Writing a Birth Plan
Writing a birth plan is a great way to crystallise your thoughts of what is important to you about birth. It provides a fantastic opportunity for you to share your thoughts as a couple with your support team and medical staff, and to think about what areas you need to research a bit more. It can help you to outline your options and preferences. A birthing plan is not a guarantee of how things will work out on The Big Day, but it can help your support team understand you and your birth choices better.
You may like to consider some of the following:
Environment and Atmosphere
Dimmed lights, music, photos/video, aromatherapy (check with the hospital if you need to bring an electric oil burner), birth partner, support people, public or private hospital or home birth, labour ward or birth centre, obstetrician or midwife
Prelabour and Early First Stage
What would you like/need when you are still at home? How do you feel about being induced if you go over your due date? What natural induction methods would you like to try first? What methods of pain relief would you like to have available (heat packs, TENS machine, massage, acupressure, bath / shower / birth pool)? Hospital bag in the car, bucket in the car (in case you vomit on the way to the hospital), full tank of petrol in the car, baby capsule fitted, food and drinks (diluted apple juice / Endura / labourade) for while you are at home and when you go to the hospital.
Active First Stage
Freedom to choose positions and move around, not to be offered managed pain relief (you can ask for it if you want it), to minimise monitoring (of the baby, and vaginal examinations). How do you feel about having your membranes ruptured? How do you feel about student medical staff being in the room?
What methods of pain management would you prefer? – massage, touch, hot packs, acupressure, relaxation or visualisation techniques, TENS machine, Hypnobirthing or Calmbirthing, shower or bath, homeopathy, movement, sound, reassurance, gas, pethidine, epidural, aromatherapy, acupuncture, herbs? Have you allowed for contingencies? Would you like a vaginal examination before taking any managed pain relief, to help you make your decision? Would you like to be asked to wait another 2 or 3 contractions before making a decision about managed pain relief? Do you want a code word so that your partner knows you do really need pain relief drugs right NOW!?
Second Stage and the Birth
How do you think you would like to be positioned for the birth? Would you like to have the option of a water birth? (some hospitals don’t allow this, so check their policy, also check availability of a birth pool – you may need to hire or purchase one). Would you like to watch the birth with a mirror? Would you like to touch the baby’s head as it crowns? Would you like your partner to “catch” the baby? How do you feel about tearing or having an episiotomy? Do you have a contingency plan? Do you have a preference for forceps or ventouse if an assisted birth is necessary? Do you want photos/video taken during the birth or just afterwards?
If a caesarean is necessary, do you have a preference for an epidural or spinal anesthesia? Would you like to watch the baby being born? Would you like to be distracted, or would you like to know what is happening? Would you like photos/video taken?
After the Birth
Would you like to look at or keep the placenta? When would you like the umbilical cord cut – when it stops pulsating, or after the placenta is delivered, or wait until it drops off (lotus birth)? Who would you like to discover the gender of the baby? How do you feel about having a syntocinon injection? Would you like time with your baby to provide skin-to-skin contact and maybe a little breastfeed before the baby is weighed and measured? How do you feel about the vitamin K injection or oral dosage? How do you feel about the Hep B vaccination? Do you want your partner to stay with the baby at all times if you are unable to? Would you like a heat pack or a TENS machine or medication to help with after pains? When and how would you like to tell friends and family? How soon would you like to bathe the baby? How soon would you like to go home?
What else is important to you?