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Birth plan

A birth plan is a record of what you would like to happen during your labour and after the birth. You may be given an opportunity to draw up a birth plan during your antenatal care. If not, ask your midwife if you can do so.

 

Discussing a birth plan with your midwife, preferably over several meetings, will give you the chance to ask questions and find out more information. It also gives the midwife the chance to get to know you better and understand your feelings and priorities. You will probably want to think about or discuss some points more fully with your partner, or friends and relatives, before reaching a decision. And you can, of course, change your mind at any time.

 

There is no one, correct way to give birth. All birth plans have to be drawn up individually and then discussed with your midwife. They depend not only on your own wishes, but also on your medical history and your own circumstances, and on what is available at your own hospital or unit. What may be safe and practical for one mother may not be a good idea for another.

 

You may be given a special form for a birth plan, or there may be room in your notes. You could use this plan as a guide. It’s a good idea for you to keep a copy of your birth plan with you. The midwife or doctor who cares for you during labour will discuss it with you so they know your wishes. But remember, you may need to be flexible if complications arise with you or the baby. The doctor or midwife will tell you what they advise in your particular circumstances. Don’t hesitate to ask questions if you need to.

 

Read the section on Labour and birth  and The first days with your new baby  before talking to your midwife, to see if there is anything you feel strongly about and might wish to include. You may find it useful to think about some of these things. You may want to take this book with you to discuss with your midwife.

Breastfeeding

If you have decided to breastfeed, your birth plan should note that you want to put your baby to your breast straight after birth. This helps to get breastfeeding started. It should also note that you do not want your baby to be given any extra formula milk feeds, as this can hinder successful breastfeeding.

Think about the following things:

  • Do you want your partner, or a chosen companion(s), to be with you during labour?

  • Do you want your partner or companion to be with you if you have a Caesarean section  or forceps delivery, for example?

  • Is equipment such as mats, a birthing chair or beanbags available to you if you want it, or can you bring your own?

 

  • Are there special facilities, like special  rooms or birthing pools?

 

  • How do you want your baby’s heart  monitored if everything is straightforward?

  • Do you prefer to be cared for and delivered by women only?

  • Is it important for you to be able to move  around when you’re in labour?

  • What position would you like to be in for the birth?

  • If you think you would like pain relief, which sort do you want to try ? If you want to try to manage without pain relief, it’s a good idea to note this in the birth plan too.

  • Are epidurals available at all times  should you want one?

  • Are there other means, such as warm baths, massage or other therapies, that you would like to use to help you cope with labour?

  • What do you feel about an episiotomy?

  • Do you want your baby delivered straight on to your tummy or do you want your baby cleaned first?

  • Do you have any feelings about the injection Syntocinon or Syntometrine usually given to you after the birth to help the womb contract?

  • How do you wish to feed your baby?

  • Do you want your baby close to you all the time?

  • If you intend to breastfeed you should make a note that you want your baby close by you all the time or brought to you when hungry so that you can feed on demand.

  • Do you want your baby to have vitamin K, and by which route ?

  • Is there anything you feel you may need extra help with?

  • Do you mind if students are present?

  • Do you need an interpreter?

  • Do you need a sign language interpreter?

  • Do you need a special diet?

  • Do you or your partner or companion have special needs that should be considered, for example, do you or your partner normally use a guide dog or a wheelchair?

  • Are there special religious customs you wish to be observed?  

Information provided by Health Promotion England.