Your Birth Plan - How to Write One and What to Include
Knowing how to write your birth plan and what to include is something you need to do several weeks before your due date. A birth plan is simply an outline of your ideas for how you would like things done during the labor and birth of your baby. Many mothers find that simply having a birth plan helps them feel more confident about childbirth and allows them some degree of control during this time.
In most cases maternity hospitals provide a basic birth plan for mothers-to-be during antenatal classes. This can be useful as a starting point. However, if at all possible you should try to write up one of your own which is more detailed. (See our Sample Birth Plan.)
Once you have written up your birth plan you should keep a copy of it in your labor bag so that you don't forget to bring it along on the day of the birth.
Writing your Birth Plan
You can write your birth plan at any point during your pregnancy but it is probably best to finalise it nearer to the birth when you have had a good chance to think about all your options for pain relief during childbirth and your preferred birthing positions. Your midwife will probably ask to see it around 32 weeks into your pregnancy when she will discuss it with you and sign it.
It can be useful to ask family and friends who have given birth for some advice or pointers when you are composing your birth plan. Having already gone through the process, they will be in a good position to help!
Try to remember that your birth plan is simply a list of your wishes. Things may not go completely as you had planned and you can always change your mind at any time during the labor and delivery of your baby.
What to Include on Your Birth Plan
The name of your birth partner/s or doula
Are you happy for medical students to be present during the labor and delivery?
Any birthing positions you would like to try
Whether you wish to remain mobile
Your birthing environment, for example, do you want the lights dimmed as your baby is being born, have you chosen music to play during the birth or would you prefer silence, would you like to try giving birth in a birthing pool or chair?
How you would feel about the birth being induced if you go past your due date?
Are you okay with the idea of foetal monitoring throughout your labour?
Would you be willing to have an enema prior to the birth if required?
Would you like your labor to be helped along if it slows down, ie by artificial rupture of the membranes surrounding your baby or by the use of the hormone syntocinon?
Do you want pain relief such as gas and air, pethidine, an epidural (check if there is anaesthetist available all the time or just at certain times), a spinal block, TENS? (Note, if you are planning on using TENS, remember that you may need to hire/ purchase your own machine several weeks before your due date.)
Do you want an episiotomy or would you prefer a natural tear?
Would you like to see your baby as he/she is being delivered (you may need to bring a small mirror if this is the case)?
Who will cut the umbilical cord? Sometimes the mother or her partner like to do this.
Do you wish to wait for the cord to stop pulsating before being cut?
Do you want to hold your baby immediately after the birth or do you want him cleaned up first?
Are you intending on breastfeeding your baby immediately after birth?
Would you like to practice skin-to-skin contact (kangaroo care) or if you're unable to, would you like your partner to?
Would you like to start breastfeeding your baby and, if so, do you want the baby to be breastfed immediately or to make his own way to the breast after being placed on your abdomen?
Would you like to deliver the placenta naturally or would you prefer it to be sped up with the use of the drug syntometrine?
Would you like to keep the placenta or donate it for research/ extraction of stem cells?
Are you happy for your baby to be injected with Vitamin K?
Treat Yourself to Me Time!
Or, if you're currently struggling with a busy lifestyle and the added demands of parenting, try our Perfect Relaxation for Parents mp3 - take time out for yourself and awaken refreshed and ready to face whatever life throws at you!
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