A birth plan gives an idea of what you would like to happen during your labour and after the birth.
You don't have to create a birth plan but if you want to, your midwife will be able to help and offer ideas and suggestions. Make sure you ask your midwife plenty of questions and find out as much as you can about what happens in labour. Discussing a birth plan with your midwife will give you the chance to ask questions and find out more about what happens in labour.
There will probably be a few things you might want to discuss with the baby's father and your friends and relatives. Although it's a good idea to make a birth plan, you don't have completely stick to it. When the big day finally arrives, you can change your mind about your wishes for labour and birth at any time.
Your birth plan should be personal to you. Largely it will consist of what you want and your own preferences but it will also need to factor in your medical history and what maternity services are available to you in your local area. Labour is different for everyone, so what may be ideal for one woman might not necessarily be best for you.
Usually your midwife will give you a form of questions regarding labour and birth for you to fill out that will act as your birth plan. Alternatively, you can visit the NHS website and print one out yourself.
Towards the end of your pregnancy, it's a good idea to keep your notes and a copy of your birth plan with you at all times.
The maternity team who care for you during labour will always try their best to comply with your wishes but remember you will need to be flexible. If complications arise with you or your baby you'll need to be prepared to do things differently.
Things to consider and include in your birth plan are:
- Your choice of pain relief
- Where you would like to give birth
- Who you would like with you
Antenatal classes are a great way to pick up more information on these subjects and get advice on writing your birth plan.
You'll need to discuss with your birth partner how you'd like them to support you during labour. Think about any comforts from home that you might want to include in your hospital bag and confirm with your midwife that it's ok for you to bring them with you on the big day.
For more information on pregnancy health and advice go to www.nhs.uk/Start4Life