There is no set format for a birth plan; it can consist of a few simple instructions, or detailed notes. It is important to include those issues that most concern you, and to list your preferences, but try not to sound too confrontational. Discuss the plan with your doctor or midwife, and ask them to sign and date it. You need two copies, one for yourself and one to attach to your hospital notes.
Who you want to have present as a birth partner
- Who will be your birth partner: your partner, a friend, or a relative? Can you have more than one person with you? If you need to have a Caesarean delivery or stitches, would you prefer your birth partner to leave?
The first stage
- How do you feel about being induced if you go past your due date?
- Do you want to be as active as possible during labour?
- How do you feel about fetal monitoring, which could confine your movements?
- How do you feel about your labour being artificially speeded up, either by having your waters broken or by a hormone drip
- Have you practised certain breathing or relaxation techniques, and would you like to be coached in these during labour to relieve the pain?
- If you are giving birth in a teaching hospital, do you object to medical students or student midwives being present?
- Do you want to be offered pain relief or do you want the medical team to wait until you ask for it?
- Do you have preferences for certain kinds of pain relief - TENS, gas and air, pethidine, or epidural?
- If you have an epidural, would you prefer it to be timed so that it wears off when you are ready to push?
The second stage
- In what position would you prefer to deliver your baby ?
- Would you prefer to be allowed to tear naturally or would you prefer a cut made to the perineum (an episiotomy) to make room for your baby's head on delivery?
- Would you like to see your baby's head being delivered ?
- Would you like your birth partner to cut the umbilical cord?
When your baby is born
- Would you like your baby to be delivered straight on to your abdomen?
- Does the hospital routinely suction the baby's air passages after birth?
- Do you want a midwife to help you breastfeed?
- Would you and your partner prefer to be left alone with your baby in the delivery room?
The third stage
- Does the hospital routinely use the drug syntometrine to speed up the delivery of the placenta? Would you prefer to deliver it naturally?
- If you need stitches to your perineum, would you prefer an experienced midwife to do them rather than a student? Would you object to having a local anaesthetic for this?
- Providing all goes well, how soon would you like to leave the hospital?