Would you like to be on Mumsnet's research panel? We're especially keen for parents-to-be and new parents to join. You can sign up here - there's (nearly) always a great incentive on offer for your views.

Birth plan basics

(37 Posts)
photographerlady Sat 30-Mar-13 10:00:53

Hi, first pregnancy and have a basic birth plan question. When do you start putting one together? Is it something discussed at midwife appointments? If so when? Did you find that the hospital took the time to read them?

MiaowTheCat Sat 30-Mar-13 10:21:23

Wrote mine sat with contractions (was in and out of threatened labour for a week and a half)... no one discussed it with me - I just wrote a list of things I was bricking it about in the light of a previous crap delivery.

Hospital actually (I wasn't expecting them to take it seriously) were incredibly respectful of it all - mind you none of it was of the "I want whale music and candle light and a choir singing as the baby emerges" level stuff... it was things like warning them of completely random things I knew would trigger flashbacks, a request to be very careful with spinal blocks and pulling my legs too far apart as I'd had fucking awful SPD (they handled my poor wrecked pelvis like it was made of glass when they had to numb me up for a manual removal), and one comment about please for the love of god tell me what sex the baby is this time as last time they whipped her off to NICU and no one bothered to tell me it was a she!

MortifiedAdams Sat 30-Mar-13 10:33:31

Just write what is and isnt important to you. I had the following on.mine:
*student.midwives welcome
*only dh as my birthing partner
*dh to tell.me the gender of the baby
*only intervene if necessary
*dont have me lay on my back being monitored all day
*explain everything to us in detail so we know exactly whats going on at every stage

And a couple of other things I.cant remember. I then highlighted points 3 & 6 of above as if all else I wanted those stuck to.

My.MW read and followed my.notes to the letter, especially the highlighted.ones. I ended up in surgery about to have CS but had forceps instead and all those.docs.and.MWs around could hear her instructing everyone.not.to let slip what gender baby was as DH needed to do that.

I would keep your plan very very simple and keep an open mind. Do not have your heart set on a particular thing in case it doesn't happen. I desperately wanted a water birth and couldn't have one in the end. I wax so disappointed.

It's really important hour birth partner knows what you want so they can't tell/remind the midwives. Chances are they won't all see your written down plan, but your partner can tell each midwife as necessary.

soupmaker Sat 30-Mar-13 11:07:58

My birth plan was similar to Mortified. Concentrate on the things that will really, really matter to you. I've seen birth plans which include the music to be played during the event and what is to be worn whilst in the birthing pool! Being very specific about what you want can easily lead to disappointment. This time my plan will basically be tell us everything, the less drugs the better, I'd prefer not to be on my back at any point, in the event of me not being able to make decisions refer to DH.

Good luck.

WestieMamma Sat 30-Mar-13 11:08:10

Mine is more a 'DON'T ...' list of things that will completely freak me out and bring on a meltdown (I have AS). Eg:

- Don't touch me unless it's essential and comes with advance warning.
- Don't talk to me unless it's essential and then be blunt and to the point as I won't be able to filter out what is important.

Beyond the essential list of DON'Ts, they can pretty much do as they see fit.

ThedementedPenguin Sat 30-Mar-13 11:45:27

My birth plan consisted of:

No forceps.

Anything else I was open to smile

BumbleBee2011 Sat 30-Mar-13 12:01:38

Mine was done at 34 weeks with DD, with a midwife. Think it just said things like "water birth pls" and yes to anti-K injection, don't think there was anything else (was booked in at a birth centre so pain relief was relatively limited as a topic).

This time with DD2 will probably have more info based on things I've learned about since (eg will ask for the cord to not be cut for 2 mins at least), but it's more of a wish list, in some circumstances things aren't in your control anyway.

MamaBlue4 Sat 30-Mar-13 12:21:18

I did mine around the 12 week mark, and had the in a folder for it. A few of my main ones were:

*If boys, no circumcision wanted.
*Baby to remain with mother at all times - except medical reasons etc.
*Cord to be cut by father.
*Baby given straight to me before cleaning and weighing.
*The minimum amount of doctor/nurses in room.
*DH birthing partner only.
*Water birth or in knelt position. On back as a last resort.
*Do not touch me during contractions and strapped constantly to machines.
*No intervention i.e forceps unless absolutely necessary.

I had a few pages and went into loads of detail. Haha.

