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Why make a birth plan?

How does that saying go? Ah yes, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”. 

A birth plan, like any plan, will not necessarily be a second by second plan of how things will actually go. But don’t let that put you off.  

A birth plan is not only about selecting your ideal choices but, importantly, it is about educating yourself of all the options available so that you are able to be informed and empowered to make decisions  if and when an unexpected situation arises. It’s good to be aware of all your options and their implications before the pain, excitement, and possibly your medication, set in!

What to consider

Developing a birth plan will allow you to consider:

  • where you would like to give birth,
  • who you would like with you,
  • if you would like any special equipment or facilities,
  • what position you would like to give birth in 
  • if you would like skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth 
  • pain relief options
  • feeding options

How to use your birth plan

Discuss your birth plan with your midwife before birth so that you can iron out any questions and feel as comfortable as possible. 

You may want to add more information to your birth plan that is less medical and more personal. For example, do you have a playlist lined up and do you want your partner to take photos during/after the delivery? It is also important to show this plan to your midwife as your decision to give birth surrounded by hundreds of flowers, by candle light, surrounded by a string quartet may violate hospital policy! 

Discuss your plan with your partner, mum, best friend, sister or whoever else may be in the room with you so that they are aware of your choices and able to support you in your decision making. Provide a copy for each of the people who may be with you as well as a copy for yourself and the hospital. 

The plans are not set in stone, you can change your mind at any point. Prepare to be flexible by thinking about plans B and C as well as plan A. What happens if the birth pool isn’t available? What if you need an emergency caesarean? The more you understand, the easier decision making will be on the day.

Visit the NHS website to find out more, and download a template.

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