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5 October 2020

Your birth plan

Writing a birth plan gives midwives, doctors and your birth partner a clear idea of what’s important to you – during labour, birth and in the first few hours with your baby. We provide everything you need to get your birth plan ready.

What is a birth plan?

A birth plan outlines what you want to happen during the different stages of labour, through to the first hours with your newborn. The aim is to let the team taking care of you know what your ideal birth looks like, so they can work towards it while giving you the care you need.

In a recent study, the NCT suggested that birth plans help midwives to quickly establish rapport with the women they are caring for in a very short period of time.

Whether it’s a written guide, or a few principles that you have discussed with your midwife, a birth plan is about feeling prepared for what’s to come.

While it might not be the case that everything will go as planned, it’s your right to express your preferences and to discuss them with the team taking care of you.

Think of your birth plan as a rough guide that provides an overview of what you would prefer to happen. It’s a good idea to include details of what you want to happen if circumstances change.

If you plan for a home birth, for example, you might need to be transferred to a labour ward, or if you plan for a vaginal birth you might end up needing a caesarean section.

If you’ve already considered these outcomes, you’re likely to feel more prepared as things happen, even if you don’t get the birth you had imagined.

Watch independent midwife Pauline Cooke explain why planning your birth matters:

Coronavirus and your birth plan

An RCOG (Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) spokesperson says: ‘Having a birth plan during pregnancy is an important factor in helping women prepare for labour and ensuring maternity staff can support women and their babies in the best way possible.

‘The coronavirus pandemic does not change the importance of this, and women are still being encouraged to create a birth plan with their maternity team in the usual way.

‘Maternity services continue to work tirelessly to ensure that women’s choices are respected but it is important to know that some options – like a home birth – may temporarily not be available in certain parts of the country while units navigate the pandemic and continue to prioritise keeping women and their babies safe.

‘This will be communicated at the earliest possible opportunity and suitable alternatives and advice offered.’

Page last updated 03/06/20. Please check the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists website for the latest updates.