How to Create a Birth Plan
Every mummy-to-be has her own vision of what she wants for childbirth, and many women find that being prepared to give both birth helps them to feel in control and create a more positive experience. However, it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to creating a birth plan. That's why we've put together this guide to writing the perfect birth plan to help you feel calmer and more confident about your impending labour.
What is a Birth Plan?
A birth plan is a document that details how you'd like your birth to unfold. Your birth plan should include information about everything from your delivery location to your preferred pain management. A birth plan should be prepared well before labour so that everyone is on the same page when your water breaks.
Who Should Use a Birth Plan?
Any mother-to-be who wants more control over her labour experience is encouraged to create a birth plan. It's a great way to get your preferences about labour and delivery out in the open so they can be discussed with your midwife or doctor and followed on the day.
It's important to keep your birth plan concise and easy-to-read. The last thing you want is confusion when the big day arrives.
You should also be mindful of your tone - if you include a lot of exclamation marks, for example, it can come across as demanding or pushy. It's also a good idea to include bullet points and checklists, rather than big chunks of unbroken text.
Don't be afraid to ask your doctor and/or midwife plenty of questions before writing your birth plan. They are there to answer any queries you have.
What Should I Include?
There are many potential topics that can be included in your birth plan, but it’s really up to you. Some women feel more comfortable outlining every detail, whilst others prefer to leave more decisions up to their medical team.
Your Birthing Partner
Make sure to name your birthing partner in your plan, whether it's your partner, a relative or a trusted friend. The important thing is that your birthing partner is someone you trust and feel completely comfortable with.
Where do you want to give birth? Would you prefer a hospital or home setting, or even a water birth? If possible, try to visit the locations where you'd like your baby born prior to labour. That way, if there is anything that concerns you, it can be discussed with your midwife in advance.
Some women prefer to wear their own clothing for the birth. Others would rather be in a hospital gown or dressed in layers so they can easily remove them if necessary. Discuss your preferences with your midwife ahead of time, as the best option may depend on where you will be giving birth.
It's no secret that labour is incredibly painful, so it's important to think about the relief options available to you. There are many options available to you, including medication and alternative therapies. Methods to consider include:
- Epidural. This is an anesthetic that is injected into your lower back to numb you from the waist down. According to research by Baby Centre UK, 29% of mothers opt for an epidural.
- Hypnobirthing. A natural approach that uses hypnotherapy, visualisation and mindfulness to help you relax and manage the pain.
- Gas and air. A combination of oxygen and nitrous oxide that helps to make the pain of labour more bearable. Many women opt to try gas and air alone before committing to an epidural.
- Pethidine. An opiate injection that eases the pain of contractions and helps you to relax.
- TENS machine. This is an electrical nerve stimulator that sends mild impulses to your lower back, which blocks pain transmitters and helps to reduce anxiety.
Of course, it’s best to discuss your preferred pain management methods with your medical team to make sure that you properly understand the associated benefits and risks.
Birthing positions can make a difference to labour. Some women find it helpful to kneel, squat or lean over during contractions, whilst others prefer being on their backs with their legs in stirrups.
Consider how you'd like to give birth before labour begins and discuss your ideas with your midwife and doctor ahead of time so they can ensure you get the best possible care when it comes time to give birth.
It's important to decide whether you'd like to breastfeed your baby or if you would prefer a bottle. There's no wrong or right answer; consider what kind of feeding options will make you happiest and discuss them with your midwife and doctor.
Breastfeeding for the first time can be difficult and many new mothers struggle to get started. It’s a good idea to bring a feeding and support pillow with you to the hospital to help you and your baby relax and get comfortable, which will make the process easier.
Changed Your Mind?
A birth plan is incredibly useful but remember that nothing is set in stone. You should feel comfortable changing your birth plan if the need arises. For example, some women choose not to have an epidural when they first create their birth plan but end up needing one after labour begins. Creating a birth plan is about being prepared and feeling in control, so you can make adjustments as you see fit.
Here at Unique Baby Store, we’re here to support you and all of your baby needs. For more on preparing to welcome your bundle of joy, take a look at our guide to creating a stylish baby nursery or don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to find out more about how we can help.