What is a birth plan?

A birth plan is a written record of what you would like to happen during your labour and after your baby is born.

Thinking about the options will help you decide what you would prefer before you go into labour.

Around week 34 of your pregnancy, your midwife or GP will give you information about preparing for labour and birth, including developing your birth plan.

What should I include?

Your birth plan is personal to you. It will depend on:

  • what you want
  • your medical history
  • what’s available at your maternity service

Your birth plan can include information such as:

  • where you’d like to give birth (at home, in a midwife-led unit or hospital)
  • who you’d like to be with you
  • what position you’d like to be in during labour
  • whether you want pain relief and, if so, your preferred choice (such as pethidine, an epidural, or gas and air)
  • if you want an injection to speed up delivery of the placenta, or if you want it to be a  natural delivery
  • how you feel about an assisted birth or Caesarean section if things don’t go to plan
  • if you want your baby placed straight on your stomach before they're cleaned
  • how you plan to feed your baby (breastfeed or bottle feed)
  • whether you agree to having student nurses, midwives or doctors present

You’ll probably want to think about or discuss some things more fully with the baby’s father and friends and relatives and include any special requirements - for example, a special diet in hospital or religious customs you wish to be observed.

Writing your birth plan

You may be given a special form for your birth plan, or there may be room in your notes.

Our pregnancy care planner includes a form with several sections, to help you write your birth plan as well information about your options during labour and birth.

Use your birth plan as an opportunity to explain the things that really matter to you. However, remember to be flexible and recognise that things don’t always go to plan. 

You don’t have to write your birth plan all at once. You can add and change things at any time as you learn more about childbirth from antenatal classes, reading books or talking to other mothers.

The maternity team who care for you during labour will discuss your birth plan with you so that they know what you want. It’s also a good idea to keep a copy of your birth plan with you.

Read more answers to questions about pregnancy.

Further information:

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Next review due:

Page last reviewed: 05/12/2013

Next review due: 04/12/2015