Documenting your birth choices...

Being at the centre of decision-making means that you can look back on your experience positively, no matter what path your baby's birth takes... Healthcare professionals will make suggestions about your care during pregnancy and birth, based on local guidelines and risk management. To help you make informed choices, remember to ask questions based on the BRAINS acronym (a staple of childbirth preparation classes all over the world):

B - what are the benefits?
R - what are the risks?
A - are there any alternatives?
I - (think) what is our instinct telling us?
N - what happens if we do nothing
S - smile - keep the space positive

A birth choices document is invaluable in helping you to communicate with your caregivers... This is your voice at a time when you might not wish to speak a great deal, or be disturbed unnecessarily.

The examples below may hopefully give you an idea of the language, layout etc. There are no 'right' or 'wrong' choices, just your choices. The names are made up. Feel free to copy verbatim or edit / adapt.

Have this written up ready for your 34 or 36 week antenatal check. Discuss your birth choices with your care providers (there may be extra choices to make, depending on your care facility), file a copy in your maternity notes, and make sure birth partners have extra copies to hand. Tip - it's more likely to be read and understood if you keep it simple!

Alex's Birth Choices...

Thank you for being part of our baby's birth... Do help yourselves to the snacks we've provided for you! ♡

If all is well please follow my informed choices below. If you have any additional suggestions please fully explain the benefits, risks and alternatives to obtain my active informed consent / decline

  • My birth partner and advocate is my partner Jesse

  • We've practised hypnobirthing with triggers inc music, words, touch, fragrance

  • Please note that hypnobirthers might progress quicker than you expect!

  • Kindly help us to create a very quiet, private space as I wish to focus inwards

  • [optional] I decline routine [procedure]. This is an informed choice - the pros and cons have been fully discussed with [midwife / doctor's name] on [date] and documented in my notes

  • Active 2nd stage: Spontaneous breathing and bearing-down, very quiet encouragement please :)

  • We wish to discover our baby's sex ourselves

  • 1 hour v.quiet skin-to-skin bonding

  • 3rd stage: physiological: cord cut by Jesse (or myself) after I've birthed the placenta naturally [or] / active management with oxytocic injection following optimal (delayed) cord clamping

  • We will / will not be keeping our baby's placenta

  • I consent / do not consent to vitamin K injection / oral dose

  • I plan / do not plan to breastfeed

Caesarean Birth Choices...

  • Gown and leads to be arranged to facilitate skin-to-skin asap

  • IV access in non-dominant arm (not hand)

  • Our own music playing

  • A quiet, special atmosphere please: no "shop-talk" ;)

  • Ask me if I'd like a clear drape or the drape lowered for the birth

  • Gentle, slow, calm birth with baby placed asap on my chest

  • We wish to discover baby's sex ourselves

  • Delayed cord clamping for as long as practicable

  • Leave the cord long so we can 'cut it' after
  • Jesse would like to take pictures and video clips

  • Please delay weighing and non-essential checks until later

  • We will / will not be keeping our baby's placenta

  • I plan / do not plan to breastfeed

  • I consent / do not consent to vitamin K injection / oral dose

birth plan
   16th March 2022

The importance of open-mindedness...

It's definitely important to identify and prepare for your plan A birth scenario, but be prepared for plan B and C too, practically and emotionally - knowing that no matter how your baby is born, you can stay calm and in control, no matter what.

If you're particularly frightened about a specific scenario (for example caesarean birth, or an assisted / unassisted birth), perhaps take yourself into hypnosis by simply closing your eyes, breathing deeply, relaxing your body, and imagine that situation happening as if you were a passive observer. See yourself coping calmly, maintaining control and having a positive experience. Repeat this exposure technique regularly until you are not frightened of that possibility any more. For you, this affirmation can be very relevant: 

"I accept whatever path my baby's birth takes, with confidence"

In an ironic way, being completely unafraid about ANY possible birth scenario (releasing that tension) makes it more likely that your chosen plan A will happen anyway! Do check out our positive hypno-caesarean and hypno-induction stories...