MamaBlue4 Sat 30-Mar-13 12:23:13

Also another big one was
*No medication - even if I beg. I want an all natural birth.

noblegiraffe Sat 30-Mar-13 12:35:35

I don't think anyone even looked at my birth plan in the end, so don't set your heart on anything and be prepared to be flexible. You might not end up with a sniff of a water birth, let alone have the right music playing. And being hooked up to monitoring is good if there is a potential problem - it flagged up that my DS was in distress and a quick EMCS later he was resuscitated and fine. Had I been adamant about no monitoring, things might have been different.
You will be asked if you want baby to have the vitamin k injection so think about that beforehand.

lotsofcheese Sat 30-Mar-13 12:36:59

I don't have a birth plan this time & didn't for DS either. I have long accepted that these things are often beyond our control & have let go of the concept of being in control. But then I'm having a high-risk pregnancy & have a very different perspective.

My motto is "baby out safely". And DP to find out what "variety" we've got. Beyond that, nothing.

Thumbwitch Sat 30-Mar-13 12:44:35

I think I was given the form for the birth plan at my booking appointment and left to fill it in as and when.

I only had 3 things on it for DS1 and it still didn't go to plan:
1) Be on my feet as long as possible (couldn't manage it, my legs "went" quite early on in the induction and I couldn't stand, let alone walk)
2) Be allowed to use my hypnobirthing CD and breathing - couldn't remember it or bother myself to put the CD Player on.
3) Have baby cleaned up before he was plonked on me - this did happen.

For DS2, I wanted things to go as well as they had for DS1 - so minimal intervention. Ha.
1) No spinal/epidural - missed this by the skin of my teeth as DS2 got stuck on the anterior lip and they were just putting me on my back to ultrasound him to find out where he was before taking me to theatre when he dropped clear of the obstruction and shot out.
2) No syntocin drip - failed in this because I had polyhydramnios and unstable lie, so the drip was required to bring on contractions to force DS2 to stay put after he'd been turned
3) No ECV (turning baby in utero) - but it was done under close supervision with theatre right next door if anything went wrong - and it was either ECV or CS, so I chose ECV to start with.
4) no early induction without REALLY good reason - they wanted to induce me at 38w (DS1 had been induced at 42w) but I hung out until 39w, and DS2 was born at 39+3. Good reason was my age and risk of placental disintegration.

Still very lucky that things went as well as they did for me, I have to say. smile

minicc Sat 30-Mar-13 12:57:28

We had planned a home birth so mine was very short -vit k, natural 3rd stage etc. I ended up in theatre with forceps. BUT everyone took one look at the first line that said "we are hoping for a home birth" and left me alone as much as possible. I'm glad I did it as it set the tone for everything and meant they didn't have to keep asking me about stuff. Good luck!

MamaBlue4 Sat 30-Mar-13 13:45:44

My birthing plan wasn't put to work during PG1 as he was unplanned home birth, PG2 was a home birth but most of birth plan was rearranged to suit that. PG3 twins birth plan was followed through to the letter at the private hospital. V. Impressed.

Msbluesky32 Sat 30-Mar-13 16:33:58

I started making a list of preferences as soon as I started reading up on the process, as I found it easier to write things as I went so I didn't forget. I don't think it matters when you start - its up to you, whatever works best. You might not want to do one at all. There are some useful templates online that could help. I'd advise calling it 'birth preferences' rather than 'birth plan' though. It's a small thing but it has made me think differently about what to expect...ie baby could have a very different idea on the day and my lovely 'plan' might be a complete shambles!

exoticfruits Sat 30-Mar-13 19:39:29

I could never see the point - it was all new to me so how could I possibly know what I wanted? confused
I had 3 children in 3 different hospitals, 3 completely natural births and not a single birth plan. I just discussed it as I went along.

exoticfruits Sat 30-Mar-13 19:47:56

It isn't like planning other events- the baby hasn't read it and it may be totally unexpected. If you have set ideas then you can be disappointed.

DrSeuss Sat 30-Mar-13 20:15:14

DS had a birth plan so detailed that even the community midwife asked my sources for some info! I even specified the type of cut to be used for an epistiotomy.
He arrived in 7.5 hours, gas and air, water birth, just as planned.
Friend with first baby had similar plans but the baby would have died without major intervention. She had to have major repairs in theatre.
DD had no birth plan as I told the midwife it would be what it would be. She arrived in 5.5 hours, gas and air.
The moral? Like Nike, just do it!

CheshireDing Sat 30-Mar-13 20:32:02

Just write your plan in good time grin

We did Hypnobirthing with pfb and we wrote the plan with her and typed it up on different coloured paper (so it was easy to find in the pack) and laminated it (in case it got gunk on it!)

