CONGRATULATIONS, you’re having a baby! You’ve long planned your nursery, your pram and your sweet cherub’s name – but have you planned the birth?
Once you’re pregnant, it’s kind of a done deal that one way or another, you’re going to birth this baby. So do you really need a birth plan? Let’s find out.
What is a birth plan?
Don’t freak out – important as it is, you don’t need council approval or anything like that. A birth plan is simply a means of communication between you and your midwives, doctors and anyone else you expect to be in the labour ward with you!
A birth plan is a way for you to express your preferences for the kind of child birthing experience you would like to have – and also any of the things you might want to avoid. Yes for whale music and drugs, no for ALL the family in the delivery suite, that kind of thing.
What goes in it and how do I write one?
Good news, you can absolutely write your birth plan yourself in the comfort of your own home. However, you really should go over it with your doctor at one of your check-up appointments, discuss it with a midwife when booking your birth in at the hospital and most definitely run it past your partner – just so you’re ALL on the same page.
Your birth plan can be as thorough or as simple as you like or need it to be. You might have only a few things you feel strongly about and that’s perfectly ok.
Want to print a simple sheet with ALL the details? Try this birth plan template from The Bump.
When writing your birth plan, consider including your preferences on the following:
Who you want by your side – who do you want supporting you during childbirth? Will they be there for the duration or excused as labour progresses?
Positions – do you want to be relatively mobile throughout labour or do as much as possible propped up in bed?
Pain relief – are you wanting a drug-free hypno-birthing experience or are you open to an epidural? Also make a note of anything you’d like to avoid ie. if pethidine makes you vomit violently, you want that known.
Options for assisted delivery – how do you feel about the use of forceps or ventouse (the suction device that pulls baby out by its head) and do you have a preference?
Any postnatal care notes for baby – do you want skin-on-skin contact straight away? Does your partner want to cut the umbilical cord?
Any other special needs – if your religious belief dictates parts of childbirth are done a certain way, make it known in your birth plan. If you have any allergies or follow a particular diet, also write that down!
Why do you need a birth plan?
It’s important to make birth plans because firstly, it gets you thinking about what kind of birth experience you want and secondly, it prepares you with nitty-gritty details for the experience – you’re not going in completely blind. It’s all very well and good to put your trust into the medical professionals but you still want to be able to make informed, empowered decisions along the way – and especially if things start to feel a little crazy, which they sometimes do.
When to ditch the birth plan and go with the flow
While it’s important to have an understanding of what typically happens in the labour ward, it’s equally important to remember that labour and childbirth are both unpredictable. Sometimes circumstances beyond your control will dictate a completely different course of action to what you wished for in your birth plan. Ultimately, you should make peace with this possibility and know that decisions will be made with your best interest and safety in mind!
Write a birth plan for your own peace of mind if nothing else. ALSO, it’s very useful for any midwives trying to have a rational conversation with you in the throes of labour – they have something to refer to and can fire more direct questions at you.
Happy birth planning Mum Central mums, we wish you an amazing birthing experience and enjoy that sweet bub of yours!