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Writing a birth plan

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SUMMARY

Giving birth to your first baby is a once in a lifetime experience, so you’ll want to ensure you’ve considered everything. From birthing positions and pain relief, to playing music during labour, writing down your preferences in a birth plan will keep your partner and midwife informed of your wishes.

Writing a birth plan

A birth plan states your preferences for both labour and birth. It gives you the chance to think about your hopes for the birth and also provides the midwife with a guide to the kind of birth you'd like. You can include as much detail as you like and make changes at any time, before or during labour.

Research before you write

If you’re attending antenatal classes, it’s likely that you’ll talk about birth plans. Alternatively, ask friends who have recently had babies what they recommend including. It’s a good idea to research pain relief options, so you know what to expect. And, if you’re planning to give birth in hospital or a birth centre, find out which facilities are available.

A birth plan gives you the chance to think about how you’d like things to go, and provides your midwife with a guide.

10 things to consider for your birth plan

1. Your birth partner

State who will be with you in labour and whether you want them with you at all times.


2. Labour and birth positions

Would you like to be moving around, using a birthing ball, or on all fours? Think about how you might be most comfortable.


3. Pain relief

Breathing techniques, water, gas and air, or epidural? List the pain relief you’d like to use and the order you’d prefer it in, and state any methods you don’t want to use.


4. Where you’d like to give birth

Hospital, birth centre or home, where would you like to have your baby? If you choose a home birth, make sure your midwife can attend.


5. Assisted birth

If you need help giving birth, state whether you’d prefer forceps or ventouse.



6. Feeding your baby

If you plan to breastfeed, make it clear if you don’t want your breastfed baby’s feeds to be topped up with formula.


7. Unexpected situations

If your baby has to go to a special baby care unit, how involved do you want to be with their care?


8. Medical conditions or disabilities

Include any information about medical conditions or disabilities that can help your midwife on the day.


9. Cultural or religious needs

If English isn’t your first language and you need an interpreter, let your midwife know. If there are any religious or cultural practices to be carried out after your baby is born, include these.


10. Other considerations

Ambient lighting; uplifting music; whose voices your baby hears when they enter the world… think about the whole experience of this once-in-a-lifetime event and add as much detail as you want.


Start preparing for your baby’s arrival now – download our printable birth plan template.

Download birth plan

Next Steps

Once you’ve written your birth plan, talk it through with your midwife to ensure your preferences are possible. They will also be able to answer any questions and discuss options. Remember, this is a plan and it could change during labour. But, rest assured, any alterations will have your baby’s best interests at heart, and you will always be consulted first.

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