Writing your labour and birth plan
A birth plan outlines your preferences for labour and what’s important to you. Find out more about writing a birth plan.
What is a birth plan?
A birth plan is a record of what you would like to happen during your baby’s birth. The process of writing a birth plan can be a great prompt for you to think about options and do some research.
It includes things like what position you want to give birth in, what pain relief you prefer (if you need it) and who you would like to be with you at the birth.
A birth plan can be a good way to communicate with your midwife or doctor about what is important to you before the birth. It gives them information about your preferences during labour and what you would like to avoid, where possible. It is also helpful if something unexpected happens if you are away from home or travelling.
Because you cannot control every aspect of labour and the birth, it is best to be flexible in your planning in case something does not go as planned.
Where to start
Get as much information as you can:
- Go to antenatal classes. Ask your healthcare provider to recommend an antenatal class or look for a private class in your area. Ask other parents where they did their antenatal classes and if they would recommend them.
- Talk to women who have given birth at the hospital or birth centre you are going to, or to women who have had a home birth, if that's what you are hoping for. Find out how easy or difficult it was for them to get the kind of care they wanted.
- Talk to your partner or support person. What sort of labour and birth would they like you to have? How do they see their role?
- If you know you are having a caesarean section or would just like to be prepared, you can read more about this, too. You may be able to make many decisions about your birth.
What things should I consider for my birth plan?
- My preferred name/nickname
- Pain relief during and after birth
- The atmosphere you would like – think about music, aromatherapy or lighting
- Positions for labour and birth – such as the pool, squatting, hands and knees
- Who will be present during the birth – and anyone you don’t want in the room – plus include who should stay if intervention is required
- Delayed cord clamping and who you want to cut the cord
- If you would like baby to have vitamin K
- What you would like to happen once the baby is born - baby on your chest straight away, baby dried first then put skin to skin, or to wait until the first feed is finished before weighing and check-ups are done
- Feeding your baby – be clear about whether you plan to breastfeed or bottle feed
- Special needs – list any considerations you may need if you have a disability
Who should be aware of your birth plan
Your antenatal classes will help you understand the options available to you, but speak to your midwife or doctor about what might suit your personal circumstances.
Designing a birth plan to suit you is a great way of helping you to feel more in control of the situation and for you to know what will happen for each step of the birth.
It is also a great way to talk about the birth process with your partner, so that they can be an advocate on your behalf, if necessary. Consider your birth plan as an ideal for your labour, but remember the best plan is to stay flexible in case something happens that makes it necessary to deviate from your preferences.
Try to stay relaxed and remember it’s the final result that matters – a healthy and happy mother and baby.