Thinking about the birth

You will have lots of questions about the birth, from where it will take place to what exactly happens. You’ll also need to make some decisions and there is plenty of information and support to help you.

What sort of birth is right for you?

Your midwife may ask you during pregnancy if you would like to make a birth plan. This means that your choices are written down after a full discussion. Your midwife will cover all the information you need to make an informed choice.

The birth plan then goes into your notes, with a copy for you to keep. Your choices are important guidelines and reminders, but you can still change your mind.

If you are confused about anything, or have concerns, talk to your midwife or antenatal teacher.

Making a birth plan

Things to consider for your birth plan:

  • whether you want to be free to move into different positions during labour and delivery
  • how you want your baby’s heart rate to be monitored
  • whether you want an actively managed or ‘physiological’ third stage of labour
  • how you feel about induction and acceleration of labour
  • vitamin K will be given to your baby after she is delivered unless you make a decision otherwise.

Labouring in water can help you relax, and women often report that it helps lessen the pain of contractions. More women use the pool for labour than actually give birth to their baby in it.

Who will be with you at the birth?

Who would you like to give you support and encouragement when you’re in labour? Your partner may be the obvious choice, if you have one, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be a good friend or your mum.

There is some evidence that having another person with you, instead of (or as well as) your partner, is helpful and can shorten your labour. Some women have a close friend, a relative or their antenatal teacher.

It’s a good idea to discuss your birth plan with your partner and whoever else will be with you at the birth. If they know what you expect and what your decisions are they’ll be able to give you better support.

Water birth

You can discuss the possibility of delivering your baby in the water with the midwife/midwives who will be caring for you (if you plan a home birth) or with the antenatal clinic and the labour ward midwife (if you plan to give birth in hospital).

If you would like to stay in the water for a long time, it’s better to use a large pool giving you plenty of room in which to change positions. The midwife can examine you in the pool if necessary, and help deliver your baby. The water needs to be kept warm. Some hospitals have a birthing pool or a large bath they use for labour. You can hire a special pool for using at home or in units where they are not available (see Further help for more information). Discuss what’s available locally with your midwife.

Last Updated: 06 March 2017
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