Birth planning

The day you give birth is likely to be one of the most memorable and special days of your life. Whilst it’s best to keep an open mind, you will probably have an idea of the kind of birth you’d like.

There are many options to choose from and it can be confusing to work out what suits you and your family situation. Here are few ideas to get you started - drag the options you prefer and place them into your ‘birth plan’ on the right of the page. You can pick as many or as few as you like.

Once you’re happy with you plan, you can save in your user profile or download and print it off. Remember that your birth plan might need to be altered so it might be helpful to explore different options so you have a Plan B!

Click each birth option for more detail. 

Place of birth

Visiting your maternity ward before the birth can help you become familiar with the surroundings and can often put your mind at ease. If you think a visit could help you feel more comfortable, talk to your midwife about arranging a visit or contact the maternity unit to arrange a time to have a look around. Maybe you could link the visit with your scan appointment.

Homebirths have been shown to be generally very safe for low-risk pregnancies, particularly when it’s your second baby. You might find it reassuring to take a look at some information around homebirth (click here!) or speak with your midwife.

The birthing unit is a wonderful option for low-risk pregnancies. The focus is on encouraging you to be up and moving around, keeping things as natural as possible.

This is a brilliant option for when you or your baby will need some extra care – for example if you need your labour to be induced, require continuous monitoring of your baby’s heartbeat or if you’d like an epidural. You can bring your home comforts, like pillows or your favourite music, in to make you feel more comfortable.

A planned C-section is sometimes the best option for you or your baby. The theatre environment is welcoming and friendly - so you have a safe and calm experience.

You might have some ideas for alternative places to give birth - have a chat with your midwife so you can explore options that will work for you

Birth partners/birth support  

Giving birth is a very intimate experience so it is important that you feel completely comfortable with your birth partner(s).

You might feel more comfortable being supported by a midwife or maybe you won’t be able to have someone from your family or friends to support you. Your midwife will give you 100% support and be with you all the way through labour. Student midwives often act as a birth partner, so you will have plenty of encouragement and caring support.

I’d like _____ to be with me.

Being supported by medical students

Students are always supported and supervised by a senior midwife.

Role of the birth partner

Talking to your birth partner in good time before labour begins will help them to be clear on what you want and to feel more confident in supporting you. Have a think about what you might find helpful from your birth partner.

I’d like them to:

  • Be calm
  • Be supportive
  • Be encouraging
  • Support my decisions
  • Speak on my behalf
  • Cuddle me
  • Stroke me
  • Organise our music playlist
  • Encourage me to eat and drink regularly
  • Make me laugh
  • Make the birth environment warm and cosy

I’d like them to _____ 

Birth environment

Having your own music playlist when you’re at the hospital is a quick and easy way of making the environment your own. You can even request to have your own music in theatre if you’re planning a C-section – you might like to plan what song you’d like your baby to be born to! Each room has a Bluetooth connection speaker so all you need is a playlist on your phone and you’re good to go (but don’t forget your phone charger!).

  • I’d like my own music playlist
  • I’d like the radio – my favourite radio stations are ______ (free text box)
  • I think I’d prefer silence/quiet
  • I’m planning on using a hypnobirthing or meditation track
  • Something else? 

Pain management options

  • I’d like to go with the flow
  • I’d like to use deep breathing and relaxation techniques
  • I’m thinking of using meditation or hypnobirthing techniques
  • I’d like to use up, forward and over positions
  • I’d like to try a TENS machine
  • I’d like gas and air
  • I’m thinking of having a water birth
  • I’m open to trying pethidine
  • I think I’d like an epidural
  • I’d like to use alternative methods of pain management – e.g. aromatherapy, acupuncture, reflexology
  • I’ll need a spinal anaesthetic or general anaesthetic (when you go to sleep) for a C-section
  • Something else? 

Birth positions

You may change your mind, so no need to make a decision yet. However, the ‘up, forward and over’ positions have been shown to decrease the length of time you are in labour by encouraging your baby into a good position for birth and will make you more comfortable too. 

This is a helpful posture as it encourages your baby into the best position for birth - as your bump is up and over!

