VBAC (Vaginal birth after C section)
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Alison Ross
Registered Midwife, DipHe, BSc (Hons) Was a midwife at Kingston Hospital and Specialist Midwife in Perinatal Mental Health.
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Birth and labour

How do I write a birth plan and what is its purpose?

Each birth is unique and each labouring woman, baby, birth partner and team is unique. This means that you will need to think about what birth decisions you would prefer and also what you would like to do if changes and decisions need to be made during the birth.
In Short
Making these decisions with your team and writing them down is your ‘birth plan’.

A birth plan helps you get clear in your mind how you want to manage your birth and helps everyone around you on your birth team understand your preferences and help you make the best possible preparation for your baby’s birth.

You can discuss your birth plan with your midwife and they will give you feedback and what will be possible in the unit where you plan to give birth. For example, you may want a water birth, but the unit may only have one pool.

By discussing your birth plan with your midwife, you will also have the chance to ask questions and find out more about what happens in labour. It also gives your midwife or birth team the chance to get to know you better and understand your feelings and priorities.

It is important that you and your birth partner (and doula if you are planning to have a doula at your birth) fully discuss your birth plan and caveats so that they are able to act as your advocate throughout the labour and birth. This can help if you are exhausted and don’t want to talk to the hospital staff but trust your birth partner and doula to help you to make the best decisions for your birth. You may not be able to follow the birth plan precisely, but if you’ve had lots of discussion around your preferences you’ll be in the best position.

You can start writing your birth plan at any time in your pregnancy, but best to finalise it after you attend classes as you might want to change or add certain things that you perhaps were not aware of before you attended classes. It’s a good idea to get your birth plan completed and discussed with your midwife before 37 weeks in case you go into labour before 40 weeks.

Once you have written your plan, keep it with your pregnancy notes.

Some things you might want to include in your birth plan:

  • Who will be your birth partner
  • Where you would like to give birth
  • Analgesia you might want to consider including hypnobirthing or water birth
  • Any equipment you might want to use such as bean bags, gym balls etc
  • How you would like your labour to be monitored
  • If you need an assisted birth would you prefer a Ventouse or forceps delivery
  • Whether you want a managed or natural third stage
  • If you want your baby to be given to you straight after the birth for skin to skin contact
  • If you want skin contact to be uninterrupted so your baby can search and self-attach to your breast
  • If you decide to bottle feed to be enabled to give the first feed yourself in skin contact
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This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.