Yes they do read it, and they certainly should too. Write it but also be realistic that things may have to change.

I put mine together slowly from about 5months onwards - it was written for a home birth but we ended up in hospital as DS came early.
The midwife did read it, and had no need to discuss anything further with us as I had a pretty straightforward birth in the end.
But bloody hell, re-reading it now it looks a bit PFB! blush I worded it badly.

It wasn't a rigid plan tho, more like a list of preferences:
The only thing I was 100% sure I didn't want was Pethidine (several anaesthetist friends advised against it's use)
Explain procedures to DH
Not breaking my waters artificially
Wanting to move around during labour
Baby to go straight on my chest
DH to cut cord after it stopped pulsing.

Plus a loads of other paragraphs of guff - I wrote it in a very officey fashion, it didn't need all that long-windedness.

Next time around will be so much simpler!

MamaBear17 Sat 30-Mar-13 20:58:55

I didn't write one. I was in slow labour for a week before I went into proper labour. My sweep caused me to bleed so I went to hospital to be assessed and they found my blood pressure to be dangerously high. All of a sudden I was booked in for an induction and strapped to machines being monitored. I went into natural labour before they could induce me but my baby got into distress and I was warned I might have to have a C-Section. I took the midwife's advice and had an epidural as I wasn't dilating and they needed to intervene, firstly with a hormone to try and get me dilating, and then possibly a c-sec if it didnt work. My contractions had been coming every minute for about 4 hours and I was strapped to a bed being monitored so couldn't move, the epidural was a lifesaver. However, I didn't want to not feel anything at all so I asked for a low dose and only topped up every hour. I could still move my legs and feel my contractions. My midwife guided me through everything and I basically did as I was told. Thanks to her, I avoided a C-Section and gave birth naturally to a beautiful baby girl. During the final stages my midwife turned off the main lights and just had wall lights on so it was lovely and dark. She asked if we knew the sex and if daddy wanted to tell me (he did - that was beyond wonderful) and if he wanted to cut the cord, which he did.
I did not know what to expect with labour. I wanted a natural water birth, my complications meant that this was not possible. I just went with the flow and loved my labour experience. I agree with the posters above who say that you should highlight what you do not want, but the rest you can communicate verbally. I very much advise going with the flow as an approach for a first time mum. Research everything before hand, have an idea of what you want, but make your decisions on the day. Good luck, it is brilliant!

The midwife always discussed it with me at every appointment, and asked if there was anything I wanted in it.

After 39 weeks, the only thing was 'I want my partner there'. That was it.

She did ask me a couple of other things during labour that could've gone in it, like did I want the baby to have a vitamin K injection, did I want an injection to help speed up the delivery of the placenta etc.

I decided not to write a very detailed plan because I know that birth is unpredictable and I did not want to be dissapointed if the birth didn't match my 'plan'. I know that women can feel like they have 'failed' if they don't have the natural, drug-free birth they had in their plan. I decided not to have any expectations of what would or wouldn't happen so I would never feel like I failed.

If you definitely DON'T want something (like vaginal examinations) I think it's important to put it in there.

Sunshinewithshowers Sat 30-Mar-13 21:11:41

Im 36 weeks with first baby & I asked my midwife on Thursday If I should do one!

Im not sure what to put really, It wont be much.

I just want to get in & get home asap.

<hopeful>

scriptbunny Sat 30-Mar-13 21:57:53

I wrote mine thinking 'what if someone has to read this and digest it really fast?', so it covered one side of A4, with lots of double-spacing. I took about 5 copies into hospital with me. One was for my DH, which turned out to be quite important. At the time I wasn't really sure if it was necessary, but as one thing led to another I ended up having a C-section under general anaesthetic. When they were putting me under my last thought was about the birth plan and the fact that the decisions we'd made about Vitamin K (for example) were all down in black and white and things would happen as I wanted them to happen (as much as they could) while I was unconscious.. DH was obviously a bit panic-y while all this was going down, so having our list of wishes and decisions was comforting for him too. He could focus on the here and now without having to try to remember a conversation we'd have a month ago, that all felt a bit theoretical at the time.

NaturalBlondeYeahRight Sat 30-Mar-13 22:10:55

I would keep it short and sweet too. Just the things that you really hope for/really would like to avoid. I wanted baby straight on to chest for bf with mine, er I think that was it.... [rubbish plan]
Be flexible and don't forget first babies usually arrive quite slowly, time to change your mind if you want.

Lavenderhoney Sun 31-Mar-13 05:37:01

My Mw told me first time round that the birth plan was to ensure you knew what to expect and what might happen. She said even if you wanted a water birth it might be occupied so do another birth plan for that, and one for a cs.

