advice

planning the un-plannable:
how to write the perfect birth plan

Once your baby decides to make his or her grand entrance, you'll be much too busy to go into detail about what you do and don’t want during labour. Your birth plan is the best way to let your doctors and midwives know exactly how you want it to go so that they can make you as comfortable as possible. Here's what you should think about while putting yours together.

expectant parents understanding a birth plan template

choose your birth partner

You're allowed more than one person in the room with you, so don't worry if you can't decide between your mum and your baby's other parent. Your birth partner(s) should know your birth plan inside out (and back to front) so that they can keep things running smoothly on the day. They should also be ready to offer you support – from sips of water to full-on back massages.

decide on equipment

Cushions, mats and beanbags make it easier to get comfy during labour. You can bring your own equipment or ask to use the hospital's if they have it. Some hospitals have special facilities like birthing pools and LDRP (labour, delivery, recovery postnatal) rooms where you stay from start to finish.

think about positions and pain relief

In films, mums always give birth lying on their back. In real life you can be a bit more active. In your birth plan you can choose which positions you think would be most comfortable – whether it's kneeling, squatting, sitting or standing. Another thing to think about is pain relief. You can choose to avoid drugs and stick to breathing exercises, or go for a numbing epidural. You can also choose less conventional options like massage and acupuncture.

make your feelings on interventions clear

Medical interventions – which include forceps delivery, caesarean births and bringing on your labour by being induced. You should add your feelings about interventions in your birth plan. For example, you might prefer not to be induced or would like to have an episiotomy to avoid the risk of tearing. Do remember that in an emergency situation doctors might go ahead anyway to keep you and your baby safe – that’s their job after all.

think about what happens next

You can make special requests such as wanting mum or dad to cut the cord or for them to be the one to tell you the baby's sex (if you don’t already know). Mention whether you want skin-to-skin contact right away or if you'd prefer baby to be bathed and swaddled before your first cuddle.

relax

The birth plan is just a guide and sometimes things need to be tweaked at the last minute. You can change your mind about things on the day too (for example if mum or dad doesn't want to cut the cord anymore, or if you decide you would like an epidural after all).

sharing is caring

Going to antenatal classes will give you all the information you need to write a detailed birth plan that you’re really comfortable with. They are also great for meeting people in the same boat as you. Why not start a Facebook or WhatsApp group with fellow expectant mums so you can share tips, discuss your options and offer each other reassurance?