Not everyone likes making lists – but making a list or birth plan of what you would like to happen during your labour and baby’s birth can be a good idea.
What is a birth plan?
A birth plan is a record of what you would like to happen when you are in labour and just after your baby’s birth. Why is it a good idea to make one? If you’ve made a plan it means you have researched the different steps of labour and thought about what is likely to happen – so you can make informed choices about things like what pain treatments you would like or who you want to be there with you.
Once you have made up your mind and written your plan down it’s important to share the information with all the people who will be involved in the birth – before the event. This way your doctor and midwife, partner, family or other friends will all know what is important to you.
What goes into a birth plan?
Each women’s birth plan will be different as it is based around your individual preferences and choices – but it needs to be clear and easy-to-follow. Start by putting the most important things at the top of the list.
The sort of things you may want to consider for your list are:
- Who you want at the birth – this could be your partner, a family member, a private midwife or other birthing companions (doula)
- What you want in the delivery room – such as relaxing music, low level lighting and birthing aids such as squatting bar or birth stool
- Your preferred birthing positions – for example, kneeling, standing or squatting
- The types of pain relief you want to use and preferred order – plus any you may want to try to avoid
- Whether you want to have an injection of a drug (a synthetic version of the hormone oxytocin) to help speed up the placenta delivery and help prevent heavy bleeding
- Who you would like to cut the baby’s umbilical cord – and whether you would prefer the clamping of the cord to be delayed
- Any religious, cultural or special needs you may have.
Tips for getting started
Before you get started on your plan it’s a good idea to do some research on what happens during labour, what it’s like to give birth and the choices you can make.
The more questions you ask and the more research you do the more prepared you’ll be:
- Go to antenatal classes and discuss your ideas with your midwife or doctor – this will help you learn about what choices are available to you
- Talk to other mothers – find out their experiences and see if anyone gave birth in the hospital or centre you’ll be going to
- Reading up about labour and birth – including the bits about what may go wrong, that way you’ll be prepared in case anything happens
- Ideally you should have the plan finished and discussed with everyone who will be involved in your labour and birth before you are about 36 weeks pregnant – just in case your baby is early.
Remember not everything goes to plan – labour and birth are unpredictable processes and you can’t control everything! It’s important to be flexible and not to be too disappointed if you aren’t able to follow your birth plan to the letter.
Always talk to your midwife or doctor about any problems you may be concerned about.