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How to write a birth plan

How to write a birth plan

A birth plan is the document of birth choices you'll take with you to the hospital or hand to the midwife, when you go into labour. It outlines your hopes for the birth and gives the midwife an idea of the kind of birth you'd like.

There may be a section in your hospital notes for a birth plan, or simply write a list on a piece of paper - there's no set format. Chat it over with you birth partner so he or she can speak up for you on the day, and discuss your options with your midwife at antenatal appointments. Don't be afraid to include anything important to you, however foolish it may sound.

But do be flexible - things may go very differently on the big day.

What to include:

  • Birth partner ??who will be with you? Are you happy for them to make decisions on your behalf?
  • Environment ??would you like to try the birthing pool? Will you be bringing your own music to play? Is there any other birthing equipment you'd like to use?
  • Pain relief ??which options would you prefer to use? In what order of preference? Are there any you only want used if absolutely necessary? Are you planning to use any alternative remedies too?
  • Intervention ??you have the right to refuse any 'routine' interventions (such as your waters being broken artificially, your labour being induced, an episiotomy, forceps) and should outline your preferences here. But consider the pros and cons carefully before making any decision during the birth.
  • Positions ??if you want to move about freely during labour, state that here. It is your right to have an active birth if you wish.
  • After the birth ??say whether you want to hold your baby immediately, or whether you want him or her cleaned and wrapped in a towel first. Also mention if you'd like your partner to cut the umbilical chord (he can change his mind if he's not so sure on the day). And say if you'd like help to start breastfeeding straight away.
  • Delivery of the placenta ??you will be offered a synthetic hormone, Syntometrine or Syntocinon, to speed delivery of your placenta. If you'd prefer not to, state that here.
  • Vitamin K- shortly after your baby is born, you will be asked for permission for him to be given vitamin K. It's up to you whether you want him to have it, and how you want him to be given it (via an injection or orally). It is not an easy choice to make as even experts disagree over how Vitamin K should be given. Unless you express a preference, the hospital will probably follow its own policy. It is usual to give several doses if given orally, since it is less well absorbed than by injection. If you would like more information before making your decision, talk to your doctor or midwife.