5 Tips for when birth goes ‘off plan’

5 Tips for when birth goes ‘off plan’

Call it birth plan, birth preferences,  birth goals or even have a birth vision board. Whatever.

You’ve done your research. Talked to your care providers and have a pretty clear idea of how you would like your birth to be. And that’s great, knowing your options and making informed decisions about your care can be an empowering part of preparing for birth.

It doesn’t matter whether you choose a home birth swinging from your chandelier or a hospital birth with ALL the drugs, you know what you want.

But what if? What if anything changes. What if you go 10 days past the due date, what if baby decides they get pretty cosy in a bum down position. What if something changes that will affect your birth plan???

In my work as a Hypnobirthing teacher, I help couples prepare for the ‘what ifs’ and help them learn how to ask the right questions and to make confident choices.

Here are my top tips for when birth goes off plan.


  1. And breathe!

Whether you take NCT or pregnancy yoga or Hypnobirthing there will be talk of BREATHING and there is a good reason for that. Yes, there may be differing breathing techniques in each of the mentioned but they all have one thing in common.

They all send calming signals around the nervous system, signaling that all is safe, all is well.

In stressful or fearful situations the body instinctively flits into fight flight or fear mode, blood rushing to the extremities and leaving us feeling angry, afraid or running for the nearest exit! Not ideal for staying centred and making decisions right?

If this happens during the birth itself then the adrenaline released has the power to slow down on put your contractions on Pause until you do feel safe and comfortable.

Breathing is the quickest, simplest way to get back to that state of calm. Birth partners this includes you as well!


2.Use your BRAINS

Well duh, I’ve got a brain thanks,  and I wasn’t planning on having it removed any time soon.

BRAINS is a bit different and I always say this is your number one decision-making tool for pregnancy, birth and beyond. In the event of any big choice ask your care providers to explain to you.

BENEFITS- for you and baby

RISKS- for you and baby

ALTERNATIVES – this may be the suggested course of action but is there usually another way

INSTINCTS – what is your gut telling you?

NOTHING – what are the implications if we do nothing for 5 minutes while we have space to make our decision? Or An hour? Or A day?

SMILE – we release our happy hormones when we smile and it helps to bond and build a rapport with your care providers.

Ask questions and investigate, the more involved you are in the decision making, the more likely you are to be happy with the decision, even if it wasn’t your initial choice.


3. Reconsider your birth plan

Depending on the urgency of the matter at hand you may have time to relook at your birth plan and see if it’s still all makes sense to you.

There’s probably a lot of points from your own plan that are still relevant but perhaps you want to make some tweaks.  For example, if you were planning an active birth followed by the birth pool, is this still going to work for you now you are considering an induction?  It doesn’t mean that everything you initially wanted has to go out of the window, but it does mean you might have to be a bit more creative and spend some time discussing your options with your care providers to see if you can navigate around any hurdles.

There is always more than one way to skin a cat as they say up north (I’m a real fan of the wisdom of nana phrases!)

I love Milli Hills approach to birth plans. Author of one of my favourite books the positive birth book.

She suggests doing the birth plan work before so consider it a pre-emptive strike to going off birth plan!

Birth plan A is your blue sky scenario

Birth plan B is your need a bit of assistance scenario

Birth plan C is your best possible c section,  bearing in mind that 1 in 4 births in the UK is cesarean

Researching your options before can be a real confidence boost, knowing that you are ready for different scenarios.

As the saying goes, if you don’t know your options then you don’t have any!


4. Partners in crime, step it up a gear

Birth partners….if we didn’t need you before (jokes, we need ya)

Deviating from the plan is when we are really gonna need you.

We need your reassurance, we need your physical and emotional support.

We need you to step in and tell us that we are doing an amazing job NO MATTER WHAT

If this is happening during birth then we may need you to ask some questions on our behalf cos ya know, we are kinda busy getting that little human earthside!

Again some of the legwork for this might be done before the big day. Play an active role in creating the birth plan together, packing the birth bag so you know where everything is and even learning the breathing techniques (they are as much to help you stay calm you know)

And not forgetting yourself in the matter too, making sure you are fed and watered and had some sleep if you can, ready to plough that energy back in.


5. Make peace and release

For some of you of this may well be their hardest bit.

It can be really hard to walk away from something that you want, really hard! And that’s the same when it comes to birth.

Acknowledge what it was you wanted in the first place. Consciously decide to let that go. Make peace with your new plan and focus making it as positive as possible


Those are my top 5 tips for when birth goes off plan. If you would like to know more about Hypnobirthing in Walthamstow and how it can help you feel ready for birth no matter what, then get In touch for a free consultation.

X Katie

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