Your birth plan is a rough guide that helps provide an overview of what you would prefer to happen during your birth. Birthing is unpredictable, so it’s a good idea to include details of what you want to happen if circumstances change.
You should limit the length of your birth plan to one side of an A4 paper if you can and write bullet points. Lengthy plans risk key points being missed as your birth may be the first time you meet your midwife and, she gets to read your birth plan.
Below are 10 areas to address when writing your birth plan:
- Acknowledgement: Many women start their birth plan with a sentence thanking (in advance) the person looking after them during their birth.
- Names: Include your name in the title (e.g. Sophie's Birth Plan). Mention who will be supporting you during birth? What roles do you want them to play?
- Where: Hospital or Home? If you're having a hospital birth then you'll need to decide between the labour ward or birthing centre?
- Communication: The importance of informed consent and clear communication. This could be listening to your concerns and ensuring plans will be made together. Staff stating their name and role clearly. Do you want Midwives/Doctors to discuss concerns or options directly with you, or are you happy for your partner to do this? If you are unable to are you happy for your partner to make decisions or speak for you?
- Atmosphere: Creating the right atmosphere is important. Consider the number of people in your birthing room. Would you like people to knock before entering? Are you happy for students midwives/nurses/doctors to be present? Would you like dim lighting? Minimal noise? Relaxing Music? Or Hypnobirthing?
- Pain relief: Consider whether you want pain relief such as an epidural or gas & air. Do you want an epidural as soon as possible or later on? Is there anything you do not want under any circumstances, such as waters breaking? Would you prefer to request pain relief if you need it and not offered by staff?
- Third stage: Consider delivery of your placenta, naturally or actively? Would you like to see your placenta or keep it?
- Skin to Skin: Consider whether you would like to be told the sex of your baby or find out yourselves. Do you want your baby delivered straight to your chest for skin to skin before routine checks? Does your partner want skin to skin with baby?
- Cord clamping: Who your partner like to clamp the cord? Do you want delayed cord clamping?
- Vit K: Consider whether you want Vit K given to your baby? Would you feel different if circumstances change? Injection or orally?
It is also important to remember things do not always go to plan, and you should consider what you would want to happen if circumstances do change.
If you need to go to theatre or have a C-section:
1) Who would you like with you?
2) Would you like the Obstetrician to facilitate delayed cord clamping?
3) If all is well, would you like the basic baby checks to wait and instead see your baby immediately?