Your birth plan is ideal if there are certain things that you really do or do not want to happen during your labour. Like some women, you may have individual preferences totally unique to you, but the following is a list of more general considerations. You may know exactly how you want your birth experience to be but that doesn’t mean your midwife or birthing partner will automatically know as well.
Your birth plan can be as detailed or as minimal as you want and still ensure that your wishes will be known and followed as best as possible. The following are examples of the sort of things you might want to include in your birth plan and can be adapted to suit wherever you choose to give birth (home, birth centre or hospital):
- Who are you planning to have as your birth partner, or partners?
- Is there anyone else you hope to have with you- alternative therapists, a doula?
- It would also be good to include plans for other children – whether they will be present (if having a homebirth), who will look after them etc?
- How much do you want your midwife to be involved during your labour?
For example, you may just want her to observe and offer encouragement or you may want her to take a more active role
- Is there a particular midwife, for instance, whom you feel comfortable with, and would prefer, if she is available?
- Ambience and mood – would you want the lights dimmed, a certain candle or oil burning or particular music playing? Also say if you want voices to be kept to a minimum
- What equipment would you like (e.g. a fan, birthing ball, birth stool, bean bag etc.)?
- Are you planning on using anything in the way of pain relief?
- Think about the medical forms available, or would you rather use alternative forms of pain relief?
- Is there anything you would rather avoid?
- Do you want to keep your options open?
- Do you want to be upright and mobile?
- Do you want to use any particular positions for labour? (Think about upright, forward and open positions)
- Do you want to be able to have a bath when you want?
- Do you want to be able to eat and drink when you choose?
- How frequently / infrequently would you prefer internal examinations or would you rather avoid internal exams?
- How do you feel about having your waters broken?
- How informed do you want to be of procedures / interventions? (e.g. I would like all procedures discussed with me in advance / interventions kept to a minimum)
- How do you feel about electric fetal monitoring? Would you prefer to avoid it if you are progressing normally?
- Would you like to wait for the involuntary pushing urge and ask not to be ‘coached’ to push, or would you like some guidance?
- Where do you want to give birth? (i.e. in the birthing pool or the bathroom, front room etc. if at home)
- What position would you like to give birth in (e.g. standing, kneeling)?
- Who will ‘catch’ the baby? If you or your partner want to ‘catch’ the baby mention it in your plan
- If you are keen to avoid an episiotomy, mention it in your birth plan, also mention if you would rather tear than be cut
- Would you like a mirror to see the head crowning?
- Would you like to touch your baby’s head as it crowns?
- Would you like to find out the sex of your baby for yourself / your partner finding out and telling you, or be told by the staff?
- Would you like to bring your baby up onto your chest straight away for skin to skin contact or cleaned up before he / she is given to you?
- It’s worth considering your options for delivering the placenta before hand, as for example, it you wait until after the birth, it may be too late to request a natural third stage:
- Active – when your midwife will administer syntometrine at the time of birth and cut and clamp the cord immediately
- Active – when syntometrine is administered but the cord isn’t cut and clamped until it has stopped pulsating
- Natural – with no drugs administered but the cord is cut and clamped
once it has stopped pulsating (you can have the syntometrine at any time if needed)
- Natural – with no administration of drugs or assistance until the placenta is fully delivered at which stage the cord can be cut (you can have the syntometrine at any time if needed)
- Who you would like to cut the cord?
- Would you like to see / keep the placenta?
- Would you like to be left alone as a family?
After the birth
- Would you prefer small tears to be stitched or to heal on their own?
- How are you planning to feed your baby?
- How soon after the birth you would like to start breastfeeding (if planning on doing so)?
- Do you want your baby to have a vitamin K injection?
- If you have given birth in hospital or a birth centre, when would you hope to be discharged? (NB this depends on the type of birth you have had)
- If the labour does not go smoothly and you need medical help, such as an assisted delivery or caesarean birth, do you have any views on how these are done?
- Is there anything you are especially worried about?