Preparing for birth

Birth plan

If you would like to make a birth plan, our midwives can support you. You may find that this also provides an opportunity to ask further questions about the specific aspects of labour and birth. You don't have to create a birth plan and you are free to change your mind about your wishes for labour and birth at any time.

A birth plan usually includes what you would ideally like to happen during your labour and after the birth. The NHS website has a simple birth plan template which you can download. If you wanted to create a more detailed plan, the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) provides further guidance and things you might want to consider.

Types of birth

Vaginal birth

During the second stage of labour, once your cervix is fully dilated, you will begin to start pushing. As you push, your baby will move further down through your pelvis. Usually, your baby’s head comes out first through the vagina and then the shoulders and the rest of the body.

Vaginal assisted birth

Sometimes, extra help may be needed to help you deliver your baby using special instruments such as:

  • Forceps: There are different types of forceps. They are carefully positioned around your baby's head and joined together at the handles. An obstetrician will gently pull to help deliver your baby with a contraction and you pushing.
  • A ventouse (vacuum cup) is attached to the baby's head by suction. A soft or hard plastic or metal cup is attached by a tube to a suction device. The cup fits firmly on to your baby's head. An obstetrician will gently pull to help deliver your baby with a contraction and you pushing. (

These methods are safe and only used when necessary for you and your baby.

You’ll usually be offered have anaesthesia before having an assisted birth, so that you won’t feel any pain. This can be in the form of a local anaesthetic injection, or an epidural (injection into your back).

The NHS website provides further information about what to expect from a vaginal assisted delivery

Scheduled caesarean birth

This is a planned procedure which is often recommended when there is a higher level of risk to a vaginal delivery.

Read more about caesarean births on the NHS website

Unplanned caesarean birth

This is when you were planning to have a vaginal birth but the circumstances during labour mean that an unplanned caesarean is safer as it can be done quickly.

Stages of labour

1st stage: Contractions make your cervix gradually open (dilate)

Regular, painful contractions can mean that your labour has begun. These contractions will progress and become more intense and you may experience they increase in length, strength and frequency.

The contractions play a vital role in pushing your baby down and opening your cervix ready for your baby.

Our Triage and birth centres are open 24/7 and our midwives are on hand to offer the support you may need. Please telephone triage or the birth centres for:

  • if you think your waters have broken
  • for any support and advice
  • you feel your labour has started.

Triage can be contacted on: 01924 543006.

We may advise you to stay at home until your contractions become regular and more frequent or invite you in for an assessment.

If your labour is still in the early stages and you are managing okay with the pain, we may recommend that you return home until labour becomes more established.

This is usually the longest stage of labour.

2nd Stage: When cervix is fully dilated until the birth of your baby

The 2nd stage of labour starts from when your cervix is fully dilated until when your baby is born and is usually the most painful stage. At this point you will be given a private room.

You may want to explore different positions, and also consider your pain options and how your birthing partner can support you. 

3rd stage of labour: Birthing the placenta

This is the delivery of the placenta and it happens after you’ve had your baby. Usually there are two options available :

  • Active: this is an injection to make your womb contract which often leads to the placenta being delivered faster.

  • Physiological: you can wait for this to happen naturally.  

Packing your bag for a hospital birth  

Packing your bag in advance can be an exciting way to prepare for your baby’s arrival. Being prepared might also mean that you have fewer things to think about when it is time to come to hospital. The NHS website has a helpful list of items to consider packing to prepare you for your hospital stay.

You might want to consider packing your bag around a month before your due date.

Birth Matters Clinic

Birth Matters Clinic is facilitated by experienced Midwives who provide additional support to women who have had a difficult or traumatic experience with their labour and birth.  Women may be seen postnatally, or in a subsequent pregnancy.  At the appointment the Midwife may help to formulate a plan and coping strategies for an upcoming birth, or review the birth record and answer questions women may have following delivery.

You can be referred to Birth Matters Clinic by your Midwife, Health Visitor or GP.