Birth Plans: How To Decide What You Want

Today, FFHQ Pregnancy Expert and Midwife Avril Flynn is talking all about birth plans and how to decide what's best for you.

As a midwife and childbirth educator, one of the very important things I work on with my clients is helping them decide what things they would like or would not like to happen around the time of their babies’ birth.

As phrases go, I’m not a massive fan of ‘birth plans’. I think it imposes too much the idea of rules, rules which tend not to apply to the miraculous wonder that is human birth and could, therefore, lead to real disappointment if the ‘plan’ doesn’t play ball. 

However, I am a massive fan of birth planning! I just prefer calling the concept and idea birth preferences  - which to my mind can be a comprehensive list that is as sparse or as complex and detailed as you, the birthing person or couple, desire.

Attending the right Care Provider

The first thing to do when you get pregnant and start your birth preference list is to decide what sort of birth you are aiming for.  Depending on what you are leaning toward, the next step is to then decide on a care provider that you think will best suit your needs. I have previously written about the different care provider options in Ireland.

Deciding on an option that best suits your family means that you will be with someone who is more likely to support your decisions and have an open conversation about your wishes.  If you need advice or can’t decide then have a chat to someone that can give impartial and honest advice like an antenatal teacher or class provider (like me) or speak with Cuidiu. They are an excellent resource for parents for advice, support and guidance.  

Attending the right care provider for you means that you will be aligned with regard to your birth preferences. It will give you confidence as you move forward in your planning journey and it is a lovely thing when you are with a maternity professional that you really trust. 

Birth Plans: How To Decide What You Want
Each maternity unit has a website where they list the different things on offer.

As your preferences develop, make sure that you have a printed list or document and that it is signed off by yourself and your lead care provider and that there is a copy at the front of your notes. This will ensure that everyone is aware of it and that it is agreed upon.


It is impossible to know what you want in your birth preferences unless you do some homework. Attending a good antenatal class will be great for fine-tuning your wishes but before then, try and read some books and read about the different sorts of births that are available. 

Each maternity unit has a website where they list the different things on offer.

Remember, you are entitled to be as picky as you like, so inform yourself as widely as possible to make sure that you are happy.  Even if you are planning an elective c-section, you can still have preferences! 

Remember this is your birth, your experience – you don’t have to tell anyone outside of your maternity care professional what you want. So choose what YOU want, not what you think you should want.

You are the most important person in the room!

As I have written about before, no matter what way you plan to give birth , or what way you end up giving birth, you are still the most important person in that room! 

Your wishes should be respected and unless there is a medical reason, they should be honoured. However, the policy and protocols of different units are a guiding principle for anyone that works there.

So it’s really important that you write down any thoughts you have and make sure what you desire is something that the unit you are attending can facilitate. 

And as with all plans, it is possible due to the nature of birth, that you might plan for a drug-free hypnobirth but end up with a failed induction/ emergency c-section. 

Even if this is the case, there are still elements of your preferences that can still occur- but you may have to ask for them or if you are the birth partner, then advocate and ask on their behalf. 

After all that is said and done, if you feel at any stage that your wishes are not being honoured then say so! And also ensure that if a huge deviation for your preference happens (and there might be a very good reason for this) that it is clearly explained to you and that you understand and agree with it. 

You deserve to be supported every step of the way.

Avril Flynn

Avril is a Registered Midwife, Childbirth Educator, Hypnobirth Practitioner, Podcast and Live Event presenter and mother of one.

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