Birth Preferences Template
You don’t have to write a birth plan, but many people choose to. You can follow a template such as the NHS one which is available online, or create your own. Your midwife may give you one or a template may be in your handheld notes.
It can be helpful to devise your birth plan / birth preference sheet with your birth partner so he or she is aware of your hopes and wishes. During the active phase of labour when surges are at their most powerful you may not want to talk, so if your partner is aware of you want it can help you to focus only on yourself.
Some may say ‘What’s the point of writing a birth plan, it all goes out the window anyway?’ – but why would you not plan for the biggest, most important thing you will ever do? You plan for a holiday or a wedding, why not a birth?
Yes, birth can be unpredictable, which is why planning for every eventuality can be useful. Once you have written your birth plan, put aside any concerns and spend time and effort focusing on the birth you want and not on the ‘what ifs’. If the ‘what ifs’ happen, you will have prepared for them and thought about what you would want in that situation, which afterwards can help you feel more at peace with how things went.
Ideas to think about for your birth plan
If you have practised using hypnobirthing you can put a short section at the front of the birth plan mentioning this.
You can then add in some or all of the following, as you see fit. Using bullet points and keeping it to one page is helpful. Bring along several copies.
- I’m keen to stay ‘in my zone’ as much as possible. Please can you direct any questions to my birth partner initially.
- Unless there is a medical indication we would prefer to allow our birth to take its time.
- I would like a dimly-lit, quiet environment and want to give birth at home/on the midwife-led unit/on the labour ward.
- Please don’t offer me pain relief. If I want it I will ask for it. OR, my pain relief options are, in order of preference (list your preferences).
- I want to be encouraged to keep gently active and use equipment like a birth ball, birth stool or bean bags.
- In the absence of a medical emergency, please do not offer coached pushing at the second stage. I want to follow my body’s lead to birth my baby.
- Please can we talk about the use of a warm compress for the second stage.
- I would/would not like student midwives or doctors in with me.
- I would not like any vaginal examinations (remember you can always change your mind about this, or anything else!) OR, I would like just one initial assessment, OR I am happy to have regular examinations.
- I would like to try the birth pool.
- If my baby’s heart rate is reassuring and it is appropriate, I would like to be intermittently monitored so I can move freely.
- I would prefer not to be disturbed when in active labour – please feel free to do any checks such as taking my blood pressure or temperature without asking me.
- I would like my baby lifted straight on to my tummy/to have skin-to-skin right away OR I would like my partner to hold our baby for a few moments first
- If there is no medical emergency, we’d like time together after the birth and for any checks and weighing to wait.
- I would/would not like my baby cleaned before he is given to me.
- I would like a physiological third stage OR I want active management. My partner would / would not like to cut the cord.
- I would like help with breastfeeding right away.
- We would like/not like our baby to have Vitamin K (injection or orally?).
- If my baby needs to be moved away from me I would like my partner to stay with him/her.
In the event of an induction of labour, I would like:
- To keep as active as possible and not be on the bed.
- To discuss intermittent monitoring, if appropriate.
- To keep the lights low and interruption to a minimum.
- To try without an epidural OR I would like an epidural.
- If my baby has to go to SCBU (special care baby unit), I want my partner to stay with him/her.
In the event of an unplanned caesarean birth, if possible, I would like:
- Uninterrupted skin-to-skin right away.
- To find out our baby’s gender ourselves.
- To have the curtain lowered at the time of birth.
- To have our own music played.
- To bring our camera in for first pictures.
- If my baby has to go to SCBU, I want my partner to stay with him/her.
Thank you very much for taking care of me during my baby’s birth!
A reminder of things to consider in advance
- Whether or not you will consent to a membranes sweep.
- Your thoughts on your ‘due date’ – do you need to book in a chat with someone senior such as a supervisor of midwives to personalise your plans?
- Do you need to think about a second birth partner/doula?
- Your thoughts on vaginal examinations during a straightforward birth
- Monitoring – what options are available to you?
- Whether or not you agree to having your waters broken during labour – this may only shave off around 1 hour off your labour, but it will make the surges feel stronger and more painful.
- A quiet, dimly-lit environment where you will feel safe – remember external dictates internal and labour progresses best when you feel safe, secure and not unduly interrupted.
- Keeping active and off the bed – if you practice your positions in advance you are more likely to use them on the day.
If in doubt and if there is time (i.e. it’s not an emergency situation!) you may like to use the questioning tool ‘BRAIN’ – see more on this here.
For more information on hypnobirthing Crystal Palace, Brixton and at Kingston hospital drop me an email or call 07790 207363.