Giving birth to your child is one of the most emotional and intense experiences you will ever encounter. Because of this, it is important to be well-educated and have an exact plan for how you would like things to go. When you create a detailed birth plan for your pregnancy and delivery, you enable your healthcare providers, family members and friends to know exactly how you want to experience the birth of your baby. The following information will further explain what a plan for birth is and what type of information it should include.
Definition of a Birth Plan
A birth plan is simply a plan that you develop for the birth of your baby. It is a list that addresses various details about your labor, how you would like it to progress, who you would like involved and other important aspects of the delivery process. You only get one chance to experience the birth of your baby and it should be every bit as special and memorable as you have imagined.
Pain Management Guidelines
One of the first things that many women list in their birth plan is their pain management guidelines and preferences. Do you want IV drip in? Are you looking to experience childbirth naturally or do you want to have an epidural? These are all things that should be listed in addition to any method you prefer or techniques that you specifically want to avoid. A plan for birthing is just as good of a place to list what you don’t like as it is to list what you want.
Location and Audience
Other important guidelines to include in your birth plan are the location in which you wish to give birth and the people you want to have around you at the time. This is your show so if your goal is to give birth in your living room with 30 people in attendance, that is okay to write down in your plan.
Similarly, if you want to give birth in the water, in a special birthing bed or just in a regular hospital setting, it is important to list exactly what you want. It is also okay to list people you want present, but exclude them after the labor has progressed to a certain point. This is useful if you have young children or family members that you are not comfortable sharing too much with.
Your birth plan can be as short or long as you wish. Do not be ashamed to have a plan that goes on for many pages. It is best to list all of your preferences and your plan is a place to list exactly how you see your labor and delivery progressing.
While plans for the birthing of your baby are important to have and share with your medical professionals, it is also good to keep in mind that special circumstances can arise and you should not be discouraged if you have to deviate from the plan on occasion. The most important thing is that your baby arrives in the world safe and healthy.
A birth plan allows a mother to decide exactly how the birth of her baby should occur. With a plan for birthing, you are able to sculpt a memorable experience that will minimize your pain and frustration while capturing the beauty of this special time.
Should I Write a Birth Plan?
There are two sides to every issue, and birth planning is no exception. On the one hand are those who encourage you to become a part of the decision making for labor and birth; while on the other hand are those who remind you labor cannot be scripted. Both sides are right, both sides have important information to share, but where does that leave you on the issue of writing a birth plan?
There are four key things to recognize about birth plans before you choose to write or not write your preferences for labor. Understanding these things will help you to be a part of the decision making process for giving birth, while allowing you to be flexible enough to handle whatever challenges labor has for you.
What’s in Your Birth Plan? – Planning Your Hospital Birth
Why do you need a birth plan?
There are many options available to support your hospital birth experience ranging from a water birth to a C-section. The idea of a birth plan is to choose your preferred method of giving birth, and also to specify your views on interventions that will be offered to you. While many women do not have the birth that they planned, preparing a birth plan gives you and your partner a starting point when labour kicks in. Also creating a birth plan enables you to discuss all the options with your partner and midwife and confirm what your preferences are. This is important, as your partner may need to speak for you while you are focussed on your labour. Also if your midwife is aware of your birth plan she will be better placed to support your wishes.
What to put in your birth plan?
This will be different for every person, and you will gain ideas about your ideal birth from antenatal classes and talking to mothers who have been through the process, or even your own experience if this is not your first child. Below is a template for a birth plan that covers the main areas to consider when planning your hospital birth.
How to put your birth plan together – try this template
The sections below are the common areas to consider when planning your hospital birth; you may come up with more requirements or may have no preferences on some of the sections below. You can use this as a guide to start your birth plan.
- People present
You may be happy for trainee midwives or doctors to be present, or adamant that you only want the minimum required people present. Likewise you may only want your birth partner present, or be happy for close relatives and friends to support you. If you specify this then your partner or midwife can tactfully ask people to give you some privacy if required during the birth.
- Pain relief
Specify what pain relief you would like if any, and the order in which you like them, i.e. gas and air first, pethidine, epidural. You may want to try a birthing pool first if your hospital has the facilities, you will need to check with your midwife to avoid disappointment.
- Assisted Delivery
What if your birth does not go according to your birth plan?
If the midwife or doctor feels that the birth is not going according to your birth plan, there is a useful acronym for you or your partner to use to assess your options. Remember the doctors and midwives are there to support you and will support your wishes as long as they are not detrimental to the health of you or your baby. So when they offer you any intervention in childbirth, first consider BRAIN, which is where:
This should help you make an informed decision on whether you would like to try the doctors suggestion, or wait to see how the birth progresses before making a decision.