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How To: Write Your Birth Preferences

Updated: Jun 8, 2019

Birth plans are becoming more and more popular, it is wonderful. The problem is, many healthcare professionals (AKA midwives and doctors) think they are nonsense.

Why? Because to them, in a medicalised world, 'nothing goes to plan'.

You can write anything on a bit of paper, but 'when you go into labour, you won't care'.

I think the word plan puts them off, it makes them feel like you will follow this plan, regardless of circumstance and not budge on it.

That is totally not the point.

This is your birth. Take responsibility for it. You aren't difficult, over the top, too naive. You are taking control.

Instead of a plan, I like to call it a preference. Birth preferences are things you would ideally like, if possible and can be tailored to all types of birth, whatever twists and turns your experience takes.

I don't think that birth preferences are for the purpose of healthcare professionals either. They are for you, the ones writing it, the ones having a baby. Writing your birth preferences means that you have looked into things, read the evidence and made a decision. This will set you up well for making choices during your birth experience overall.

I'm going to give you a few tips for writing your birth preferences, which will hopefully help it be a simple experience for you and your caregivers!

1. Keep it short and snappy. The NHS birth plan is something silly like 12 pages long. None of that please. Keep it to 2 sides of A4 at an absolute maximum. This will help your caregiver to be more receptive to reading it properly and will save you so much time when writing it. For example, things like skin to skin and optimal cord clamping are generally routine now, so you don't really need to mention them.

2. Read read read the evidence first! Don't just copy one from a book, website or someone elses. Research yourself, this is your birth preferences and no one elses. If you haven't read any information, you don't know what your options are in the first place.

3. Keep it applicable to all types of birth. What I mean, is that you don't need to do one for at home, one for hospital, one for caesarean etc. You can simply draw it all together. So, if you are planning a homebirth, you don't really need to state it, because the majority of the things you do at home will be easily done in hospital too. You can always add your preferences for caesarean on to this if the scenario were to arise. (Obviously if you are having a planned caesaren, this will be different).

4. I recommend you cover the following: environment, language, comfort measures, fetal monitoring, vaginal examinations, second stage of labour, unplanned caesarean birth, assisted birth, third stage. If you book one of my courses, I will provide a template and example of completed birth preferences. These are all things we cover on my courses, with evidence!

5. You can use the Pinter and Martin Visual Birth Plan icons if you find images easier to navigate and for ideas:

6. Don't stress about it. Remember, it isn't set in stone. It is to educate yourself more than anything.

7. Have your birth partner read it, or create it together, so that you are both on the same page.

I hope that helps! If you would like some more information on birth preferences, you can book onto one of my hypnobirthing courses, where we cover this topic in depth. It is one of my fave sessions!

Happy writing :)

Han x

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