So you are pregnant and that due date is creeping up. Everyone from your mum, to your work colleagues to the gate post is asking you what you have in your birth plan. Just add that to the list of the hundreds of things you have to prepare for that due date.
But what is a birth plan? How do you write one? And do you even need one? I mean how can anyone plan for something that kind of runs it’s own course.
Yes, it is hard to plan for an event that is somewhat out of your control, but there are some things that you do have control over and those things are best noted down as on the day you’ll probs be a little distracted by the labour pains and all of the other events of the day – like pushing out your baby!!
What is a Birth Plan?
A birth plan is basically a run down of your wishes for your labour and delivery. In your birth plan you can include anything that you think will make your labour and birth as comfortable and safe as possible.
Bear in mind though, it is hard to predict the unpredictable. Things may change and your doctor may need to make some changes before or during your labour so try to stay flexible within your birth plan.
Where do you want to have your baby?
There is a world of choice out there when it comes to where to give birth. You may want a home birth. Or a water birth. Or you may have already booked in to a hospital. Either way, this is a good thing to pop at the top of your Birth Plan. It’s also a really good idea to add in a Plan B should things change along the way such as the position of baby, or your personal health, or bub’s health
Who do you want with you?
Who do you want with you on the big day? Do you want someone with you the whole time and if so who is that person? What about your parents? Best friend? Sibling? Do you want to set an expectation of when they can come and when they should leave? Is there anyone you absolutely do not want to visit you during this time?
Just remember the whole point of having anyone with you is to create an environment of support during an often unpredictable time. So choose wisely and don’t worry if you may offend by leaving some people out. Best you get this difficult part out of the way before labour to avoid any conflict or upset on the day.
This is your birthing journey, not theirs and your wishes and needs are paramount.
All things considered, how do you want your birth environment to look and feel like? Do you want music and if so what kind? If you do, you can create a play list and give it to your main birth support person to play on the day. Do you like incense, or candles or aromatherapy and will the place where you plan on giving birth allow any or all of these?
What birthing aids are you going to want in labour? Do you have a favourite bean bag, or a stability ball that will help on the day? Are there items in your life that you will need with you that provide comfort?
Note any special needs you may have that may impact the birthing experience such as any disabilities, allergies, religion or diet.
Do you want be administered pain relief or not? If yes, what kind? What kinds are a big no-no to you?
Natural pain relief options are a great start and can include heat or cold packs, massage, meditation, warm showers or bath, dancing, acupuncture, acupressure or hypnosis.
Medical pain relief options can include a TENS machine, nitrous oxide otherwise known as laughing gas, pethidine, or an epidural.
While you’re considering your options it is a good idea to ask your doctor about your options for pain relief as well as any questions you have about them.
Your Emergency Birth Plan
If things don’t go to plan how do you want events to play out?
If your labour is slow do you want your caregiver to speed it up? If you need a caesarean do you want your partner in there with you?
As much as planning is a crucial part of the birthing experience, it is also important to remember that often things don’t go to plan. Your gorgeous little bub may have their own plans when it comes making their way into the world to meet you – and that’s okay too!
The Umbilical Cord
Who would you like to cut the umbilical cord? You? Your birth partner? The doctor?
Would you like delayed cord clamping? There is a bit of debate about the benefits of delayed cord clamping so do some research and talk to your doctor about this before you add this to your Birth Plan.
Post Natal Care
Would you like immediate skin to skin contact with you? This is encouraged in Australian hospitals but what if this is not possible for some reason? If that is the case would you like your partner to have this.
Vitamin K and Hep B injections for baby are standard in Australian hospitals. If you don’t want your baby to receive these you will need to make this clear before the birth.
Feeding your Baby Immediately after Birth
Be clear about whether you want to breastfeed or bottle feed. What are your wishes should you be unable to feed straight away eg. pre expressed colostrum, donor milk, bottle.
Would you like baby to “breast crawl’ and self attach for the first feed?
Post Birth Visitors
It’s a good idea to set a plan for visitors after the birth. Bear in mind that you will be tired and hungry and will want some time to rest and time to bond with your baby. You may want just your nearest & dearest to visit you both in hospital or you may even want everyone to wait to visit you & baby when you get home. Best to plan this one now so that there are no unwelcome or upset visitors.
Sharing your Birth Plan
It is important that your share your birth plan with your Midwife or Doctor at one of your appointments and preferably about 4 weeks before your due date. This way you can discuss your choices and any changes that may need to be made.
From the team at KJ Essentials for Baby we wish you all the best for the remaining term of your pregnancy and a safe & happy birth.