Writing a birth plan

Can you ever truly plan for childbirth? Yes- but remember, nothing to do with babies is set in stone! So be flexible and open minded to the fact things might not always go according to your plan!

A birth plan sets out how you would like the birth to go and helps you focus on important considerations, such as pain relief, before you go into labour. If this is your first pregnancy, it will probably help you to feel reassured if you do plenty of research around labour and birth. You should look in to the different forms of pain relief available to you. Try not to become too fixed about one type of pain relief, as you really won’t know how you might feel when the time is upon you, or how your labour might progress. In the end, you need to do what ends up being best for you and your baby- even if it wasn’t in your plan!

You also need to research the facilities at the hospital you are going to, for example there is no point planning for a water birth, if a birthing pool is not an option there!

It’s a good idea to make a couple of copies of your birth plan once you have written it. One can go in your maternity notes and the other can be packed as an extra in your hospital bag for your partner to refer to during labour.

Some things to think about putting in your birth plan 

Number one is probably, who will be there to help you through the labour and birth? Do you want them to stay with you through out the whole process? Would you like them to cut the umbilical chord, if this is possible? Are they happy to do this if they can?
Pain Relief : What have you decided you would like do when it comes to pain relief and which order should they be in.
What equipment does your hospital offer? For example do they have birthing balls, mats or beanbags? Do you want to use them if you can? Can you bring your own in?
What positions have you considered for birth? Do you want to be able to move around during labour?
How do you want your baby’s heartbeat to be monitored? Intermittent or constant? You need to be guided by your midwife on the day as they will know how your baby is reacting to labour.What if you need help with the birth? Are you happy for a ventouse or forceps delivery? Are you happy for your midwife to make the correct judgement.
What about the placenta? Do you want to keep it? Do you want to speed up its delivery?
Do you want to have your baby placed on you straight after the birth? Sometimes the baby needs to be cleaned up before hand, if they have passed meconium for instance.
Are you planning on bottle or breast feeding your baby? If you do not want your baby to be given formula, you need to make this clear.

When should you write your plan?  You should write the birth plan before the 36 week stage of your pregnancy, in case your baby decides to put in an early performance! You should take it with you to one of your antenatal appointments and discuss it with your midwife. They can help you, in case you have forgotten to include anything.

The most important thing to remember?  No amount of research and planning will guarantee things will go according to your plan. A birth plan is helpful as it lets your midwife know your wishes and it helps you to think about what you want prior to the birth. Your midwife will be acting in the very best interests of your baby and you. At the end of the day, being a parent can be unpredictable- and that start’s from day 1!

Good luck if you are writing your birth plan at the moment. Have we left anything out? Let us know if you have anything else to add.

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