How To Write A Birth Plan

Thanks everyone for your patience while I was away on holiday in the USA. I had planned to run a blog for Mummy Mondays while I was away, but it just did not work out and I encountered a few internet issues. But the good news is that I’m back in full swing and I have a wonderful post for you today by Lizzie Carroll as part of my ‘How To’ series.  Lizzie is a Cairns based Hypnobirthing Australia Certified Practitioner, childbirth doula, writer and mum.

how to write a birth plan

Steps to writing your own birth plan

Birth planning is something that I am extremely passionate about. But there are so many myths surrounding birth planning. I am often told “Oh, I don’t need a birth plan – my midwife knows what I want” or “I can’t write a birth plan – I’ve never given birth before so I’ll leave it all to the experts” or even “Why write a birth plan – you’ll just be disappointed”.

I’m here to tell you that you CAN write a birth plan! One that will be honoured and will leave you feeling positive, informed and empowered. Because isn’t that what birth should be about? Positive, informed and empowered women moving into motherhood feeling confident in their abilities to make awesome decisions.

Here’s my step by step guide to writing your own (basic) birth plan.

Set a birth goal

What sort of birth do you want? How do you want to feel? Who would you like to have there? What will they say and do? What will be the first thing your baby sees / hears when they are born?

Have a very open chat with your care provider

You need to make sure your care provider is on the same page. Ask them how they will help you achieve your goal. Ask them what their “routine procedures” are so that you can research them and make an informed decision as to whether these will help you achieve your goal.

Get a doula

Or at least a one-off consult. A doula can help you sort all your information and options out so that you can come up with a clear vision of how you are going to achieve your birth goals. So many women just aren’t aware of ALL their options. A doula can help you suss them out.

Get writing!

Make sure you put your birth plan in writing. Be succinct. A basic template for your birth plan could be:

A short paragraph outlining your birth goal and thanking your care providers for helping you achieve your goal.

Active Labour:

Important points to consider: Pain relief options, mobility, vaginal exams, monitoring of baby and augmentation.

Second Stage:

Important points to consider: Note if you don’t want coached or “purple” pushing, mobility and freedom of positioning, episiotomy or tearing or techniques you plan to use to reduce tearing and who will catch the baby.

Third stage and immediate postpartum:

Important points to consider: Physiological or managed third stage, delayed cord clamping, who will cut the cord, baby to be placed on mums chest, newborn observations to be completed while bub is on mum, maintaining the environment, Vitamin K and Hep B shots and if your baby will be breastfed.

And because, as so many people point out to me, birth is unpredictable and sometimes doesn’t go to plan I encourage women to consider their plans B, C and D! It is a great idea to have a plan in mind and a few notes written down for: In case of an induction and in case of a caesarean.

Remember that birth planning isn’t about having a hard and fast plan that can’t be changed – it’s about learning all your options and how to make the decisions that work best for you. Women who have a birth plan are often better able to cope with deviations as they have become well practised in the art of making an informed decision and expressing their desires. So what are you waiting for – get to planning your positive birth!

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Lizzie Carroll

Lizzie Carroll

Lizzie is a Cairns based Hypnobirthing Australia Certified Practitioner, childbirth doula, writer and mum. She is passionate about helping women to discover the tools they need to empower themselves on their journey to motherhood and embrace the transformation with joy and confidence. Lizzie has recently released a new program available via Skype and telephone that is aimed specifically at helping women to plan for their awesome birth.
Ph: 0459 543 514
Lizzie Carroll

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  1. November 23, 2015 / 6:58 am

    Sounds like you had a fabulous holiday! Don’t think I will need a birth plan anytime soon but great tips. I didn’t need a birth plan with mine as I ended up with non-elective C section for the first.

  2. November 23, 2015 / 8:59 am

    My birth plan was basically just a few notes in my phone app – mainly outlining that I wanted to delay cord clamping and that I was keeping my placenta for encapsulation. I think having a rough plan is great, but when people get too tied to their ‘ideal’ birth and things don’t go to plan, it can be quite damaging psychologically.

    • November 24, 2015 / 1:47 pm

      I’m really interested to find out more about placenta encapsulation actually. I know what you mean about plans not going to ‘plan’.

  3. November 23, 2015 / 9:45 am

    My birth plan was a waste of time as the complete opposite happened when I had an emergency c-section. I was so adamant on having a natural drug free birth so when I was pumped to the eye balls with drugs and didn’t even get to attempt to push it screwed me up for weeks. I’m pretty sure it partly contributed to my postnatal depression and it made me feel guilty for weeks. I’d still like to do a vbac if we have more but at least a c-section wont be as traumatic if I have to experience it again.

  4. November 23, 2015 / 9:52 am

    Great post, and welcome back from your holiday!!!

    I can highly recommend hiring a doula. I had a doula for my second baby and it was the best investment we made. Both Dave and I rave about her and how fabulous it was to have her support in the delivery suite and have her advocating on our behalf. She also gave me a really useful template for creating a birth plan (we didn’t call it a plan though, we called it a Birth Preferences Outline). It was more of a “if this happens then these are the options I choose from A, B, C” and it covered everything, including an emergency c-section and who should be in the theatre if that happened, whether or not I would want a spinal or GA if there was time for the choice, etc..

    Basically the template covered every aspect of birth, from positions to pain relief options, to coaching to third stage, and for each thing I selected my A, B & C options, with the final line stating that if anything at all went badly wrong then we would defer to the doctor’s decisions to get the best outcome for both of us. The midwives were really impressed with it, as they could see that I’d thought about everything, so when things did go awry (which they often do), we didn’t have to waste time discussing & explaining the options and what I wanted to do, they were able to just work down the list because we’d covered everything.

    For instance, they knew that my choice, if everything had gone smoothly was to have a physiological third stage, but that if there was a PPH (which there was) that I consented to the different options of treatment and deferred to their knowledge for the best course of action. This was a really good thing to have covered with my doula and Dave and the midwives, because it meant when I was passing out from blood loss they were able to make decisions because they didn’t have to stand there and explain everything to me. Baby went to Dave for skin-to-skin and bonding rather than the nursery, and my Doula supported me so that Dave could look after the baby.

    If we were ever to have another baby my first call would be to my Doula to book her services once more. After giving birth with and without a doula at my side I would choose to have a Doula with me every time, they are the best!

  5. November 23, 2015 / 11:11 am

    I didn’t have much of a birth plan with either of my kids, and i have to be honest I really hope I never require another one 🙂 Great advice here though. xx

    • November 24, 2015 / 1:44 pm

      No, neither did I and even if I did, I’m not sure if it would have been the same considering Elliott came 4 weeks early!

  6. November 23, 2015 / 2:14 pm

    I am so glad the whole birthing business is behind me! My first and only ‘normal’ delivery was a complete car accident type thing that saw us both endure 14 months of physiotherapy. There was nothing normal about my daughter’s shoulder dystocia delivery – forceps, vacuum, miles of stitches and blood transfusions. Nope – I opted for five c-sections after that and don’t regret that for a minute! Six healthy kids later and I am content as can be!
    Hope your holiday was great Eva!

  7. November 24, 2015 / 3:09 am

    All three of my birth plans went out the window. HELLP syndrome with my second and third which resulted in my girls arriving 5 & 10 weeks early. My first labour was only 3 hours long, it all happened so quickly that I barely had time to think. The second was just 30 minutes and the third (only 5 hours) was completely out of my control.