Nobody is given a step by step guide on what to expect during labour but you're given the chance to write your own. Grab a pen and make notes.
What is a Birth Plan?
A birth plan, is pretty much exactly what you would think, a plan of your baby's birth. It is a new way in which a healthcare professional can take a personal approach and assist you through labour in a way you wish. The birth plan is something which will contain information which you see as important to both you and your baby, it will mention things you wish to do, things you wish to happen and also things you wish to avoid, is possible. Your birth plan will contain your personal circumstances, your medical history and things you find important. Each person is different, each delivery is different so therefore every birth plan will be different.
Do I Need a Birth Plan?
A birth plan is not compulsory, your baby will be born, with or without a birth plan. But the option to plan your labour and delivery is there and you can have help from your midwife. We like to remind mums-to-be that this is not a step by step guide on what WILL happen, it's a plan of what you would LIKE to happen. You can't be too specific, you can't plan for your baby to be born at 2:48 on the dot as babies have other plans more often than not.
What Should I Include in My Birth Plan?
Your birth plan can include anything you find important. Your midwife will give you guidance so you don't sit their with a pen in your hand and an empty page. Just the same so you're not being too specific and getting ahead of yourself. There will be some things which have to be given the go-ahead by the hospital first so be sure to run things by your midwife or doctor. Below is a list of things you may wish to include within your birth plan.
Would you like your birthing partner present throughout the whole labour and delivery or would you like them to be asked to leave the room during some procedures. If your labour changes at all and doctors need to intervene, would you like them to remain present in the room? The choice is all yours.
You can choose where you would like to give birth, whilst your baby may not run with this plan, you still have a choice. You may plan to give birth in a luxury birthing centre but you may find yourself giving birth in the middle of Mothercare whilst arguing with your partner over the colour of your baby's nappies.
Do you wish to give birth in a different position? The choice is yours (within reason and only if possible). Do you wish to be in a position to be able to pull the baby out yourself or are you happy for the doctors and midwives around you to assist in that?
🎵Music, Lights and More:
What vibe do you want whilst giving birth? You can bring along a playlist (BABYGO Labour & Delivery Playlist on Spotify is great i've heard) which can help set your desired mood. You can also choose the type of lighting you want, the new trend is flameless candles, running off batteries. Another new thing people have been trying is mood lamps and an oil diffuser which can be used to spread calming scents through the room.
💉Natural Birth vs Drug Assisted Birth:
You can plan before your birth which medication you would like to receive, if needed. But in this you can also plan which medications you would like to avoid. You may want to try going for a natural birth which is your choice, and this will be respected, no matter how much you're screaming the walls down.
You have the choice of how you wish to deliver the placenta. You can either do this with a small injection of Oxytocin (a drug which encourages your womb to contract), then in theory your placenta should detach itself from your womb. Or you can choose to do this drug free and deliver the placenta, however this is not advised, but remember the choice is yours.
Do you wish to use specific facilities in the hospital, if available? Many hospitals have a room or rooms with access to a birthing pool or other birthing tools that you can use. It is your choice to use them but it is best to plan for this so the hospital know.
You have the choice if you wish to do skin-to-skin with your newborn or if this is not something which you find important. Also your hospital will want to know if you wish to do delayed cord clamping, which is very common at most hospitals now but again, if your choice.
🍼Breast vs Bottle:
It is good for the healthcare professionals to know if you wish to breast feed or if you want your baby to be bottle fed. They can help with both and give assistance if necessary.
You Can Change Your Mind!
Not everything will be smooth sailing during both pregnancy and labour. Your doctor may change the birth plan. Your body may re-write birth plan. Your baby may take that birth plan, screw it up and throw it straight out the window. Situations will change, so your birth plan will have to adapt to those changed.
Even once all of your birth plan is written down, even when you hand that to the hospital, and yes, even when it comes to pushing; You can change your mind. You have every right to change the plan, it's your birth and it's your body. Doctors will advise or possibly even step in if necessary but they will need you to sign and say you allow their decision to go ahead.