Putting Together A Birth Plan? Here Are Six Things To Consider
Part birth wish list, part research kick starter, a birth plan is a written document that mothers put together that describes how you want your labour to go, from who you want in the room to what medical procedures you are okay with. Ultimately, your birth plan acts as your voice when you’re not able to properly convey your preferences, like in the middle of a contraction, or caught up in the moment.
With all of the different stages of giving birth, there are a ton of things to consider when putting together your birth plan. So where do you start? What topics do you cover? What should you start researching? We’re breaking down the most important aspects of a birth plan below to get you started.
Where To Start
Speaking with your doctors or midwife before birth is a great starting place for your birth plan. They know what most expecting mums include in these documents and can talk you through anything you are unsure about. For example, if you want the option for different labour positions, ask your doctor what support equipment will be available to accommodate your preference and write that into your plan.
Doing your own research into labour and delivery can also be extremely beneficial so you understand all of your options when giving birth. Taking birth classes, discussing with your partner, and talking with friends and family about their own births can also be helpful.
The Most Important Part Of Your Birth Plan: Flexibility
When it comes down to it, childbirth is full of surprises and may not go to plan. This is why it’s important to remember to stay flexible with your plan and think of it more as a wish list and less like an instruction manual. Including backup plans in your birth plan can guide medical staff to making the second-best decisions, if your preferred plan is just not working out.
So, instead of writing: I do not want to speed up my labour.
Consider: I do not want to speed up my labour. I will move to prostaglandin only if necessary.
Birth Plan Template
Here is a template of headings you can follow while writing your birth plan to make sure you cover all aspects of the birthing experience:
You should first decide where you want to give birth. Most women in Australia choose to give birth in a public or private hospital, but you can also do your own research and consider a birthing centre or home birth. If you are choosing a birth away from a hospital, make sure to create a sound backup plan just in case you must be moved to a hospital.
List the people you want to have around you during or after labour. These people might be your partner, parents, sisters, or other children, or they may be your hired doula or midwife. Also plan who you want in the room during certain stages of labour, like if you want your other children in the room for the start of labour, but then brought somewhere else with a designated family member when you become more uncomfortable or it comes time to push.
When you envision giving birth, what do you picture? You can list things such as dimmed lights, music playing, a quiet room, your partner present the entire time, aromatherapy, tv playing, and more. Make sure to check with your facility before becoming too set on anything, just in case they don’t allow it or can’t accommodate it.
One of the first things mums think of when creating a birth plan is writing down their pain relief options. If you are open to an epidural, you should include that here. If you are planning for an unmedicated birth, consider writing down natural pain relief methods you’d like to try, including acupuncture, massage, hot therapy, bath/shower (if your facility accommodates it), and more.
You might want to list out your preferences for labour positions, even though this might change to what you are feeling in the moment. Position options include standing, hands and knees, squatting, kneeling, lying on the bed, and more. Keep in mind, if you are having an epidural, your options may be a bit more limited, but you do still have options.
Here you can also decide if you want to bring your own birth aids like an exercise ball, birth stool, bean bag, or any other support equipment. Your hospital may also provide some of these aids.
Medical Procedures For You & Baby
In your birth plan, you should also consider your views on medical interventions that occur during and after labour. This is where speaking with your doctor/midwife and doing your own research into procedures comes in handy. Do you want an IV? What types of fetal monitoring are you okay with? What’s your stance on an amniotomy or episiotomy? Do you want your partner to cut the cord?
For the baby, you might consider writing down your preferences for procedures like assisted delivery (forceps and vacuum), suctioning, delayed cord clamping, cord blood banking, Vitamin K, timing of first bath, feeding preferences, and more.
Even though your birth plan might not go to plan, writing down your preferences can help convey to medical staff what is most important to you in the birth of your baby. Ultimately, it’s a great way to explore and research your options and have a voice in the decisions made about your body and your baby.