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Ask The Expert: Do I really need to have a birth plan?

A birth plan is one of the best moves a pregnant woman can make, says writer Milli Hill

Q: "I'm seven months pregnant and my midwife has suggested I write my birth plan. But is it really necessary?"

A: Milli Hill, author of The Positive Birth Book (Pinter & Martin, £14.99), says: "A birth plan is one of the best moves a pregnant woman can make.

"There are a lot of misconceptions about them – firstly, many people think birth is completely unpredictable and therefore you can't plan for it. But this isn't the full picture – by learning about your options and taking an active role in your choices, you can maximise your chances of getting the best possible birth.

"It's also a misconception that a birth plan is just a wish-list for an ideal scenario. When making your plan, take time to create a strong vision of your ideal birth. But also think about the ways your birth experience might deviate from your hopes, and make a Plan B – and C and D.

"And even if you definitely don't want a Caesarean, it's still worth learning about new ideas like gentle Caesareans, and making what I call a plan for your BPC (Best Possible Caesarean).

"You can lay out in your birth plan where you ideally want to give birth, and how. You can give detailed instructions to your care providers, for example that you'd prefer to have a Caesarean rather than an instrumental delivery. These choices are best made in advance and discussed with your midwives if you think they deviate from the usual care.

"And, of course, it's good to put in your plan that you want optimal cord clamping and immediate skin-to-skin with your baby – these sorts of choices should be stuck to even if the rest of your plan goes out of the window."

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