The four-word birth plan

You’d think that at 40+5, my birth plan would be complete; signed and sealed if not yet delivered. However, going past my due date has given me some time to give it some more detailed consideration.

The essence of my birth plan is four words: get the baby out.

I’m well aware that birth does not generally go to plan. I don’t mean that in a negative way: just that it’s impossible to know when, how, what and where labour is going to take place. I’m a great believer that thinking about something too much in advance of it actually happening usually leads to disappointment.

And yet, I am an organised soul; there’s no getting away from that. Yes; I’m the person who completed an audit of all wedding-related decor two weeks before the wedding, just because I couldn’t handle not having an itemised, numbered list of everything along with labelled boxes.

So alongside my unusually laid back birth plan, there is of course a little more detail:

  • minimal pain relief (if I can cope)
  • water birth if possible
  • encourage active labour
  • skin to skin after birth
  • wait until umbilical cord has stopped pulsating before cutting
  • husband to cut the cord and announce gender
  • yes to vitamin K injection and injection for third stage

These all seem like fairly arbitrary things to me though: over the past week or so, since I actually filled in the birth plan section in my maternity notes, I keep thinking that I’m missing something. Should I be more specific and add more detail? For instance, to keep active, I’d like my husband and the midwife to prompt me to change position when possible and necessary. But I’ve presumed that they will do that anyway and have discussed plans with my husband, so he’ll know to prompt this. I’d like to try and get the baby to latch ASAP on after delivery – but again, that seems to be something that will happen if possible anyway.

As I’m hoping to have the baby in our local midwife-led birth centre, I’m assuming that the less medicalised, more patient-centric approach will encourage my wishes as part of their ethos. But are these details that are worth spelling out? And does the birth plan even get more than a cursory glance in the delivery room anyway? Any thoughts and experiences are very welcome.

6 thoughts on “The four-word birth plan

  1. It might be worth putting those things on (if there is space on the page -it seemed too small to me!) -what seems obvious to you may not be to the midwife and if you have a shift change while you’re in active labour you might not want to have to explain it to the new one… eeeep this is ever so exciting x

  2. Not having had the opportunity to write my birth plan before my first delivery-day I echo your thoughts – would writing it down even have made a difference?? I’d explained my preferences to my partner and was able to express my desired approach to the midwives when I arrived at the birth centre… Up until I hit second stage and lost my ability to speak in rational/coherent sentences!

    If I were to have a second, my birth plan would be detailed and heavily based in my experiences from my first – and therein lies the stumbling block for first time mum’s! How do you plan for something you’ve had no experience of?!

    And so I agree that your birth plan, first time around, is likely to be more of a vague wish list, just as you’ve written.

    Some things I would be specific about on my second time around birth plan (should there be a need for one), there may be something here for you explain to hubby and/or add to your plan:
    – environment to be dimly lit, warm & quiet, only necessary staff, sorry no students.
    – music to be played, husband will arrange
    – Minimal electronic fetal monitoring, using a mobile unit if available (I might ask in advance if they have one to manage my expectations). Monitoring in the pool by handheld Doppler preferable.
    – no vaginal examinations, use other methods of establishing the stage of labour
    – only natural methods of induction to be used (walking, nipple stimulation etc) unless chemical induction is 100% necessary
    – midwives not to ask me to lie on my back at any point.
    – I would like to be upright/on hands and knees for second stage
    – no injection for 3rd stage
    – vit k drops instead of jab if possible
    – no chemical pain relief to be offered, I know the options and will ask if I feel it is necessary
    – water in the pool to be as warm as possible for pain relief purposes
    – midwives to encourage me to breath baby down, no directed pushing
    – no episiotomy unless absolutely necessary, would prefer to tear rather than be cut (not the nicest thing to have to think about but it if it comes up you will be in second stage and not in a rational decision making frame of mind)
    – if c-section is necessary, I would like to stay awake, have husband with me and for him to announce gender. immediate skin to skin unless baby needs medical attention.
    – would/wouldn’t like to see baby using mirror, also partners preference (I only include this because first time I was keen to see, Sean not so much!)
    – Midwife/partner to encourage me to pick baby up from the water myself
    – observations to be made with baby on my chest, routine tests to be delayed until after first feed (unless of course medical attention is more urgently needed)
    – vernix to be left to absorb, baby should not be rubbed down or scrubbed with towels
    – no bath at the birth centre, we will do this at home
    – baby to be weighed on side or front where possible
    – baby to be left on chest, not dressed until we are ready, inc hats
    – I would like to be discharged as soon as possible.
    – I intend to breastfeed and baby is not to be given absolutely no artificial nipples. If latch problems occur, I would like assistance hand expressing and feeding baby my colustrum using a spoon/cup/syringe. No formula supplementation without me first having spoken to the unit’s lactation consultant or head of midwives.
    I might also find out the lactation consultants contact details/working hours in advance in case there was a need for help beyond the shift midwives.

    I absolutely agree with Katy – shift change would be the reason I would have it written down, and for hubby to insist they read/follow the plan if they were to only give it a cursory glance.
    Sorry for ‘essay-comment’, hope there’s something in there of use!

    • Yes, you’ve hit the nail on the head there D – impossible to plan fully for something you’ve never gone through before. Thanks for all of your points – going to go back and add a bit more detail to mine to ensure that nothing obvious is missed out xx

  3. Hello lovely.

    Your birth plan is really similar to mine. Well, I didn’t actually write anything down so it wasn’t a plan as such but I was quite pragmatic about the whole thing. I trusted my midwives and went with their suggestions, but then they didn’t suggest anything that I was massively opposed to.

    I managed to get to 10cms dilated at home on 4 paracetamol so when I got to the birthing centre it was a case of “There’s the head, let’s go” so nobody mentioned a birth plan to me and neither was I in a position to tell anyone what I wanted to do. I was too terrified to think rationally!

    I’m no expert obviously so my advice probably doesn’t mean much but all I would say is try to listen to what your body is telling you. I called the unit a few times and each time they were lovely but said there was no point me coming in until my contractions were closer together. In the end I decided I was going in regardless and, like I said, I was fully dilated and had been feeling the urge to push for about 30 minutes.

    You will know what to do when the time comes.



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