A birth plan refers to your preferences for your birth, both during labour and after the birth.
As any woman that has given birth will tell you, it doesn’t always go according to plan when giving birth. However it is still a good idea to give some thought into what your preferences are for your birth and for after the birth and have it written down for the big day. The reasons for this is that your birth partners and care givers can be aware of what you want. It won’t be easy trying to get that across to anyone in mid labour!
Here are some guidelines to making your birth plan:
Learn about labour and the different options available for pain relief and coping with the pain. It is important for your care givers and birth partners to know what you think you would prefer, also bearing in mind that you might change your mind at the time so remember to be flexible and plan for things not going as planned!
Where & How You Give Birth:
- Hospital, Birthing Centre or Home Birth?
- Natural Birth or Elective C-Section
- If you choose a home birth have a back-up plan if you need to go to hospital
- Who will be present at the birth?
- Will you have a gyni or midwife, or both?
- Will you have a doula?
Questions to ask your hospital or birthing centre:
- Who is allowed to be present during labour and birth? (Fathers, close relatives or friends)
- Are they ever asked to leave the room and why?
- Can you move around during labour and can you find your own position for the birth?
- Are babies with their mothers all the time or is there a separate nursery?
- What are their policies on breastfeeding? Who will help you to breastfeed your baby or will they help you if you choose to formula feed?
- What are the visiting hours and visitors policy?
- How soon after birth can you go home?
- What is their policy on induction, pain relief and monitoring?
- What facilities do they have for premature babies or sick babies?
An intervention is an action taken by a midwife or doctor that literally intervenes in the birthing process. If you’re healthy and your pregnancy and labour are normal, you may not need any intervention.Talk to your midwife or doctor about them while you’re pregnant.
Your Baby After Birth:
- Will you get your baby immediately after birth for skin to skin?
- Will you get your baby to latch immediately after birth?
- Who will the umbilical cord?
- Will you wait for a while before cutting the umbilical cord?
- Will the father be able to hold your baby straight after birth and be with your baby while you are in recovery?
- When will you want visitors? Immediately after the birth or do you want some time to get to know your baby on your own for a while?
- Who will show you how to look after your baby?
Your birth plan can be simple or you can get right down to details such as having certain music playing while you are in labour and having candles lit. It is important to find out what you can and can’t do at the place you would like to give birth and to relay any special requests.