Birth plans/preferences are great! They allow you to properly research your options in birth prior to going into labour, they allow you to fully immerse yourself in your birth and limit dialogue when you're trying to focus on your breathing & your body. They also provide you with confidence that your midwifery team are on your side and working with you.
They can too be a daunting thing to write, especially if it's your first baby. Well no worries, I've got you. Here's a quick guide on what you can/should include in your birth plan. Don't worry about how it looks, it's all about the content, and it can be as long or as short as you like (it's not a dissertation assignment with a word count :-)!)
If you're stuck, I do have a template that I give to my clients, reach out and I'd be happy to share it with you in PDF format.
Cover the essentials first -
You should always begin with the following, so that if there is no time to read anything else, the basics are covered
Estimated due date
Birth place choice
Important to know - this could be any allergies, quick overview of previous birth trauma, any issues in your pregnancy - basically anything you'd want the midwife to know above all else (your midwife will also have your pregnancy notes, but pull out key points here).
Birth partner details -
Sometimes things can kick off pretty quickly and when you least expect it (your baby chooses when it begins it's journey into the world, and it's not always convenient). Therefore you might find yourself in a position where your birth partner isn't with you when you arrive at hospital/your midwife gets to your home. You'll want them to take charge of getting them to you, and they will.
If they're with you from the offset, it's nice for your team to know his/her name :-)
What's your ideal birth environment? -
Detail how you'd like your environment to look and feel. Have LED tee lights you'd like to put around? Music/Playlist you'd like to play? Lights off/Dim lighting? Bed moved? All of this should be detailed down.
If you'd prefer not to be hooked up to monitoring unless absolutely needed, write this down. If you plan on rejecting vaginal examinations, write this down too. Don't worry, you can caveat with the line 'Unless the safety of baby or mum is in question, then proceed with the medical necessity' and you're always free to change your mind.
Pain relief -
You're totally within your right to change your mind on this too, but it's important to list how you feel about each kind of pain relief and what you'd ideally like to use/not use.
Positions for labour and birth -
If you want to be able to move around, say this (and you very likely will listen to your body and want to). If you'd like to bring your baby into the world kneeling, or squatting, or any "Upright, forward and open' positions you've learned, jot this down.
We always advocate listening to your body and where it wants to be, if you have this in your birth plan, it will likely prevent you going into 'patient mode' and immediately laying on your back in a hospital bed.
Birth variations -
If your ideal plan is to give birth in the water but things take a different turn, detail how you would like your environment to be, language used around you, utilisation of hypnobirthing aids, pain relief for all other types of birth. This includes c-sections and assisted delivery.
For a c-section you may wish to include that you'd like the curtain dropped, music playing, dim lighting, quiet conversation, certain words omitted, a gentle delivery. Your birth team will do all they can to accommodate your wishes.
The third stage -
This is often a quick one around coached pushing. If you'd prefer not to be told to/coached to push, write this down.
The Golden Hour -
This was my favourite part of my own birth plan, detailing all the things I wanted to happen after I had met my baby. I wanted to be fully dedicated to taking in every delicious moment with her rather than having to talk to any one, so this really helped.
Skin to skin - this is pretty much common practice now but put this first.
Delayed cord clamping - again often this will be automatic but pop it in any way.
Who cuts the cord?
Placenta delivery preference
Decision to breastfeed or not. If you'd like extra support, request it.
I always say to have a little section at the end where you can include anything else you think of nearer the time. This might be an alternative birth partner's details, a particular part of your labour you'd like to get extra care for/be totally left alone for, or any questions you'd like to ask after your birth.
It's always nice to say 'Thank you' to your midwife on your birth plan. Firstly for reading and taking note of your wishes, and secondly for the amazing care you'll receive.
If you have any more questions, please don't hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org