Your birth partner(s)
Having one or two birth partners present during labour is another key point to specify when writing a birth plan. This could be the father, a close relative, friend or a private healthcare professional such as a doula. While the decision is up to you in most cases, it’s worth checking the policy on birth partners being present if you plan to give birth in a hospital or midwifery unit.
In the event that you need a little extra help using forceps, ventouse delivery or caesarean section, you can also request your birth partner to leave the room.
When thinking about how you would like to give birth, you may find that items such as wall bars, mats or beanbags will help to change position and improve comfort. These types of equipment are more common at midwifery unit and at home births, but your midwife will be able to tell you what’s normally available and whether you could provide your own equipment.
Here are some birth equipment ideas to include in your birth plan:
Your choice of pain relief is usually down to personal preference, but it’s best to speak with your midwife or GP about options and what is best for you.
You can use a number of pain relief methods at different stages of labour; some women use a combination of methods. Pain relief examples to include in your birth plan include:
Birth positions and movement during labour
It can help your midwife and birth partner to know which birth positions you would be comfortable with, so this is another point worth including in your birth plan.Carefully changing positions and moving around can improve your experience in labour, by speeding up the process and reducing the risk of needing an epidural or caesarean.
You can research some of the best birth positions here.
An increasingly popular request at birth is private stem cell banking. This is where a small sample of stem cells are taken from the umbilical cord blood after birth, then frozen in a stem cell bank specifically for your child. Cord blood stem cells can be collected safely alongside delayed cord clamping, and are proven to treat over 85 diseases and conditions.
Delayed cord clamping is recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to prevent iron-deficiency anaemia and provide your baby with the blood cells and nutrients they need for healthy development. To achieve this, the umbilical cord should be clamped no earlier than one minute after birth and once the cord has stopped pulsating.
An increasing number of mothers are also choosing placental encapsulation after their baby has been delivered. This is the practice of ingesting the placenta after it has been steamed, dehydrated, ground, and placed into pills, believed to impart numerous health benefits. You can still opt for cord blood stem cell banking alongside placental encapsulation.
While this page covers the most immediate considerations for writing a birth plan, there are some you may have missed that are equally important.
Have you thought about baby monitoring during labour? Your midwife can regularly check that your baby is happy and healthy using a Pinard stethoscope, doppler, electronic foetal monitoring (EFM) or telemetry.
What about skin-to-skin contact? You could have your baby lifted straight onto you before the cord is cut, or ask the midwife to wipe your baby and wrap him/her in a blanket first.
When it comes to personal safety, it’s worth considering the possibility of an episiotomy if birth becomes difficult, and a Syntometrine® injection to prevent heavy bleeding after delivering the baby. It is advised to discuss these options with your midwife or GP, to determine whether they should be a necessary part of your birth plan.