In preparation for the big day, it’s a good idea to write a birth plan. A birth plan is essentially a concise document detailing all your wishes and preferences for your birth experience.
The birth plan is then shared with the medical team, doula, birth partner or anyone else involved in helping you deliver your baby on the day. This means that on the day itself you can focus your thoughts and energy on bringing a new little life into the world, without having to worry about anything else.
Here’s our list of what to consider when writing your birth plan…
Where to start
A bit of basic, but essential, admin. At the top of the birth plan state the name of the mother and father and the name of the birth partner (this may be the father too) as well as any other people who will be there throughout the birth, such as a doula or your mother or sister for example. This is a quick way for all staff to know who is who on the day.
Your birth plan should be easy and quick to read with the majority of information in bullet point format. This will allow medical staff (many of whom regularly change shifts) to quickly know what you do and don’t want without having to disturb you.
This is one of the key benefits of having a good birth plan in place – you don’t have lots of different staff asking you the same questions when you are trying to concentrate on the bigger task in hand!
This includes everything from the moment you start having contractions to just before the baby descends into the birth canal. In this section make a list of everything you do and don’t want during labour. Here’s our examples of things to consider in this section…
· Water bath - upon arrival at hospital and available throughout labour
· Remain as mobile as possible throughout labour
· Mother and father to be left in peace and quiet
· Room to be quiet with low lighting
· Refer to ‘comfort level’ rather than ‘level of pain’
· No artificial breaking of the water
If this will be your first birth experience, it can be difficult to know what sort of pain relief you may want when the time comes.
The weeks before you go into labour give you the opportunity to read about the different options and understand the pros and cons for each. This allows you to make informed decisions without the pressure of actually being in labour.
Documenting these preferences in your birth plan means you don’t need to worry about choosing pain relief on the day, you can just focus on giving birth.
Birth plans are not set in stone though, so you can absolutely change your mind if you feel differently on the day.
It’s worth adding a little extra detail to explain how or when you might want each form of pain relief you list in your birth plan.
Here are some pain relief examples to consider…
· Water bath – upon arrival
· Breathing techniques – with doula
· Massage - from my husband
· Gas and air - as required
· TENS machine - available throughout
· Epidural – only if necessary
· Pethadine - only if necessary
Even if you decide you would prefer not to have any pain relief just make sure you state that in your plan too.
This section is all about the actual delivery and moments thereafter. Although in reality the actual birth is often shorter than the time spent in labour, there is perhaps more to consider when planning this stage. After all, this is when the magic happens and you will have another little person on the scene.
As with the labour plan, it is good to add context to some of your points. Here are our examples of some things to think about in this section…
· Water birth
· Assume position of my choice during descent
· Who and when to cut the cord
· Minimal wiping to retain majority of vernix on the baby, especially the hands
· Immediate skin on skin contact – baby to be placed directly on mother’s abdomen
· Oxytocin injection to deliver the placenta – only if medical emergency
· Allow time for placenta to be released naturally, no pulling or prodding uterus
· Vitamin K injection for baby?
· Feeding – can baby be bottle fed/formula fed/fed by anyone except the mother?
Knowledge is power
Understanding your options gives you the power to make informed choices and allows you to feel prepared and relaxed for labour and birth. This will help to ease stress and anxiety and allow you to focus on you and your baby.
Antenatal classes offer lots of support in how to prepare for labour and birth so it is likely they will cover a lot of the topics we mention here. You can also discuss options with your midwife or with friends who have had babies.
Just an extra note to say…
All the examples given in this blog are not being given as recommendations for the choices you should make in your birth plan but are just to make you aware of some of the choices you have. In order to make informed decisions about the specific details of your own birth plan it is best to read about each topic so you can make the best choice for you and your baby. Everyone is different so you should always choose what is best for you.
Wishing you and your baby a magical first meeting,
The Bamboo Baby Company