At your 34 week appointment, your midwife is likely to speak to you about writing a birth plan. (sometimes called birth preferences). It’s not mandatory, but it is very important for your birth, and here’s why:
- Your birth plan explains YOUR choices for birth, so that your midwives (and doctors) know how best to support you. Otherwise, you or your birth partner are going to have to explain all of your wishes as you go! Can you imagine how tricky that would be as things progress?
- You can set out what you do want and what you don’t want during your birth – don’t want people to touch you without asking first? Write it in your birth plan! Don’t want to be offered pain relief? Get that down in your plan. Want the room to be calm and quiet? Make that clear in there too!
- The actual process of writing your birth plan is important. Sitting down with your birth partner, discussing and writing down your choices for birth (see below) is a milestone in your pregnancy journey. It helps you (and your partner) visualise how you want birth to be.
My top tips for writing your birth plan:
- Ideally do a hypnobirthing or birth preparation course first. That way you and your birth partner willreally understand how to influence your birth. This will make a big difference when you come to write your birth plan.
- WRITE IT WITH YOUR BIRTH PARTNER! They need to understand what your choices are for birth so they can support you and advocate for you if necessary. You’re a team during birth (and hopefully your birth prep course has helped them to feel confident about their important role). It’s not going to help empower your birth partner if they’re not involved in writing your birth plan.
- Make it as concise as possible – bullet points are good! Midwives see a lot of these documents, so avoid writing lots of prose. You could even highlight key words or phrases in bold. The guideline is to try and avoid going over two pages – BUT if you have more complex birth needs then don’t worry about this; write what you need to.
- Grouping your choices into sections can be helpful for those supporting you during birth, e.g. birth environment, managing sensations, the birthing stage, the placenta, once baby is born etc.
- Print out a few copies. Put them in your birth/hospital bag. Pin one up on the fridge too!
Know that your birth partner may have to remind the midwives/doctors of your birth choices…. Not all of them read these documents carefully (though many do)!
If you’d like a template birth plan, click here to contact me. I can share them with you for a birth at home, birth centre or hospital. I also have templates for induction and caesarean birth.
Find out more about birth preparation courses – I run these in groups or 1:1. You can also book a one-off 1:1 session with me to discuss any questions about your birth plan.
Or come and follow me on social media (click). I often share birth tips and info!