A birth plan is a written statement listing your preferences, which you give to the midwife who is with you in labour.
Gather information from magazines, friends, antenatal classes, and your local hospital.
Then decide your choices on things such as:
• The presence of labour companion(s).
• Pain relief.
• Monitoring your baby.
• Positions for labour and birth.
• Medical procedures for speeding labour up.
• How the placenta should be delivered.
• The moments immediately after your baby's birth.
• Having student midwives, or student doctors present.
There's information elsewhere on the site about each of these points.
• Make your plan clear - use headings and ensure that it's legible!
• Keep it short (a maximum of two pages).
• Make it flexible in case you change your mind once in labour.
• Make plans in case complications develop.
• Mention your special needs.
• Write it in good time - your baby could be early!
• Involve your labour partner.
• Discuss it with your current midwife.
• Remember to give it to the midwife with you in labour!
Here's Zoë and John's plan.
My husband John
Preferences for labour
An active labour with intermittent foetal monitoring.
I will bring a TENS machine. I would like to have gas and air available, but I don't want pethidine. Would prefer not to have an epidural, but will consider it if recommended.
I don't want an episiotomy unless it's medically necessary.
I would prefer a natural third stage if it seems safe, but don't mind having the injection if recommended.
Zoe and John said:
"Writing the plan helped us organise our thoughts. However, because the baby was in an awkward position, we couldn't have everything we would have liked. But we stuck to things we definitely didn't want!"