Birth Plan

The joys and thrills of pregnancy far outweigh the physical and mental strain it has on the expectant mother. Enjoying the feel of the baby kicking in the tummy for the first time, enthusiastically shopping for baby essentials and the indecisiveness of what name to pick are a few of these thrills. Though still far off, plans for labour and delivery should not be ignored. It is perfectly fine to come up with a birth plan early in the pregnancy.

What Is a Birth Plan?

A birth plan is a channel of expressing an individual’s concerns, wishes and expectations to her healthcare provider with regards to labour and delivery. It helps put the doctor or midwife on the same page with the expecting mother. It expresses the type of birth one desires and what she approves and disapproves of during labour and delivery.

The doctor is mandated to fulfill the mother’s desires to the best of their capability. A birth plan helps a woman feel empowered and involved in the decision making process pertaining issues surrounding her labour and delivery. However, it is important to remember that in labor and delivery, unplanned events can present themselves and the doctor should feel that he has enough authority to make decisions that preserve the life of both the baby and the mother.

What Do I Need to Do Before Making a Birth Plan?

Knowledge empowers a person to make decisions that are accurate and relevant. It is important to be armed with the right kind of information before mapping out a birth plan.

1.      Get Advice from Midwives

During the routine visits to the antenatal classes, gather information from the attending midwives. Workplace experience has exposed them to various scenarios and they are best suited to offer advice on certain issues.

2.      Learn First Hand Experience

Mothers who have delivered before have a wealth of knowledge through firsthand experience. Talk to mothers who have delivered at your hospital of choice. Get to know if their wishes during labour and delivery were respected.

3.      Choose Where to Give Birth

Understand the common hospital practices so that your birth plan remains relevant and contains instructions that can work in your hospital of choice. If you opt for a home birth, talk to parents who have done it before. Let them talk you through their experiences and note their concerns and mistakes to enhance your birth plan and avoid common pitfalls others have gone through.

4.      Make Sure Your Partner Gets It

It is paramount that your birth partner fully grasps the birth plan. It is unfortunate for you to be in labour and your birth partner is confused as regards your concerns. In the confusion and exhaustion of labour, you need someone who will remain objective and ensure that your wishes are respected but within medical reason. 

What Should Be Included in My Birth Plan?

The birth plan should be simple, easy to understand and still convey information objectively. A perusal through the plan should bring a healthcare provider up to date with your wishes in the shortest time possible. Categorizing the information makes it presentable and easy to comprehend. The table below gives an ideal organization of a birth plan.

Your Consideration

Description

Birth partner

Identify who the birth partner is and express the time periods you require them to be present during labour and delivery. The need for privacy should be contained in the birth plan.

Delivery preferences

Choose position that makes it easy for you to push the baby. The doctor’s advice should be considered as choice is made. Also, indicate who should support you at this time and what help they are allowed to offer.

Pain relievers

It is essential to communicate the kind of pain medication one desires to use. Other non-medical pain relief methods such as relaxation, water, massage can also be used. Indicate what is not allowed as a pain relief technique.

Speeding up labour

Often the process of labour does not proceed as would normally be expected. The delay in progress can be corrected using medications. In the birth plan, indicate if the midwife can undertake such an intervention or not.

Birth pool

Some hospitals have birth pools. Communicate if you would like to use the birth pool for pain relief, to deliver or for both of these functions.

Other facilities

To enhance comfort, some hospitals have facilities such as birth balls, mats and bean bags. Some of these can also be brought from home. Indicate what kind of equipment you would like availed to you during labour.

Episiotomy preferences

Discuss with your doctor about his practice of episiotomies forehand. Express your opinion for or against them. However, keep in mind that it may be performed if the baby gets stuck at the vaginal opening.

Immediate moves  after delivery

Indicate who gets to cut the cord and at what time it should be done. Make a decision on course of action after baby is delivered. Should they be handed to you, placed on your abdomen or cleaned first?

Postpartum

The baby can stay in the same room with you throughout or can be cared for in the nursery full or part time. The choice is yours and should be well expressed in the plan.

Feeding

If one wish to breastfeed exclusively, please indicate this in your birth plan so that the nurses do not supplement your child’s feeds but feed him purely on breast milk. A lactation consultant if needed can be availed if indicated.

More about How to Make a Birth Plan

Once your birth plan is finalized, make time, sit down with your doctor or midwife and discuss on areas where both parties do not agree. Constantly review the birth plan during the course of the pregnancy to make sure it still aligns to you and your partner's wishes. Keep the birth plan as simple as possible; it should be no more than two pages. Prioritize on what needs to be in the plan and make it as objective as you can. Make several copies of the plan to ensure that everyone involved in the birth process has access to one. A birth plan that is well thought out helps you to be in control of the birth experience as much as possible.

Find out more on how to make a birth plan from the following video:

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