What is a birth plan and do you need one?

When you are pregnant you may find people suggest you write a ‘birth plan’. This will list all your wants, your desires and plans for your perfect birth. It may list ‘no drugs’ or ‘water birth’, it may specify ‘husband to be present through out’ or ‘don’t let my mother in!’. Your wishes and desires from the extremely medical ‘I do not with for an epidural’ or ‘I do not want an episiotomy’ to the weird and wonderful ‘I would prefer only blue towels if my baby is a boy’, will be written out and probably discussed with your midwife or healthcare provider. Your midwife will probably have input and suggestions too, mine pointed out things I’d added that were irrelevant as they were not done in the UK any way (I grabbed a birth plan template online and as we know, the ‘net is American!) and then finally the master plan is complete. You can rest easy knowing all is prepared…..

I was lucky, I followed my birth plan, nothing went wrong, nothing deviated from my plan, hubby was pleased as he found that when he was asked (as I was, but I was shouting just get the f*cking baby out!) whether a student could come and witness the birth of our daughter, he could confidently say ‘No, we did specify no students on the birth plan’ he was happy with what I wanted as was able to act on my behalf when all I could do was grunt or swear. ( I had a water birth if you are interested, with a tens machine to start with, before the water! And then gas and air as my only pain relief! Go me!! Haha)

baby in hospital crib

But not all women are so lucky, maybe you asked for a ‘natural birth’ but when the pain kicked in you knew you wanted an epidural, maybe you’d longed for a vaginal birth in a dimly lit room to music, but ended up with a caesarean in a brightly lit theatre (operating theatre obviously – unless you’re a real show off) well don’t despair…

I like to compare the birth plan to a journey plan. If you take a trip you check the map, you look at the best routes, if the journey is long you may plan stops at service stations, or decide to take your own sandwiches. You may write down the major road and towns you will pass through, and then you set off! But oh no! traffic is terrible, you need to divert as the motorway is blocked! The dog weed on the sandwiches so you need an unscheduled stop at a Burger King, and then you realise you pass near a lovely castle and make a detour to see it. At the end of the journey you arrive.

The birth plan and the journey plan are the same, they are a plan, not a blueprint, a plan, a hope for what you would like to happen, it maybe the journey (or the birth ) is different to the plan, maybe worse due to long delays or better due to the detour to look at a view but the end of the journey is reached and you have a baby…..(did I get muddled some where there?)

Don’t feel bad that the M4 was closed at junction 12, or that the birthing pool was in use by another mum, it just happens, plans change. The important thing is you planned and then you got where you needed to go, by the most appropriate method available.

Did you have a birth plan? Did you stick to it? Would you have one again? (I know I would)

mother looking at baby
NHS Choices have a Birthplan template - Click here to see it, and answer the questions. It creates a printable form. It's long, but there are lots of things to consider!

Maternity network have a nice natural birthplan here.

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