Should you or shouldn't you? Some people write a highly detailed plan, others don't bother.
The best reason for doing a birth plan is to force you to think about all the issues that can arise during the birth of your baby. There are a lot of choices to be made and trust me you won't have the mental capacity to make them whilst having contractions and guzzling Entonox.
Firstly, if you are the type who likes everything planned to the nth degree, you will find that the only thing you can be sure about when having a baby is that it won't go to plan. So you may be upset if it doesn't go exactly as you hoped.
Secondly, you are often advised to write statements such as "I only want an episiotomy/Caesarian/foetal monitoring etc. if necessary". Trust me this is ridiculous. No medical professional is going to administer unnecessary treatments. In fact my experience of giving birth on the NHS, and that of many people I know is, that they are pretty stingy with treatments and you will have to beg for anything more than gas and air and a bed.
However there are lots of important decisions to be made, and making a birth plan will focus your mind on these issues. However on balance it is best to leave your birth plan in your hospital bag and not wave it under your midwife's nose. At my ante-natal class it was pretty clear that midwives think people with rigid birth plans are an absolute pain.
And by the way they really laugh at people who bring an aromatherapist.
Remember to talk to the other people involved in the birth too. You may want your partner present at a Caesarian, but they may not feel the same!
If you want your parent/sister/brother/best friend etc. to look after your other children when you go into hospital, make sure she knows about it, and don't just assume that they will guess.
If you want any particular equipment such as a birthing stool or ball, check that the hospital will provide it, or whether you need to bring it with you. Not all hospitals have a birthing pool, for example, and you may have to book into a hospital quite a long distance away or opt for a home birth and hire your own.
You can refuse to have students present, but do remember there is a real shortage of midwives and they can only learn by being present at births.
And finally, expect everything in your plan to change.
About the Author: Jacqui O'Brien is the Editor of eParenting.