Where do you want to give birth?
How are you reaching that decision?
Who do you want with you?
How do you feel about induction?
What about pain relief?
Are you happy to have routine vaginal examinations?
What if you need an assisted birth? … or a caesarean birth?
Optimal Cord Clamping?
What are the options for delivery of the placenta?
The first hour with your baby?
“Birth Plans are not just idyllic wish lists lit by pretty tea-lights and trimmed with home-made bunting. A Birth Plan is a chance to take a detailed look at the huge number of choices and options available to you, to consider the many ways birth might unfold …” from the truly wonderful Positive Birth Book by Milli Hill (honestly, just buy it)
I meet lots of mums who’ve been told, quite rightly, that birth is unpredictable but so is life, that doesn’t mean we just drift through it without intention does it? So, if you’re someone who’s planning on just ‘winging it’ I’m here to tell you , you do so at your peril. There are things that you can do to maximize the chance of your baby’s birth being a positive experience, no matter what path it takes. It’s your responsibility to take the time to learn, question, understand so that you can make the right decisions for you and your baby.
The likelihood is that the midwife caring for you in labour will be someone who doesn’t know you. She will want to support you uniquely, but she’s not telepathic she’ll be delighted to have some guidance. Your partner is likely to be the person you really want advocating for you and knowing what you want/need inside out – having worked out Birth Plans together means he/she is going to be totally clued up.
Rather than being a vague list of how you picture your perfect birth, I’d like to encourage you to really, really think about it and maybe have a plan B too (or even Plans C, D etc.).
First of all worth bearing in mind that to guarantee that healthcare professionals supporting you during labour and birth actually read your plan it’s best if it’s short with bullet points. Midwives really want to support your wishes as best they can, but they’re really busy and marching in waving a laminated, weighty tome is unrealistic. Remember, you don’t need to put things like “dimmed lights, music, quiet …” because you’ll actually be there and be able to point these things out yourself. Rather, stick to things that are really, really important to you. Work out what’s non-negotiable and what you’re happy to compromise on. In particular concentrate on anything that might deviate from ‘standard’ care. Here’s an example.
Of course, it’s impossible to meticulously ‘plan’ a birth which is where Plans B, C etc. come in. Again – probably best not to present your midwife with ALL of your plans but have them ready to hand over if birth takes a different path and different discussions need to be had or decisions made.
Here are some considerations to have ironed out in case an unplanned caesarean is necessary (or for putting together a planned caesarean birth plan).
For speed and clarity build a ‘visual’ birth plan. You can download the icons from The Positive Birth Book for free here.
I appreciate that the process of doing these plans properly is going to take up a bit of time, but I also know how enormously beneficial it is for couples … any gaps in knowledge are going spring up – far better now than in the birthing room … you’ll both have time to get really informed on anything that you’re not sure about. The discussions that will arise between you will mean that you’re both on the same page when the time comes, understanding what’s important to you both and why … your birthing partner needs this knowledge and info (rather than it all just being in your head) in order to be able to confidently advocate for you. And, of course, any differences in opinion between the two of you are far better thrashed out now, with plenty of time for reflection, considerations and info. gathering.
So, there’s a pregnancy project for you … a really useful one. Any questions, gaps in knowledge that come up please, please get in touch. I have reams of info. that I can quickly ping over to you in an email totally free and I’m happy to do so.