Much of what happens during labour and delivery is beyond your (or anyone’s!) control. That’s why many mums-to-be find it helpful to write a birth plan, with their delivery day decisions. It gives them a sense of empowerment, and a feeling of reassurance that their preferences for labour and delivery are made clear up-front.
What is a birth plan?
A birth plan is a simple, concise, usually one-page statement that write a birth plan. lists your preferences for your It gives them baby’s birth. It helps ensure that all those directly involved – you a sense of and your partner, doctors, and empowerment, midwives, are all on the same page when it comes to the and a feeling of important issues in your labour reassurance that and delivery. It’s a set of basic guidelines, a sort of go-to their preferences document, for all parties to refer for labour and to when it comes to things like pain relief, medical intervention, delivery are made positions for labour and birth, clear up-front. birthing partners and those in the delivery room, and care of baby after birth.
How do I write my birth plan?
Start by visiting the hospital or birthing centre you’re having your baby at to check what facilities and arrangements are available. Talk to other mums who may have had babies at the same hospital or birthing centre to find out about their experiences. Once you’ve done your research, begin writing down your wishes as they come to mind. Here are some things you may want to include in your birth plan.
Your birth partner
Decide whom you want to have with you while you’re in labour. Will this person stay with you all the time, or are there certain stages of your labour when you’d prefer to be on your own? Will you include any other children you may have? What about family members? Will your birth partner remain with you if you need to have a Caesarean delivery? What do you want your birth partner to do for you during labour and delivery.
TIP: Be flexible! Keep in mind that things won’t always go according to plan, so it’s important you allow some flexibility in your birth plan. Many new mums are disappointed if they don’t get their “dream birth:, so focus on being realistic.
List your choices for pain relief in order of preference. Do you prefer natural pain relief like gas and air, acupuncture, breathing techniques, massage, reflexology, and TENS, or would you like the option of pethidine or an epidural? Are you planning on bringing a reflexologist, acupuncturist, herbalist, or aromatherapist into the labour room with you? Also specify those pain relief methods you would prefer to avoid altogether.
Labour & birth
Decide on the type of birth you would like and list your preferences for position during labour and delivery. Do you want to stand, lie down, use the shower, or walk around during labour? Is there a birthing position you prefer? Will you stand, squat, or kneel on all fours during delivery? Is there any birthing equipment that you’d like to use – a birthing chair, birthing ball, bean bag, or birth pool?
Music & lighting
Determine the type of atmosphere you’d feel most comfortable in during labour and delivery. Consider things like lighting, the temperature in the room, and the noise around you. You may want to write a playlist of music that you find soothing, or specify whether you want the lights dimmed or if you’d prefer a brighter, more cheerful space. Make a list of any items you want to bring with you: Family photos, a camera, your iPod, etc.
Intervention & assisted birth
If your labour is not progressing fast enough, write down whether or not you would like any intervention. How would you prefer to be induced? Do you feel strongly about assisted delivery using forceps or a ventouse? What about an episiotomy or a caesarean delivery? Or will you leave it up to your doctor or midwife to determine whether these are necessary?
Delivery of baby
Write down the things that are important to you about your baby’s birth. Will your partner cut the umbilical cord? Do you wish to have baby placed directly onto your tummy following birth? Would you like to breastfeed baby immediately, or wait until baby has been washed and clothed first? What are your preferences when it comes to breastfeeding or bottle-feeding baby?
FACT: For first-time mums, the first stage of labour can last from six to 36 hours.
Decide what you would like to happen if baby has to go to the special care baby unit. Will you or your partner go with baby? Do you wish to care for baby as much as possible yourself? Will you transfer with baby to another hospital if a transfer is necessary?
It makes total sense to be prepared for the big day; getting your ideal birth down on paper helps you to focus and to plan ahead. But remember to be flexible and keep in mind that things don’t always go to plan. After all, the most important thing is the safe delivery of your little bundle of joy.
BUMP & baby is New Zealand’s only magazine for pregnancy and early babyhood. Our team of mums and mums-to-be understand what it’s like to be pregnant in this connected age, and that’s why BUMP & Baby online is geared toward what pregnant women and new mums really want to know.