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Why you need a birth plan? The birth of a child is a highly anticipated event. Many women may feel a mixture of excitement and nerves leading up to the big day and wonder whether they will be able to birth in the way they want to. One way to experience a wonderful birth is to plan and prepare for one…… and writing a birth plan can help you achieve this.

 

What is a birth plan?

A birth plan is a document outlining how and where you wish to give birth. It contains information on your desired birthing environment and preferences, your wishes around medical support and interventions and what you want to do if complications arise. It also outlines postnatal care for you and your baby. A birth plan is a good way to communicate with your midwife or obstetrician about what is important to you before the birth. It provides them with information about what you would like to happen during labour and what you would like to avoid. It is also important to remember that building flexibility into your plan is a good idea. I reccomend that women write a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C.

Why you need a birth plan? By writing down or discussing your birth plan with your care providers it provides you with an opportunity to learn more about what happens in labour and make all decisions about your care. Each hospital or birth centre will have different policies, procedures and facilities so it’s a good idea to talk about these before birth - especially if they may affect your birth plan.

It’s important to remember that your needs, wants and personal circumstances are as unique as you are, so having a birth plan that reflects your individuality is key. Depending on your medical history and birth preferences, what may be safe and practical for one person may not be right for you. By building a plan that suits your wishes and needs you will improve your chances of experiencing a wonderful birth. Your birth plan will also assist your support team to carry out your wishes. Ask your birth partner to bring a number copies to hand out to staff on the day and to learn and understand the plan completely. This way they will clearly understand their role and how they can best support you.

How to write an effective birth plan

Sitting down to write a birth plan may feel a little overwhelming at first but there are a number of steps you can take to make the process easier.

1. Learn about labour and birth
Use this opportunity to do some research on birth and pregnancy. There are a number of ways to educate yourself including talking to your pregnancy care providers, doing your own reading or taking a birthing class. You can also chat to other mums who have given birth at the hospital you plan to birth at or mums that have birthed at home, if you wish to do the same. By taking the time to educate yourself and learn about your options you will be able to make informed decisions and plans for a birth that best suits you.

2. Cover what’s matters to you

There are a number of things you can cover in a birth plan but not all considerations will be important to you. Depending on your preferences you may want to include information on

Items and people you will bring to support you - doula, photograpaher etc
Your environment - this could include lighting and music, birthing positions pain relief or assisted delivery preferences

Actions to take if labour slows down

Postnatal care options for the baby, including your wishes around breastfeeding, immunisations, babies first bath and what to do if you need to be separated  

Special considerations such as mobility, language or cultural needs

Birth type - perhaps you would like a water birth

The cutting and clamping of the umbilical cord

Your babies heart beat monitoring

3. Include your partner
This is a good time to chat with your birth partner about your wants and needs and see if you have similar preferences. You can also use this opportunity to educate your birth partner on your ideal birthing process, so they are ready to support and advocate for you on the day.

4. Keep it short and clear

Your birth plan should be easy to read and ideally no longer than one page. Hospitals are busy places and depending on the length of your labour you may have new obstetricians and midwives taking over your care when shifts change. This means a number of people will have to read your plan. By making your preferences clear and easy to understand you will improve your chances of having it read and being carried out by everyone in your care team.

5. Be open to change

Despite your best laid plans, birth sometimes doesn't go the way we want. Complications may arise which call for interventions you hadn’t planned on or you might change your mind about pain relief once labour begins. This is why it’s best to build some contingencies into your plan and to have explored prior to labour what may be an option for you…. and if things do change, know that you are making the right decions for you and your baby on the day.

 It’s a good idea to have your birth plan written by the 36 week mark of your pregnancy. This will give you time to talk it through with your partner and care providers and discuss any changes that may need to be made before the arrival of your precious new addition.

6. Keep it positive

The power of positive thinking and language cannot be underestimated in helping you experience a wonderful birth. Try writing down what you do want to happen rather than what you don’t. This can help to reassure you and your birth partner that birth is a beautiful experience, rather than something to be feared. Having a positive mindset will also help you feel confident, in control, and connect with your incredible birthing power.

Writing a birth plan and preparing for birth is an important way to help you achieve the birth you want. If you would like to find out more about my birthing programs and how I can help you plan for an amazing birth, please get in touch. I would love to hear from you.

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