Birth Plans vs. Birth Preferencs...

          One of the mothers that I had the absolute honor to serve this year, had a birth plan that looked similar to this... icons only! So creative and such a great idea!!

What's the difference between a Birth Plan and Birth Preference, just semantics?

     In my training and experience as a childbirth educator, doula, and a parent myself... I've come to understand that when situations unexpectedly deviate from what we've planned, we can grieve this loss; just as we would a loved one.

     Labor and birth, like life, can be unpredictable... it's best to educate yourself, prepare, and then know that there's only so much you can control. The entire family will benefit from having realistic expectations and preparing yourself mentally and emotionally for the slight possibility that you and/or baby may need more medical intervention that you had originally wished for.

     A Birth Plan suggests one plan, with the general understanding " long as mother and baby are well."

     Birth Preferences more clearly verbalize, and prepare you for the slight possibility of complications and what your wishes are for even those situations.

     Thankfully, we have five amazing hospitals that provide maternity services... should intervention be necessary being prepared physically, mentally, emotionally, and having the best support team in place will ensure the best birthing experience!

     I highly encourage all families to put together their Birth Preferences, it may be only five items, and it will still communicate to hospital staff exactly what you are wanting on this special day!

     Below is merely a very detailed example, I am not in any way suggesting or trying to influence your choices...because they are just that... your choices! As your doula I will never influence your choices, what you want is what I want! You can click the link to copy/paste and then edit to your liking! My doula and childbirth clients will be given assistance in creating their birth preferences, once finalized I like to have a copy at 36 weeks!


Birth Preferences for Baby Smith - Birth Preferences for Baby Smith, EDD 06/30/16 Dr. Foley, Queen’s Medical Center

Google Documents Version

Parents:  Suzanne & Sam Smith                                                                                                                                                                   Doula:  Lea Garner

    It is our desire to have a natural, medication and intervention-free childbirth./I would like to have the IV medication and/or epidural as soon as it is appropriate and will not slow down labor.  We have educated ourselves, are healthy and low risk, and are prepared for the work involved. We will of course be flexible on all points if a complication does arise.  Although we feel confident that everything will go normally, we trust that you will inform us if any problems come up so that we can discuss the choices to be made and choose our new plan of action.  If there is a nurse available who enjoys working with couples who have prepared for a natural birth, we would appreciate if he/she could be assigned to us.


  • Do not offer Pain Meds: We understand my pain relief options and will request if and when needed/I would like the IV pain medication and please let us know when it is appropriate to have the epidural without slowing the laboring process

  • Ample time to labor naturally

  • Please discuss with father before any medical intervention

  • If IV is deemed necessary please use saline lock/hep lock

  • Intermittent fetal monitoring; no continuous fetal monitoring if possible

  • No vaginal exams unless necessary; if necessary would appreciate exams to be done minimally, by the same person and only upon consent

  • No interns or unnecessary personal in room


  • Choice of position for pushing

  • No breaking of water unless necessary and only upon consent

  • Protection of the perineum through massage, warm compress, counter pressure and positioning

  • I would rather risk a tear than have an episiotomy

  • If delivery assistance is needed, please use vacuum instead of forceps and only upon consent/please use forceps instead of the vacuum and only upon consent

  • Please place baby on mother’s abdomen immediately after birth for skin to skin contact


  • Delay cord clamping until after pulsing stops completely/We would like to donate/store our baby’s cord blood

  • Breastfeed immediately to help birth placenta – advise if pitocin is absolutely necessary; if necessary, please administer after the baby is out and cord is clamped

  • I will be formula feeding

  • Please delay all other medical testing/medication to allow for maximum bonding time

  • I will be having my placenta encapsulated (Once cleared, please give placenta to Father) I have had the required Hep C test results available


  • We do/do not want our baby to be given the Vitamin K, Hep B, and Erythromycin eye medication

  • Baby to stay with parents at all time

  • Breastfeeding only: no bottles, pacifiers, artificial nipples or formula/We will be exclusively formula feeding, please mark our charts accordingly

  • We will/will not be circumcising our baby

These are our preferences in the case of an uncomplicated labor.  If a complication (medical emergency) does arise, we will do whatever is necessary to keep Mom and baby safe.  



  • Father will stay with baby if we are not able to stay together

  • We would like to avoid a C-section if at all possible

  • Allow for skin to skin contact with baby as soon as possible either with Mom or Dad

  • We wish to delay the baby's bath until we are reunited as a family

  • If our physician, anesthesiologist are agreeable we would like our doula to join us in the OR to take photos

We thank you in advance for your support and kind attention to our choices! -Smith Ohana

JTD 12/15