Making your birth plan

A birth plan is a written record of what you would like to happen during your labour and after the birth. It can also include things you’d like to avoid.

A birth plan is a great way to convey your hopes and choices for your ideal birth experience. What you include in it is up to you and you can change your mind at any time. 

What is a birth plan?

A birth plan helps you let your healthcare team know what you want to happen, and what you want to avoid, during your baby’s birth. It can include anything about your labour and your baby’s birth that matters to you.

Your plan will depend on what you want, your medical history and what birth options are on offer at your local maternity service. 

You do not need a special form for your birth plan. You can write down a few points on a sheet of paper if you like. Or, you can download a birth plan template from the NHS, and fill that in. It is a good idea to pop a few copies in your hospital bag. 

Do I have to write a birth plan?

There’s no need to have a birth plan unless you want one. But you might find the process of writing one helps you get your head around your birth choices better, even if you do not use it in the end. If you do want to write one, your midwife can help you. They will be able to:

  • answer your questions about what happens in labour
  • tell you more about birth options in your area
  • help you work out what your wishes are for your birth experience.

What should l include in my birth plan?

You may want to include things like:

After you have made your birth plan, share it with your birth partner if you have one. They will be able to support you better if they know what you want. They can also outline what they would like their role to be in your baby’s birth.

A birth plan if you are having a caesarean section

You can still have a birth plan if you are having a planned c-section. For example, you may want the screen lowered so you can see your baby’s birth. 

Or, you may want a quiet theatre so that the first voice your baby hears is yours. If you are not planning to have a c-section, it may still be worth adding a special section to your birth plan, in case you end up having one. 

Unless there’s a real emergency, there should still be time for the doctors and midwives to follow your choices. 

Find out more about prepping for a caesarean section

Vitamin K for newborns

After your baby is born, you will be offered an injection of vitamin K for them. Doctors offer this to help prevent a rare bleeding disorder called vitamin K deficiency bleeding.

Your midwife will talk to you about this jab during your pregnancy. If you do not want your baby to have an injection, they can have vitamin K by mouth instead, but they will need more doses. You can include your preference for this in your birth plan. 

Delayed cord clamping

Delayed cord clamping should be done automatically, but it may still be helpful to mention it in your birth plan. It is when the umbilical cord, which links your placenta to the baby, is not clamped and cut until at least 1 to 5 minutes after you give birth. 

This allows the cord blood from the placenta to keep flowing to your baby after they are born, which helps with their growth and development. 

Find out more about delayed cord clamping.

What happens after I make my birth plan?

Being flexible

Things do not always go to plan during pregnancy or labour. You will need to be prepared for things not going just as you had hoped. For example, your hospital might not have any birthing pools free when you get there, or you may need to transfer to hospital during a home birth.

Do not worry too much about trying to cover all the things that could happen in your birth plan. Your midwife or doctor should involve you and your birth partner in any choices that need to be made on the day.

Changing your mind

You can change your mind about your birth choices at any time. That even applies during labour. For example, you may find on the day that you do not want a water birth or that you want an epidural after all. Never be afraid to ask.   

The Wellbeing Plan

Our Wellbeing Plan is like a birth plan, but to help support your emotional wellbeing. It can get you to start thinking about how you feel, and what support you might need in pregnancy and after the birth.

You can use it to help you talk to your partner, birth partner, family, friends or a midwife about how you are feeling. Or you might prefer to keep it private. 

NHS (2021) How to make a birth plan. Available at: (Accessed 27 March 2024) (Page last reviewed 14/04/2021. Next review due 14/04/2024) 

NHS (2022) What happens straight after the birth? Available at: (Accessed 27 March 2024) (Page last reviewed 22/08/2022. Next review due 22/08/2025) 

NICE (2020) Antenatal and postnatal mental health: clinical management and service guidance. Available at: (Accessed 27 March 2024) (Page last reviewed 11/02/2020)

Review dates
Reviewed: 27 March 2024
Next review: 27 March 2027