There are  plenty of things you can lean on or over to get more comfortable. Sometimes standing up and swaying during a contraction can really help.

Lying on your side is a perfect way of resting, whilst allowing your baby to descend through your hips.

Squatting has been shown to reduce the ‘pushing’ part of your birth considerably, but you will need strong leg muscles to keep this position for any length of time!

This is an effective way of opening up your hips to allow baby to move down.

A water birth may allow you to change positions more frequently or with more ease.

Although this position may be comfortable – have a go at the alternatives first as they may help your baby be born a little quicker.

When baby is born

What would you like your first moments with your baby to be like? Would you like some uninterrupted family time? Would you like your partner to be the first person to see the sex of baby? There's many ways you can make your experience special and individual.

If you’ve planned a surprise, this can be a lovely way of sharing the experience with your birth partner.

I would like photos/videos of the birth make sure to talk to your midwife, before the birth, about this option

Make sure to talk to your midwife, before the birth, about this option

Skin to skin

Skin to skin is highly recommended. It helps to regulate baby’s temperature, heart rate and breathing, as well as helping to start their feeding cues, whether you’re breastfeeding or bottle feeding. It can also help you deliver your placenta as the ‘love’ hormone will flow through your body and speed this up.

Birthing the placenta

Delayed cord clamping is routine as well as being recommended - it has been shown to provide many benefits to baby, particularly if born pre-term. This means waiting a minute or more before clamping the cord, as the placenta continues to give the baby blood and oxygen for a little while.

This is an option for low-risk women following a natural labour. It may take a little longer to birth the placenta (any time between a couple of minutes to an hour) and you may need to do some pushing. Studies show that you may lose a little more blood than if you have an injection, which is fine if you’re fit and healthy.

There are two different medications that can be given as an injection, into the top of your leg, once the baby has been born. The medication works by contracting the muscles of your womb to push out the placenta. It often works within 10 minutes, and your midwife will be able to guide the placenta out using the cord. This is often recommended if you’ve had any intervention in your labour e.g. induction or epidural.

Feeding your baby

 

 

This is when you choose to partially breastfeed and partially bottle feed. Before deciding on this option talk it through with your midwife or watch this video from the NHS so you’re clear on whether this is an appropriate choice for you.

Colostrum is the first milk that we produce (sometimes from as early as 12 weeks pregnant) which is full of goodness for baby, including lots of antibodies to help build your baby’s immune system. Some people choose to collect some colostrum before the baby is born to encourage a good milk supply, whereas others may be medically advised to do this for their baby. For example, if you are a diabetic mum, having some breastmilk ready for baby at birth may help to regulate your baby’s blood sugars. It is best to wait until 36 weeks before trying to express any of your milk. You might like to talk to your midwife before making a decision.

Vitamin K for baby

Vitamin K is a vitamin that is naturally produced within us all. It helps to clot blood if we bleed and stops us bleeding too much. In newborns, Vitamin K is offered to prevent a very rare but potentially fatal bleeding disorder caused by a lack of Vitamin K at birth. A Vitamin K injection will significantly reduce the risk of your baby developing blood clotting problems. Giving Vitamin K by mouth (rather than injection) has been shown to be less effective, but it’s more effective than not having any vitamin K.

Talk to your midwife about vitamin K or visit this resource online for more information.

  • I’d like my baby to have Vitamin K via injection (recommended)
  • I’d like my baby to have Vitamin K by mouth
  • I don’t want my baby to be given Vitamin K
  • Something else? 

Any other wishes

  • I’m collecting cord blood for genetic testing or stem cell research
  • I’d like to keep my placenta
  • I have an allergy/reaction to _________ so please don’t offer it to me

 

Anything else?

Use this space for things it will be helpful for your midwife to know

What other wishes do you have that haven’t been covered?

Do you have any additional needs or disabilities that it will be helpful for your midwife to know about?

What would it be helpful for your midwife to do, or not do? For example if you do or don’t like being touched, or using certain words?

Are there any religious customs you’d like observed?

Do let your midwife know what you’d like or need - they can do their best to make sure you have a smooth and relaxed birth.