“If you wish to surrender and go with the flow during birth, then it is wise to know where the current is heading. First seek the people and the environment that will support you, protect your wellbeing and respect your wishes during pregnancy and birth. And then you may safely surrender and go with the flow.”

Birth Journeys, Leonie MacDonald
(Find Birth Journeys on facebook here.)

Using a Birth Plan Effectively

The first step you can proactively take to give yourself the best chance possible at a VBAC is to set your intent to write a birth plan (scroll down for a sample birth plan). This will drive personal research, reflection and preparation which will help you find the right current for your birth, especially if you plan to go with the flow. Learn quickly how the hospital system and care provider practice can help and hinder your VBAC plans and then start considering how you will manage the system in which you are birthing.

Use your birth plan as a tool to create a dialogue between you, your partner, care provider and hospital regarding your desires and needs for your coming birth. The process of writing the plan is a good way to gauge early how your care provider and hospital will respond to your requests – the sooner you know whether either party are unable or unlikely to honour your birth plan, the more time you have to find a VBAC-supportive birth team.

We also encourage women to have a birth plan because there are routine procedures and restrictions which will likely apply to your planned VBAC labour and birth. We recommend you ask both your care provider and hospital about the procedures and restrictions they routinely impose during a planned VBAC labour and birth - it can be easier to consider and negotiate or decline this treatment ahead of time.

Once written, your plan formalises your wishes for your planned VBAC and it can clearly communicate your intentions to your birth team at a time when you may be unable to express this yourself. You should give copies of your birth plan to your care provider, hospital (send a copy to the Head of Maternity), partner and any other support people. Some women ask that no one attends their labour and/or birth unless they have read and signed the birth plan so that everyone is on the same page, so to speak. It can also be handy to have a doula or support person present who can remind hospital staff of your birth plan as required.

Many women feel more open to surrendering to the birth experience once their birth plan is written – knowing that this information is recorded can give you the freedom to move your attention away from external elements and inwards towards your own unique journey with your baby.

The downloadable birth plan and accompanying cover sheet available below are intended only as a starting point for you as you plan a hospital VBAC birth – these documents should be altered to suit your individual circumstances, needs and desires.