Some expectant parents are reluctant to make a birth plan because they would rather go with the flow. However, I do think that making a plan or listing your preferences/wishes for labour and meeting your baby means that you have thought about it and gathered information about the details that matter to you.
A birth plan can work well as a simple but effective tool for communicating with your midwife, who you will probably meet for the first time when you are in labour. No two labours are the same and labouring women can have different needs and expectations so writing something down can help your midwife to quickly get to know you, what matters to you and what you might want support with.
My recommendation is to keep it simple, straightforward and focused on what is important to you.
What are your preferences for labour?
- If your labour is straightforward, would you like your birth room to be undisturbed and calm?
- would you prefer to stay active and off the bed?
- would you like to use different positions to be comfortable and to help your contractions be more effective? Including
if you have an epidural or an induction?
- are you planning on using your breathing for focus and calm with your contractions and to head off any panic?
- who are your birth partners?
- would you like to be kept informed of how labour
- do you have preferences regarding pain relief? would like to use the birthing pool.
- do you want a long skin-to-skin cuddle with your baby when he is born?
preferences are personal to you but the key
elements could include:
- Positions – staying active, comfortable, rested and
avoiding reliance on the bed. Whether you are keen to
use a birth ball, chairs and pillows to stay active and comfortable.
- Pain relief – have you thought about your pain relief options? Would you consider using a birthing pool? Is there anything you would prefer to avoid? This doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind but it may mean you have thought about how you plan to manage your contractions.
- Support from your midwife with breathing, moving, staying calm, information and working with each contraction.
- Your birth environment – would you like the ability to control your birth space: using birth ball, chairs, cushions to be active and comfortable; switching down the lights; playing music?
- A caesarean birth – would you like to be given information about the birth of your baby? would you like skin-to-skin with your baby? Would you like to find out the sex of your baby yourself?
- 3rd stage – do you have any preference about your
options for the delivery of your placenta? Would you like delayed cord clamping?
- Meeting your baby – if you don’t know the sex of your baby, do you want to find out for yourself when he or she is born? do you want to have skin to skin? do you want to dress your baby yourself?
- Feeding your baby – do you want to breastfeed or
- Are there any specific details your midwife needs to know about? As an example – painful hips or knees, anxiety issues, any ongoing medical issues and what works best for you to manage it.
Your birth plan isn’t a fixed strategy – it is more about a way of communicating important information with your midwife, it is a way of asking for support, for effective communication and for discussion.