It would be lovely to know exactly how your labour’s going to go, but until we can predict the future, writing a birth plan is the next best thing. Read on to find out more.
What is a birth plan?
It does what it says on the tin – it’s the plan of how you’d like to give birth, which is used by those helping you, such as maternity unit staff, midwives or your birthing partner… But it’s worth bearing in mind that even the best-laid plans can change – your baby could arrive earlier than expected or you might decide on a different type of pain relief.
Where can you get a birth plan?
When you go for your first antenatal appointment, you’ll probably be given a book of notes that contains forms and information about your pregnancy. At each check-up, scan or appointment, the notes are updated.
Your notes may include a basic birth plan, which you can add to later after chatting about options with your midwife or going to your antenatal classes. However, you can make your own birth plan from scratch and chat about it with your midwife.
Keep a copy of your plan in your hospital notes book, which you’ll need to have with you when you give birth. It’s also a good idea to give a copy to your midwife and have a spare copy at home.
What to include in your birth plan
It can be as long or as short as you want, although if your birth plan is as clear and concise as possible, this will help anyone with you during labour. Here are a few things you might want to think about and include on your plan:
- Where do you intend to have your baby (e.g. at home or in hospital)?
- Who are you planning to have as a birth partner(s)?
- Is there a particular midwife you’d like to be there if she/he is available?
- What kind of pain relief are you planning to use?
- Are there any other things you’d like to use, such as massage or relaxation techniques, a birth ball or TENS machine?
- If available at your hospital would you like to use a bath or pool to help with pain relief during the first stage of labour?
- What positions would you like to use during labour (remain upright and mobile for as long as possible, prefer to be on a bed, etc)?
- How do you want your baby’s heart to be monitored during labour (hand-held device or an electronic belt strapped around your waist – ask your midwife for more information about these options)?
- Do you have particular feelings about assisted delivery, for example about the use of forceps or ventouse?
- Do you have any special wishes for the first moments after your baby is born?
- Are you planning to breastfeed or use formula?
As you progress through pregnancy, other ideas are bound to come to you. Make notes when you think of them and chat them through with your midwife and birth partner before adding them to your final birth plan.