If you’ve never heard of a birth plan before, or have been wondering what and how it works; grab a cup of tea, sit back and read on!
A birth plan is a ‘statement’ set up by you telling your doctor and the nurses at the hospital what you would like to have before, during and after your labour.
We all have a certain idea of how we want our delivery day to go down, and a birth plan is a great way to document these ideas, and discuss them with your doctor, and later on your nurses (so make sure you remember to pack in into your hospital bag before you head to the hospital and have a few copies of it, just in case!)
Different hospitals have different policies on what is allowed and isn’t allowed in the delivery room, so I would suggest adding any questions you might have to your list for your trip on the maternity tour offered at the hospital you’ll be giving birth at.
Nothing is guaranteed
I’ll like to add a note here; a pretty important one too! While we might have certain expectations on how we want the day to work out, a birth plan should be seen as a wish list, and regarded with an open mind. There’s never any guarantee on the day you go into labour, and it could happen that even though you wanted to have a vaginal birth, you could end up having a c-section due to circumstances. And maybe your choice is a scheduled c-section and it happens that you go into labour earlier and there’s just no time to get to the theater and you need to have a natural birth (sometimes there’s no time for pain relief either). You’ll have to be flexible and accept that things might not go exactly the way you want them to. If the doctor picks up on possible complications and needs to take certain precautions and actions, it’s not because he/she doesn’t agree with what you wanted – it’s because he/she is making the best decisions to insure the safety of you and your baby.
Nothing is guaranteed when it comes to childbirth and even though you might have envisioned the day in a certain way, it’s good to keep an open mind to the reality revolving around it.
Both of my birth experiences didn’t go as I had imagined them! With Monster, I went into labour, a little earlier than we had expected him, and even though my water broke and there were two induction attempts to help me dilate, I was in labour for 12 hours which almost ended up in an emergency c-section. With Gremlin, on the day of my scheduled c-section, I went into full of labour a couple of hours earlier and the nurses had to schedule my delivery earlier than planned so that I could still have my c-section, or I would’ve had to have a vaginal birth, and to be honest, I didn’t want to go through that again… So yes, open mind is very important!
Once you’ve booked your bed at the hospital (which you can do anywhere from 24 weeks of your pregnancy, although most doctors recommend from 28 weeks), you’ll be given a wonderful little booklet with useful information about the hospital as well as the rules and procedures at the hospital. This helps a lot to get some questions answered that you may have had, or in turn create more so make sure you jot them down for the maternity tour! The booklet will also give you an idea of what you need to pack for your baby and yourself for your hospital stay, as well as what will be provided by the hospital (so you don’t need to pack double!).
So now that I’ve chatted about what a birth plan is, let’s move on to what is included in one and what you might want to add to you own. While these are just ideas to give you an idea of what is usually added to a birth plan, you can add your own as you wish.
Names and Due Date
Your name, your birthing partner’s name, your doctor’s name and your baby’s name (if you’ve already decided on one). Your due date will already be on your chart, but it’s good to have it written down just in case.
The nurses will already have these on file but it’s useful to have the information included in your birth plan.
Would you like to be mobile or stay in bed? Would you like to listen to music? Do you want a photographer in the room? Do you want a mirror present so you can view the birth yourself? Do you want ice chips present to keep hydrated (sorry, no eating or drinking during labour allowed!)? Do you want to wear your own hospital gown?
Pain Relief during Labour
Do you want any pain relief during labour or do you want a natural birth? If you choose to have a epidural, do you want it administered as soon as possible or do you want to wait until you really need it? Do you want an exercise ball present to help relieve your pain? Do you want to be mobile (until it’s not possible anymore) to help with pain relief?
Immediately after Labour
Do you want your birthing partner to cut the umbilical cord? Do you want to immediately hold your baby before the nurses clean up? Do you want the skin to skin? Do you want to breastfeed immediately? Do you want your baby to stay with you as soon as you’re moved to the ward or taken to the baby nursery? If there is a need for special care for the baby, do you want your birthing partner to go with the baby or stay with you?
Concerns and Fears
Fear of pooping during delivery? Feeling any pain with an epidural present? Feeling faint or nauseous?
IF You Need to have a C-Section
Do you want to hold the baby immediately after? Do you want the drapes lowered so you can watch?
If you’re having a boy, would you like a circumcision? If you’re not planning on breastfeeding or using a dummy for your baby.
As I mentioned before, these are just guidelines to help you along with creating your own birth plan. Maybe you have wishes than I didn’t mention above for your day, add them to your birth plan. Remember to discuss them with your doctor and see if the hospital will be able to accommodate your wishes; different hospitals have different policies and it’s best to familiarise yourself with them before the time.
I’m Having a Scheduled C-Section, Can I Still Have a Birth Plan??
Yes, you can! In fact, it’s not much different from a birth plan you’d set up for a vaginal birth!
I found this c-section birth plan on Parents24.com which will give you an idea of what you can include! And it’s printable too! If you want to set up your own, you can use the plan as a guideline as well as the guidelines above to help you create your own birth plan.
When is the best time to set up your birth plan? You can have a look at the second trimester to-do list to give you an idea as well as what else you can get to doing. You will also find the first trimester and third trimester to-do lists to help you make sure you’ve got everything covered before your baby is due!