No one looked at mine, and we just decided as we went along- well dh did as I was out of it mostly and in no state to decide. The most important thing for me is your birth partner knows what you want, what can go wrong and what decisions to make. My dh saved my life by requesting a 2nd opinion on a procedure as he knew from reading up the risks involved. - the original surgeon has since been disciplined and is not practising.

Dh told the Mw in the labour room stuff like he wanted to tell me the sex, bf ASAP etc.

I had my 2nd abroad and I had " the baby is not hospital property" across the top of every page. In the UK, you are encouraged and expected to have your newborn with you, bf etc. where I was, they like to whisk them away for " tests" bathing, and bottle feeding, plus baby stays in nursery. We had to change hospitals at one point as they flat refused to allow the newborn when it arrived in the room with me, even if it was perfectly healthy, even though I planned bf.

tomatoplantproject Sun 31-Mar-13 07:54:27

I wrote mine at about 36 weeks. I spent hours thinking it through and writing it perfectly. It went out the window when my waters broke with meconium in them, and we discovered in due course dd was breech. It never even got looked at. I think the process of writing it was good for me getting my head around what would happen <clutches at straws>. None of my carefully packed hospital bag was used either and I wish I'd been a bit more prepared for a couple of nights in the hospital.

My birth plan was actually written by DH.

I'd like to arrive at hospital with my wife in labour.

And bring her home at some point after with a baby.

The end!

grin

lilmamma Sun 31-Mar-13 09:06:37

I never did one, just went with whatever was happening at the time, and if i needed anything i asked smile I think at the end of the day, they know what they are doing, and so let them get on with it smile

Thumbwitch Sun 31-Mar-13 09:08:40

I think it is important to have found out about things like the baby having the vit K injection (helps prevent haemorrhage in the baby) and having the injection to release the placenta because you often just aren't in a sufficiently compos mentis state to answer the question when they ask it of you!

I had both - DSs having vit K for me was very important, as I had been anti-coagulated throughout pg and although it shouldn't have affected the baby at all, it was still a concern and a risk I didn't want to take.
The placental release - I had a friend who had given birth in the pool, lovely birth, all went well but then took over an hour to deliver her placenta naturally, all the time holding her baby above the water, which was hard work because it was a short cord and in the end she had to get out of the water anyway because it wasn't happening and the water was getting cold - too much faff. Once you've got the baby, IME you just want it all to be over and the placental release jab sorted that for me.

For my plan, these questions were asked specifically - also a question about whether or not I wanted the baby to have the BCG vaccine (London area) - and then there was a space to write down anything not covered by the specific questions. This was very helpful.

BlueyDragon Sun 31-Mar-13 09:38:18

My first one was a bit verbose (although not of the music and candles variety). In the end the most valuable thing was DH knowing what I wanted because I was out of it (long second stage, ventouse delivery).

Second time round it had on it the bullet points of what mattered to me
- Minimal drugs
- Pool please
- Let me move where/how I want
- I may say I want to push and not mean it as I just want to get it over with
- Vitamin K yes please
- Natural third stage
- I reserve the right to change my mind on any/all of the above

I only changed my mind about the third stage, and the birth was not in the pool as DS was too comfy I may have commented quite loudly that I was going to give birth in the corridor as I got out, causing several midwife sniggers. But otherwise a much better experience than DD. Again having DH well briefed was important, especially on the pushing point.

I think for next time (when OH lets me get pregnant again....) I'll put

- Yes to vitamin K injection for baby
- Would like the cord to have stopped pulsing before being cut (so baby gets lots of lovely placenta blood)
- Would like to labour in the pool please.
- Skin to skin and attempt to BF straight away
- Have OH present at all times.
- Try and avoid pethidine if possible (last time it made the baby very sleepy, and as a result he didn't feed for about 6 hours).
- Go home as soon as possible.

HandMini Sun 31-Mar-13 15:47:29

If you feel strongly about a certain type of pain relief (lots of people do / don't want an epidural)' write that down. When you're five cm dilated and in pain, you don't want a midwife starting from scratch with all the pros and cons if you've already discussed / read up on the subject.

I think something like "I have discussed pain relief with midwives at ante natal appointments and would like X" saves a bit if faring when it matters.

HandMini Sun 31-Mar-13 15:47:54

Sorry, "saves a bit of faffing when it matters"

ButteryJam Sun 31-Mar-13 16:40:32

If you don't know where to start, this online birth plan at NHS Choices is a good place.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now