How to write a birth plan

“The birth plan was ‘my voice’ when I was too preoccupied with surges to speak. The midwife reviewed every bullet point with me. I was able to nod in agreement during my contractions confident in the knowledge that my plan was being followed.” Read on to download my birth plan as a first time mum.

Birth Plan

The birth plan is free to download.

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Read on for tips on how to write your own birth plan.

What is a birth plan?

A birth plan provides the midwives and medical staff with an easy to read document that summarises your preferences for labour and the immediate after care of your new born baby.

  1. Benefits of a birth plan?
  2. What if something unexpected happens?
  3. What do midwives think of birth plans?
  4. What should I include?
  5. Where can I download a real birth plan?
  6. When should I start?

1. Benefits?

It is a good idea to create a birth plan because it:

  • prepares you for the birth by thinking through ‘what if’ scenarios in advance of labour, e.g. if I go beyond my due date I would prefer ‘to be’ or ‘not be’ induced. Or, what I want my partner to do when the signs of labour start.
  • allows you to explore options with your midwife and ask for more information during your antenatal appointments.
  • provides a focus for pregnancy book research, ante-natal classes and when talking to other mums.
  • creates a realistic plan of preferences based on reality; available hospital facilities, your health, home birth suitability, hospital practices and procedures.
  • helps build a supportive relationship with medical staff by introducing you and your birthing partner to midwives, registrars and anesthetists.
  • increases confidence because you are informed, prepared and have included a number of comfort strategies that work for you.
  • helps you focus attention on birthing during labour because you have a document stating your wishes.
  • communicates your wishes clearly to medical staff when you may not be able to do so verbally.
  • is unique to your specific circumstances, medical history and personal preferences.

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2. What if something unexpected happens in labour?

Your birth plan is not set in stone; it is a list of your ‘ideal’ preferences. Once you are in labour, you may change your mind about certain things (e.g. pain relief) or the midwife may suggest a different course of action depending on the well being of you and your baby.

Write the birth plan in the knowledge that your options are flexible and it will help you to remain calm and confident should the birthing of your baby take a different turn from what you were hoping.

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3. What do midwives think of birth plans?

Midwives are in favour of birth plans because it familiarises you with the stages of labour, pain relief and different forms of medical intervention. If you and your birthing partner are well informed you are less likely to feel intimidated by medical equipment or jargon. Consequently you are more confident, relaxed and positive about going into labour.

Your midwife will be familiar with reading birth plans. Some midwives in the UK are trained as Hypnobirthing practitioners which places emphasis on the creation of a birth plan.

Although medical care is paramount to midwives, they also provide tremendous physical comfort, emotional support and encouragement – they are most definitely on your side!

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4. What should I include in my birth plan?

The best birth plans are short and use bullet points which allow carers to quickly understand preferences without having to flick through reams of pages.

The key sections in your birth plan include:

  • Personal Information – details you and your partner or supporters name.
  • Environment – subdued lighting, preference for gender of medical staff, water birth.
  • First Stage Preferences – pain relief, monitoring evaluations, labour positions, eating / drinking.
  • Second Stage Preferences – pushing / breathing, perineum episiotomy, the birth, holding the baby before checks.
  • Third Stage Preferenceshow the placenta is delivered naturally or medically where the medical staff administer drugs.
  • Care of Our Babyhandling of baby by staff, wish to breast feed baby.
  • In Case of Cesarean – pain relief, bottle feed or breast feed, support required.
  • Other Considerations – summary of above, recognition that birth may not go according to plan and that well being of baby and mother is paramount.

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5. Where can I download a real mum’s birth plan?

You can download an example of a Mindful Mum’s birth plan stating preferences for her first baby’s birth to be a normal, natural water birth with minimal medical intervention.

Free Birth Plan

The birth plan is free to download.

Download birth plan

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This birth plan was followed by the midwives in the labour ward in February 2009. During the labour the ‘maternity notes’ went missing and the ‘birth plan’ was used exclusively. The lead midwife described it as a model birth plan and consequently followed the detail to the letter. The labour lasted six hours in total (three hours at home and three hours in the labour ward birthing pool).

Personalise the plan based on your own research and preferences. Familiarise your partner with the plan so they can act as your advocate. Remember to include it in your maternity notes and take a copy to the hospital with you.

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6. When should I start writing my birth plan?

Start thinking about your birth plan at around 28 weeks so that it coincides with any antenatal classes you may be taking. You are technically at full term at 37 weeks, so it is a good idea to have completed it by 36 or 37 weeks.

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Where to now?

Pregnancy Week by Week Pregnancy Week by Week
Read our Pregnancy week by week guide for updates on baby’s development, pregnancy tips and articles on preparing for baby.

Baby NamesBaby Names
Looking for inspiration for your baby’s name? Read the top 100 baby names, celebrity baby names and more in our baby names section.

Pregnancy Photo Ideas
12 stunning pregnancy photos to inspire you to capture youre pregnancy.

Further reading for birth plans

  • BirthChoices and the guide on How to Write A Good Birth Plan is useful for demonstrating various styles of birth plan.
  • What is a Birth Plan NHS Choices
  • If you are considering a Home Birth check out the HomeBirth website
  • Antenatal classes (local  hospital, private classes, Hypnobirthing or National Childbirth Trust)
  • Pregnancy and birth books (e.g. ‘Stand And Deliver’ by Emma Mahony includes various birthing stories)
  • Check out hospital facilities (e.g. birthing pool,  birth balls, policies)
  • Talk to other mums (aim to talk to mums with positive birthing experiences)

For more information on this author see my profile here +Ali McHugh

Comments for 'How to write a birth plan'

5 Responses to How to write a birth plan

  1. Jeanette McGuire says:

    Thanks for birth plan, I’ve been looking for something simple and too the point. So many birth plans go on forever… First baby so here is hoping it all goes to plan ;o)

  2. Jeanette McGuire says:

    Thanks for birth plan, I've been looking for something simple and too the point. So many birth plans go on forever… First baby so here is hoping it all goes to plan ;o)

  3. Pingback: What is Hypnobirthing? Overview of Hypnobirthing in the UK | Mindful Mum

  4. Pregnantpoet says:

    thanks for this!! very useful.. I’m 26 weeks but I need to get this done & I have used other models but they were very american so didnt apply to the NHS.

  5. daniellearmstrong says:

    thanks so much for the sample birth plan, its exactly what i have been looking for, and will be adapting this for my own birth. thanks again!

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