SHOULD YOU WRITE A BIRTH PLAN?

notebook photo.jpg

We often get asked whether it is necessary to write a birth plan.  Actually it comes down to personal choice.

The first thing we say is that the word plan is a bit misleading.  Plan would suggest that everything is set in stone and this of course can only lead to disappointment.  Sadly, you can’t plan your labour but you can have your preferences – so rather think of is as birth preferences or birth choices.  This way, you won’t feel like you have failed if the plan is not met and it is a far more positive starting point.

If you decide that you don’t want to write a birth plan that is fine too.  No one will judge you either way.  Some couples prefer to leave it completely open and to go with the flow on the day. 

Your birth plan can be as long or as short as you want.  You have complete ownership of it, so don’t feel that anything you write down is silly or embarrassing.  Midwives have probably seen most of it before!  Try to keep it concise so it is easy to follow and you can highlight the areas that are more important to you.

Remember that birth doesn’t always follow a set path and that you haven’t done it before, so try to remain as flexible as possible.

Depending on where you are having your baby and how busy the unit is, will determine who helps you to write it.  In ideal world there will be plenty of time to discuss it all with your midwife but sadly this is not always possible.  Your antenatal teacher would be very happy to go through it with you and we would recommend that you write it with your partner as of course you may not be your best advocate on the day.  It is important that your birth partner understands what you hope for.

You may wish to include your preferences on:

  • Place of birth

  • What role your partner(s) will play

  • What you like to be called

  • Being informed/consulted on procedures

  • Routine procedures e.g. rupture of membranes, drip to speed up labour

  • Monitoring the baby during labour

  • Mobility and positions for labour and birth (cushions, balls, pool, stool etc)

  • Eating and drinking in labour

  • Birth environment e.g. lighting, music

  • Pain relief

  • Being offered pain relief (or the midwife waiting until you request it)

  • Active, directed pushing or not in the second stage

  • Managed or unmanaged third stage

  • Who cuts the cord

  • Desire to keep the placenta

  • Presence of student doctors and midwives

  • Finding out the sex of baby for yourselves

  • Holding baby immediately or having it cleaned up first

  • Skin to skin contact

  • Time alone as a family

  • Vitamin K – yes or no, injection or oral dose

  • What happens if your baby needs special care e.g. partner stays with baby?

  • Your feeding hopes

 Additional considerations for a Caesarean birth

  • Commentary through the procedure

  • Curtain/screen or not

  • Theatre to be quiet as possible, or special music

  • Lower the lights at the time of birth

  • Option to have a more ‘natural’ caesarean?  (If you are having an elective c/section this is something that you can discuss with your caregivers beforehand)

Your birth plan can go in your maternity notes and there are plenty of birth plan templates out there for you to use.  Never feel guilty if you don’t achieve half of what’s on your list or you change your mind.  You can only ever do your best at any given time.

Good luck!

Links:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/how-to-make-birth-plan/

https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/labour-birth/making-your-birth-plan

Bundle Team - 14 May 2019