What should I put in my birth plan?
A birth plan is an outline of how you would like things to go during your baby's birth, including your preferences on pain relief, positions in labour, and your thoughts on interventions, such as the use of forceps or ventouse.
But do remember, the plan it is not set in stone, and you can change your mind about anything - at any time - before or during labour.
At a glance
- A birth plan is a useful guide for the midwives assisting you with your birth
- It outlines how you would like things to pan out during your baby's birth
- You can always change your mind when you are in labour
A birth plan is a useful guide for the midwives helping you with your birth, and also for your birth partner, as they will probably be the person speaking to the midwives and doctors on your behalf, and keeping you focussed as your baby is born.
Before writing your birth plan
Before you write your plan, talk to your friends who have recently had babies, and ask what they had in theirs, and what they might have worded or planned for differently.
You could also join a local antenatal class and chat to other mums who’ve made a birth plan and been through it before.
Doing your research on the various types of pain relief and facilities offered by your hospital is also really important (there's no point in writing that you want a water birth if the hospital you will be using has no tub or birth pool on offer!).
What should you include in your birth plan
Once you’ve done some research for your birth plan you should start to list down your preferences. If you like, you can do this on a bit of paper but it would be better to fill in the birth plan section on your pregnancy notes. You’ll want to include your preferences for the following:
Positions for labour and birth
You might have a preference for certain positions that you’d like to be in during the various stages of labour. This will help to ensure you’re as relaxed and comfortable as you can be, but you may find that other positions work better for you on the day, it’s best to just go with whatever works for you at the time.
Let them know what kind of pain relief you would like to use and in what order. Aside from medicated pain relief, you might also want to write down any natural pain relief methods you’d like to try such as breathing techniques and massage.
Location of birth
Are you happy with a hospital birth or are you looking to have a home birth? If you want a home birth you’ll need to check that your midwife is happy to attend. You’ll also want to make notes for if things don’t go as planned and if you’d require any particular pain relief at home.
Say who you’d like to be with you during labour and birth. Write down if you want this person to be with you for the whole birth, or if you’d prefer for them to only be there during certain stages. It’s also worth considering if you’d like your birth partner to stay with you if you require an assisted birth or a C-section.
You might also want to make it clear on your plan if you want to be told the sex of your baby once it’s delivered, or whether you’d prefer to find out for yourself. You could also mention on there if you want your partner or the midwife to cut the cord, and if you want a managed or physiological third stage (drugs to make your placenta expel quickly, or for it to come out in its own time).
What happens once you’ve written your birth plan?
Once you’re happy with your birth plan you’ll want to show it to your midwife. They will go through your plan and answer any questions you might have and make sure they’re able to provide everything you need during your labour and birth. It’s important to remember that although you’ve written a birth plan, things don’t always go to plan or you may change your mind about things during labour. Any suggestions to change the plan will have you and the baby’s interests at heart and you’re always entitled to change your mind.