How to write a birth plan

I remember writing a birth plan with my first. I was so embarrassed to hand it to the midwife when I was actually in labour. Who did I think I was? I wasn’t ordering a meal, this wasn’t something I could ask for and what would I know having never given birth or been present at one before. I should leave it to the professionals.


Mother moments after birth holding newborn on chest. Father is looking down at newborn. Captured by Birth Photography Melbourne A Grateful Heart

But birth plans aren’t about you deciding what your birth should be like. What it does is make you think about the choices you may (or may not) be presented with. It gives you and your partner time to discuss hypothetical situations and what you would both feel comfortable with if it is to happen. Having a plan allows you to prepare for your birth and know that you are going to be informed, respected and hopefully listened to.


By the time I was close to labor with my third I had a 2 page typed document that I handed to the midwifes and all hospital staff knew my wishes and didn’t wavier on respecting them.


This wasn’t me telling them what HAD to happen. Just that I had considered all the facts and combined with my level of comfort these were my requests if possible.


What I wrote is not the ideal plan. It was what was important to me so rather than giving you my birth plan I will outline some points that will allow you to think about what is important TO YOU and YOUR FAMILY.


Labour

hypnobirthing mother during birth at melbourne hospital. She is being comforted by her birth team while she works through the surges.
  • Do you want cervical checks?

  • What type of monitoring and how frequently (know that if you have intervention checks may be necessary)?

  • What do you want your birthing environment to be like (lighting, music, burning oils, number of medical staff)?

  • What (if any) type of pain relief do you want? Do you want it offered or will you request not to offer unless directed by yourself?

  • How do you want to labor (active/in bath or shower/ on the bed)?

  • Who will your support people be (including partner and doula if you have one)?

  • Are you having a birth photographer (of course that means me )? Your medical staff should be informed prior to the big day.

  • Will there be any children present? If you decide to have them there but do consider that you may need an additional adult to keep them busy while you and your partner are focused on your birth.

  • Any special requests? Who cuts the cord, who tells you the gender, who dresses baby are just some examples of significant moments.


Birth

Love at first sight. Mother looking at newborn for the first time after fast birth at melbourne hospital as captured by melbourne birth photographer.
  • How do you feel about episiotomy ?

  • Do you want to see baby with a mirror or touch its head as its crowning?

  • Do you want to birth in an upright position (kneeling/hands and knees) or any position that you feel is comfortable?

  • Are you ok with staff suggesting trying a different position if things aren’t happening?


Third stage

Mother and father taking a quiet moment after the birth of son at St John of God Berwick. Father is kissing mother on the forehead while baby has skin to skin.
  • Do you want skin to skin? (how soon and how long?)

  • Delayed cord clamping until cord is white? Do you want the cord cut before or after the delivery of the placenta?

  • Do you want a physiological 3rd stage or placenta removed at the earliest possible time?

  • After baby is born do you want the vernix left and not removed until requested by mother? If so specify the time

  • Medical checks of baby (are you wanting them to remain within your eyesight) as long as medically appropriate

  • Do you want a tour of your placenta?

  • Do you wish to keep the placenta? You may need to provide a container so think ahead

  • Baby immunisations- Vitamin K or Hep B?


In the event of medical emergency/cesarean

Things to consider:

  • Epidural or spinal block

  • Skin to skin and first feed in theatre

  • Do you want the baby to stay with you unless baby is medically unwell and needs treatment?

  • Who you like present if you were to have a c section (often only one support person is allowed)

  • Who will go with the baby In the event baby needs to be taken for medical care?

  • What would happen in the event that you are to be separated from baby (formula/expressed breast milk)



Hopefully reading this list will give you a place to start to think about what is important to you and your birthing experience. If you have any questions or want to chat I offer free complimentary chats so please get in touch.