How to write a birth plan - Preparing for labour

Updated: Aug 15, 2019

Birth plans can cause hours of worry, decision making and questioning but they are usually forgotten about when the special day comes.

How can you write a simple and effective birth plan?

The key is to keep it simple and remember that things can change, birth plans are best thought of as a priorities list for labour rather than a plan of how things will go. Treats which can be really relaxing and help you unwind after a long day's work can sometimes be just plain annoying during birth. So while it is helpful to make the experience positive, relaxing and special with gentle music, massage and baths, don't be surprised or disappointed if at the time you don't want that, at all.

Pregnancy Yoga can be really helpful for being mindful and calm during pregnancy and labour.

Practice also helps. Try out the positions you think sound comfortable for your birth every night. Try rocking or rotating in these using your labour breathing for however long is comfortable. This will help build stamina and confidence. While you are practising breathing, movements and positions, listen to some relaxing music and prepare a playlist, if that is important for you. Make sure the music is calming, rhythmic and relaxing. If massage sounds desirable to you, try and make time to practise massage techniques with your partner, so you both know what works.

5 main details to include in your birth plan:

  1. Location of birth

  2. Vaginal examinations – specify if you would rather not have them or only a few

  3. Birth partner’s role

  4. Pain relief – ideal situation

  5. You can ask for intermittent or continuous monitoring of baby’s heart beat

6 important choices for early and active labour:

  1. Positions for early labour

  2. Atmosphere desired: music, lighting, incense, massage oils, cushions,

  3. Positions for active labour

  4. Intervention preferences – (inducing, forceps and ventouse)

  5. Cord clamping, cutting the cord, seeing/keeping the placenta

  6. Cord blood collection - can be an alternative to bone marrow for transplants

7 choices for pushing and after the birth

  • Preferred position for pushing

  • If you would like to hold baby after delivery, before or after a wash

  • If you would like skin to skin contact asap

  • Placenta delivery – on your own or actively managed with an injection

  • If you're happy for baby to have the Vitamin K injection – to prevent a rare blood disorder

  • If planning for a Caesarean – spinal or general anaesthetic (1 in 5 births are C-Section)

  • If you would like to try breastfeeding or start with formula

Optional Extras

  • Guidance from midwives – how much would you like?

  • How much information about what is happening would you like?

  • If you would like to bring your own equipment (birthing ball, mats, bean bags etc.)

  • Photographs/videos - what would you like to capture?

Main Priorities

It is important that you decide with your partner how you will make other decisions when in labour. If you are tired or vague through pain relief how will your partner help you make choices and agree to what happens? If you know your main priorities the smaller decisions are easier. What are your priorities for your birth?

Antenatal Classes in Bristol on labour and baby care, empowering you to feel confident and content in your new role as a parent. Book online today!

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