What is a birth plan and why is it so important?
A birth plan is exactly as it sounds, a plan for how you want your birth to go. It should cover anything that is important to you, things that you are flexible on and things you are not happy to move on. Some people would have you believe that you should just “go with the flow” when giving birth, but they often mean be easy to manage by doctors and other healthcare professionals… which often means more interventions than you may be planning on. There are even some medical professionals who joke about “difficult women” who make birth plans. But don’t let this put you off. Writing a birth plan is an important part of pregnancy and should not be skipped. It will give you time to think about your options and make some decisions, which you may otherwise not have even thought about. So what sort of things need to go into a birth plan

1st Stage Preferences

  • Birthing tools you wish to use: Birthing pool, Birthing Ball, Birthing stool
  • Communication preferences: Do you want to be left undisturbed, would you prefer for medical professionals to talk to your birthing partner, when if at all are they OK to talk to you? What situations?
  • Any focussing tools or pain management: Hypnobirth, water, TENS, breathing techniques, Massage, Yoga, Acupuncture, Rebozo, Music, Aromatherapy, etc
  • Monitoring, for example; Vaginal examination, heartbeat monitoring, etc. Do you want it? Yes, No, depends on the duration of labour, etc.
  • Preferred birthing position: Stood, Squatting, Sat on Birthing Stool, in the Birthing pool, Reclined, or decide what is comfortable at the time
  • Any interventions you are happy with Episiotomy, forceps, ventouse, etc

2nd Stage Preferences

  • Quiet or given information on progress (crowning, head out, etc)
  • No coaching or coaching to push
  • Encouragement wanted
  • Use a mirror or not?
  • First to touch babies head?
  • First to pick up the baby?
  • Birth partner or midwife to announce gender (if required)

3rd Stage Preferences

  • Physiological or managed?
  • Umbilical clamping: Delayed until cord white or until after placenta born? What to clamp with- Own tie, standard or none for lotus?
  • Umbilical cord: How to sever if wanted
  • Placenta: How long do you want to wait for physiological? A set time or as long as it takes unless unsafe, any cord traction?
  • What to do with the placenta afterwards: See my Placenta blog for possible options

After Birth

  • Baby cleaned or left in natural state (benefits of the natural microbiome and vernix mean it’s normally better to leave a baby as born)
  • Immediate skin to skin? This can be done in any birthing situation, even Caesarean
  • Breastfeeding as part of the skin to skin and early moments?
  • Any undisturbed time? This often helps with placenta birthing
  • How do you plan to feed your baby? If in hospital are you happy with any formula being given if required, have you brought any?
  • Vitamin K injection for the baby?

Now that is a big list… Had you thought of everything on there already? Have I missed anything you would add? This is just an overview and I have tried to keep my opinions out of it as this is your birth and you need to feel comfortable to make your own choices on what is right for you. I know there is a lot of detail above, but if anything doesn’t matter to you, just miss it out.


The key to birth plans is to keep them simple, easy to read and have some contingencies ready for if things change. Not everything goes to plan in life, so the more ready you can be for this, the easier it will be if something changes, You know the old saying “plan for the best but prepare for the worst” can be helpful. But I wouldn’t think of it as the worst, just that things are fluid and to react well to this, will help you stay calm and know what you want… For example, if you want a home birth but end up needing a caesarean, you might want to request a gentle caesarean, with skin to skin straight after if possible and the placenta kept. This is just an example but it is important to think about.

I hope you have found this useful. If you find the idea of creating your own birth plan from scratch a little daunting, don’t worry, I have made one that you can use. Just check it out on this link.

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