Writing your birth plan
Firstly I think it is important to think about why we write birth plans/preferences. I have heard some people say things like “ birth never goes to plan so it’s a waste of time” or “ You don’t know how you will cope so don’t bother, just go with the flow” . My reply to those that think that is, the power of a birth plan is not in ensuring everything goes exactly to plan, but in the process of writing the plan. During that process you will become informed about your options, learn about your rights and have important discussions with your significant other. You will find out what is important to you surrounding your birth and may have the opportunity to explore those feelings and the experiences behind them.
For example did you know you can choose who catches your baby? Did you know you can decline routine vaginal examinations? Did you know you can choose to leave the cord intact until after the placenta is born?
Writing a birth plan also allows you to be up to date with the latest research and evidence. As in all things as we learn more as a society our guidelines change. Things that were recommended 10 years ago are no longer seen as the most beneficial choice.
What you put in your birth plan is all about you, it doesn’t actually matter where you decide to birth or how, what matters, is you have made an informed and empowered choice and that you are supported in that. So below I have put a sample birth plan, it has options you can add or take out to suit you and your birth. Some things you will have already decided on and maybe some things you won’t have thought of. If you aren’t sure on something then take a bit of time to research it. Look at NICE guidelines, check out the AIMS website, pop along to your local positive birth movement group and ask for experiences or feel free to message me and I will help where I can or signpost to the relevant people.
My name is ………… Please call me…………. My preferred pronouns are ………
I am planning to birth at home/at a birth centre/ in hospital. Supporting me at my birth will be my partner/sister/mother/doula. Their names are ……….
I wish for my birth companions to be allowed to stay with me at all times. If the need arises to transfer to hospital or between wards please allow them to accompany me.
During labour please direct questions to …………. So I can concentrate on my birth. If needed they will facilitate conversations with me in between contractions.
I consent/do NOT consent to students being present during my labour.
Comfort measures and birth environment-
I plan on using breathing/massage/birth ball/birth stool/birth pool/TENS to help me during my labour.
Please allow me to move around as much as I want and to change position frequently if needed.
Please keep a quiet environment. Please take discussions outside of the room and ask one of my companions to accompany you if needed.
Please do not turn on the lights. I plan to labour in a darkened room. If at home a space will be provided for you to write notes with a lamp.
I am open to using gas and air/Pethadine/epidural if I need to. Please offer the next step if you think I need it/Please do NOT offer me any pain relief, If I feel I need it I will ask.
I plan to use aromatherapy oils/homeopathy/herbal tinctures to help me relax and birth my baby.
Examinations- I consent/do NOT consent to routine vaginal examinations. Please do/ do NOT tell me how dilated I am.
I consent/do NOT consent to intermittent monitoring of baby’s heartbeat every 15 minutes and every 5 minutes during second stage.
I plan to let labour progress at it’s own speed so please do not put time limits on me.
I am planning to birth my baby in the pool/on the floor/on my bed/in my bathroom. I do NOT wish to be coached in my pushing and will allow my natural reflexes to help my baby descend/I would like some support in pushing and birthing positions.
I plan to be active and change position as needed. Please do not limit my movement or ask me to stay on my back.
I would like me/my partner/the midwife to catch my baby and bring my baby straight to my chest. I will be having uninterrupted skin to skin./I would like baby to be wiped before placing on my chest.
If baby needs any assistance please keep the cord intact and do so with baby skin to skin. I will move to make this possible.
Please do not announce the sex of our baby.
Please do NOT cut the cord until it has stopped pulsating/the placenta has been born/at all.
Please use a cord clamp/cord tie and allow …….. to cut the cord.
I consent/do NOT consent to an episiotomy to speed up the birth. I do NOT consent to an instrumental birth unless a life threatening emergency. I would prefer a caesarean if baby needs to be born quickly/ I would prefer forceps over ventouse if possible/I would prefer ventouse over forceps if possible.
Third stage- I am planning on having a physiological/managed third stage. I plan on breastfeeding to encourage the placenta to detach. I wish to have uninterrupted skin to skin during this stage. Please only offer the injection if you feel there is too much bleeding/please offer the injection after ……. If the placenta has not been born.
I am planning on keeping my placenta and will provide a container for it/I am not planning on keeping my placenta but would like to see it/I do not want to see my placenta.
Feeding- I will be breastfeeding/formula feeding my baby. Giving baby the first feed is important to me and I will do this soon after birth. I consent/do not consent to baby being given formula if I am unable to breastfeed.
If we are separated I will express colostrum for baby.
Vitamin K- I consent/do not consent to baby receiving the vitamin K injection after birth. I consent/do not consent to baby receiving the oral vitamin K after birth.
If you are concerned about our baby at any point please give all information in a factual manner to my birth partners and allow us time to discuss without pressure.
I accept things may not always go to plan and if intervention is needed I wish the benefits and risks to be fully explained.
Thank you for reading and being part of our birth experience.
This is not an exhaustive list of things to think about, there may be other things that are incredibly important to you and you feel the need to include in your plan. This is your birth and if it is important to you then it is important.
If you haven’t hired a doula or already booked antenatal classes but are looking for support in writing your birth preferences take a look at local birth workers websites as some may offer a workshop focused on this. I offer a 2 hour workshop where we go over all your choices and write your personalised plan for £30 (bargain!!) also check out the links below for further support and information when planning your birth choices!