, even from having your first child to your second.

After your cervix is dilated 10 centimeters, it still may take another hour or two of pushing afterwards until your baby is born.

It is helpful to understand the early signs of labor to be aware of changes that will start happening to your body as it prepares for the delivery of your baby. Additionally, it can be helpful to be able to decipher the characteristics and symptoms of each stage of labor to know how far along you are throughout the process.

B. Signs of Labor

There are a few possible, different signs that you can look out for that indicate labor is approaching. Here are the common ones:
● The baby is dropping. This is also known as “lightening”, which happens a few weeks before labor starts. You can visibly see your belly drop as the baby now is resting lower in your pelvis as it gets ready for delivery soon. You may feel less pressure where you normally feel it, especially below your ribcage, making it easier for you to catch your breath.
● Braxton Hicks contractions occur. More frequent and intense Braxton Hicks contractions can signal early labor. These contractions set the stage for labor.
● Your cervix starts to change. The connective cervical tissue makes your cervix dilate a centimeter or two before labor starts. Keep in mind that even at 40 weeks pregnant with your first baby and being 1 centimeter dilated, you still may be nowhere close to labor. Your doctor or midwife will do a vaginal exam at your due date during your prenatal visit and be able to confirm if your cervix has started to change.
● You notice “bloody show”, or pass your mucus plug. As you dilate and get closer to labor, you may pass your mucus plug, also known as thickened mucus that has sealed off your cervical canal for the duration of your pregnancy. It may come out all at once or over the course of a few days.

C. Stages of Labor

The first stage of labor is the longest, as it is defined as the time that leads up to when you are dilating 10 centimeters. It includes three phases:
● Early labor – the time of onset labor until you are dilated 3 centimeters, about 8 to 12 hours. During early labor, you should aim to relax. It’s not necessary to rush to the hospital. Drink plenty of water and eat small snacks, and be sure to keep track of the time of your contractions.
● Active labor phase – continues from 3 centimeters until the cervix is dilated 7 centimeters, lasting between 3 to 5 hours. This is when you should think about heading to the hospital or your birth center. Your contractions will be stronger and closer together, and is a good time to start your breathing techniques and to try to relax.
● Transition labor phase – continues from 7 centimeters until the cervix is fully dilated at 10 centimeters, between 30 minutes and 2 hours. You will be relying heavily on your support person, as this is the most challenging phase but the shortest of the stages of labor. Tell your health care provider when you have the urge to push.

Chapter 3: Newborn Baby Checklist

There are a ton of to-dos when prepping for baby’s arrival, especially acquiring all that the newborn needs when it comes to baby essentials.

Setting up the nursery is critical, of course, by gathering the proper, safe equipment for sleeping, eating, and diapering. Where do you start?

To make sure you have a complete nursery ready for your newborn baby, here are the essentials you will need:
● Crib, cradle or bassinet
● Rocking or arm chair
● Baby monitor
● Nightlight
● Dresser
● Toy basket

You will want cozy bedding for your newborn, as sleep will be a precious thing for you and baby both. Washable crib mattress pads, fitted crib sheets, light receiving blankets, and heavier blankets are the must-have bedding items for your newborn baby.

A baby monitor is always one of the hottest items on an expecting mom’s registry, as it allows a new mother to keep tabs on how the baby is doing, and when they wake up while they’re asleep.

A. Newborn Baby Essentials

In a diaper bag, you typically will find the following:
● Diaper cream
● Diapers
● Unscented baby wipes
● Soft washcloths
● A first aid baby kit
● Petroleum jelly for diaper rash
● A second pair of clothes, just in case

B. Baby Clothes

Picking out practical items that will keep the baby comfortable is essential when it comes to buying baby clothes. These are the baby must-have clothing items:
● Onesies with wide head openings and lose legs for comfort
● Undershirts that snap at the neck and under the crotch
● One-piece pajamas
● Blanket sleepers for the winter
● Sweaters or jackets
● Rompers or dress-up outfits
● Socks/booties (shoes are unnecessary until the baby is walking)
● Hats for summer protection

C. Newborn Bathing

Bath time can be fun for both parents and baby with the right gear, such as:
● Soap
● Shampoo
● A baby bathtub
● Soft towels or hooded baby towels
● Hairbrush
● Soft washcloths
● Gentle laundry detergent

All in all, preparing for labor and delivery as well as coming home with your newborn will take a lot of the worry of becoming a new parent away.

Sources and Additional Readings: is one of the world’s best resources for all things pregnancy and newborn. They also power and is ran by The American Pregnancy Association with the aim to promote healthy and informed pregnancy:

Launched in 1999, New Parent is the largest circulated magazine reaching the expectant mom market in the U.S.

Building on the bestselling What to Expect book series by Heidi Murkoff, What to Expect Digital reaches over 15 million parents and parents-to-be each month.

Continue Reading

• Page 1 – Overview – Guide for First Time Parents: Caring for a Newborn Baby
• Page 2: Tips and Advice for First Time Parent
• Page 3: Pregnancy: Signs, Symptoms and Health
• Page 4: Birth Plan and Baby Checklist
• Page 5: Newborn Baby Care