Are you trying to write a birth plan that covers every detail of your labour? I found it really hard to know where to start and what I really needed to include. This guide will help you to write a quick and easy birth plan including how you want to manage your labour and what you would like to do if certain complications happen.
What is a birth plan?
It is a plan of how you would like your labour and delivery to go. It contains important information about you and your birth partner. You can also include any wishes or preferences you may have for the birth for yourself and your baby.
A birth plan is optional. You can include as much detail as you need. With my first pregnancy, I made sure that I attended the birthing classes, spoke to the midwife, read all the books and leaflets. Then I wrote a detailed birth plan focusing on having a water birth. When labour started, the baby needed monitoring so I couldn’t have a water birth. I was really disappointed that I couldn’t follow my birth plan.
When I was preparing for my second labour I decided to write a quick and easy birth plan. I wanted to keep it flexible and to focus on ways I could be positive, in control and manage my own pain in different situations. Then I would be better prepared for my labour experience.
When should I write my birth plan?
You need to have thought about what is important to you before you start writing your birth plan. Find out what is available for supporting you and helping you to manage your pain. Also, attend parenting classes, hypnobirthing classes, speak to your midwife and talk to your birth partner or family and friends.
When you have an idea of your wishes jot them down, I did this towards the end of my third trimester. Remember you can change your mind at any time before or during labour.
How do I start writing my birth plan?
Remember to focus on you. I had so many people telling me the best things to do during labour and they were all very definite that this was the best type of labour experience. I have learned that although labour may turn out completely different from how you imagined it, it will still be the most incredible experience of your life.
Focus on the main points but give a reason if something is really important to you. This will help the midwife to better understand you and can mean you don’t have to spend time explaining it during labour.
How should I set out my quick and easy birth plan?
There are five main areas to cover in your birth plan. I have listed them below with ideas of what you need to include in each section. Each section should be short and also use bullet points to make the information quick to read.
If you have enjoyed reading this check out the complete guide to childbirth. I share my packing list for your hospital bag, how to prepare for labour and my experience of labour and delivery.
What information should I include?
This helps the midwives to quickly build a relationship with you and your birth partner. Then they can offer you the support and guidance you need.
- Your preferred name
- Birth partner’s name, relationship to you and phone number
- Baby’s gender and name if you have decided
- Any religious requirements or language barriers
Keep this section short and in bullet points. This is just a quick way for you to know they are aware of anything that could affect your labour. Then if they need more details they can refer to your medical notes.
- A short summary of previous labours – just any complications, type of labour, length
- Any allergies – this will be in your medical notes but I like to have it in a place that is easy to see
- Any health conditions or disabilities you want them to be aware of
Your wishes for labour
Remember to be realistic. Things can and will change during labour and you need to prepared to change with them. Also being prepared helps you to remain calm and focused.
- Pain relief you would like to use – include several types of pain relief you would want to try and also explain the circumstances you would want to use them
- Positions you want to be in for labour
- Any special requests you would like e.g. a birthing ball, aromatherapy oils, to be able to play music, a birthing pool
- Any worries or fears you may have that may affect you during labour
- The role you want your birth partner and midwife to take – massages, offering support, holding hands, standing back and giving you space, asking you questions or waiting until you tell them you need something
Your wishes for delivery and postpartum care
Remember to be realistic. Things can and will change during delivery and you need to prepared to change with them. Being prepared helps you to remain calm and focused.
- Any preferences you have around assisted delivery or a caesarean
- Any worries or fears you may have
- Who you would like to cut the cord
- Episiotomy preferences
- If you would like assistance to deliver the placenta or if you would prefer to deliver it naturally
Your wishes for the baby
A few notes on what you would like to happen immediately after the baby is delivered
- If you are happy for baby to have vitamin k injection
- Preferences for skin to skin contact – when do you want this to happen? Do you want this immediately or do you want baby cleaned or checked first?
- If you will be breastfeeding or bottle feeding
Go ahead and write your quick and easy birth plan. There should be space in your maternity notes to put down all your wishes or you can get a blank birth plan from the NHS. Use these five sections to help you to include everything that will help you to be in control during labour.