Congratulations! You’re expecting. It’s a very exciting time, but it can also be a little scary, there’s no doubt about it. And aside from the impending motherhood, raising a child is a commitment for life, you also have to take into account the birth itself.
If you have an idea of what you want regarding the birth, that’s great. You might have seen documentaries and decided you want a water birth, or perhaps you have watched movies where everything is filmed live on Zoom. Your body, your baby, your birth. The best way to have the birthing experience you hope for is to create a plan. Here’s what you need to know:
What is a birth plan?
A birth plan is exactly as the name suggests. It’s a plan for the birth of your child, a written document that includes your hopes for the labour, the actual childbirth, as well as care once the baby is born — care for mum and bub.
A birth plan is a great tool for mum as it gives her more peace of mind when heading into the hospital, but it’s also important for doctors, midwives, and nurses, providing plenty of information about what the mum wants. You could also consider consulting with a birth doula to gain support through childbirth.
Do you need a birth plan?
Your baby, your body. No, you don’t need a birth plan, but it might help you to feel more comfortable. It also may help the medical practitioners to understand a little more about the care you’re after.
In particular, if you have certain things you do or don’t want happening during the birth or aftercare of your baby, then a birth plan is an easy way to announce that.
For example, when you’re in the throes of painful contractions, you might not remember to tell them that you’re keen on an epidural, or that you want to sit in the bath for the birth.
How to create your plan
There’s plenty of information about birth plans online, but you really want to make sure the information you’re following is as accurate as possible. Unfortunately, many “online voices” are just that — people with an opinion.
But that doesn’t mean it’s right or wrong. Follow your instinct on this one, and most importantly, talk to people around you and get their first-hand accounts. You might ask your mum or friends about what they did, talk to your doctor or midwife and see if they have any recommendations, and while you’re attending antenatal classes, don’t be afraid to talk to the teachers and other students to see what they are doing for theirs.
What to include
The options for your birth plan will depend on your own personal circumstances, but in general, you might include the following:
- Where you want to give birth. Hospital, home, or otherwise?
- What’s ideal when you’re in labour? Do you want music playing, TV on, bath or shower available? Do you want to walk around?
- Who should be in the room with you when you’re giving birth?
- Do you want to have a doctor present if possible, or is a midwife your preference?
- Is there a particular birthing position you want to be in when you give birth? Do you want to lie on your back or side, kneel, or squat?
- Do you want pain relief?
- Do you have private health insurance and if so, who with?
- For postpartum, do you want to donate or bank the umbilical cord? (it’s enriched with stem cells that can help treat over 50 life-threatening diseases)
- Do you want to have your son circumcised?
- Would you like to keep your baby with you in the room at all times once born, where possible?
- Do you want post-birth care in the home?
- Any further concerns you might have
Remember, be flexible
Keep in mind that birth plans don’t always go according to plan, and don’t be disheartened if they end up playing the wrong music, or you decide an epidural is the right option for you. Every birth is different, every mum is different. Take care of yourself and remember to be flexible. Birth plans aren’t meant to be set in stone — your baby ultimately decides what’s going to happen. The most important thing is that both you and your baby are healthy.