Do I need a Birthplan?

Is a Birth Plan going to work?

When it comes to planning your birth then a birth plan is what you can show your midwife who is looking after you in labour, but do you really need one?

There is no fixed answer for needing a birth plan as it is entirely up to you! There are some women who are definite over what kind of birthing experience they would like but there are others who would like to keep an open mind about their labour. I would suggest even before you start a birth plan you need to get as much information as possible from your midwife about all sorts of aspects of labour and delivery, so that you can make an Informed choice. If you feel strongly about a preference for your birth then discuss this with your midwife and she would be able to work with you in ensuring that they can help you with your request.

What maybe safe and practical for one pregnant woman may not be a good idea for another. Everyone is different and it all depends on your own personal circumstances and medical history and how well your pregnancy is going. Even some women with 'high risk' pregnancies can make some preferences for their birth - i.e:women going for an Elective Cesarean section can have preferences over which birthing partner they are to have, right down to what type of music they want in theatre to deliver their baby! So all is not out of your control if there are restrictions with your delivery somehow.

What can be included on a Birthplan

Here are just some of the items you would need to include on your birth plan.

Place of Birth -

Do you want a home birth, pool birth, hospital delivery, or on a midwife led unit/birthing centre. Also you can now choose which hospital you would like to use. Make sure that you go and look at their facilities to get the feel of the place and talk to some of the staff. Ask your midwife to have a look around the wards as well as this is more than likely to be where you stay after you have your baby.

Your Details -

Who you wish to have in the delivery room with you,either your spouse, birthing partner, relatives etc. whoever you choose make sure that they are happy with this as there are a handful of people who would not like to be there (including spouses) for various reasons!

Analgesia -

  • What sort of pain relief would you like to use in labour and is it available at your unit.
  • Does your unit welcome complimentary therapies -such as a birthing pool, reflexology, aromatherapy, massage, hypnobirthing techniques etc.
  • Can you have use of yoga mats and bean bags or a birthing stool.
  • Do you want to use any other analgesics such as Gas and Air, Pethidine, Remifentanil or have an epidural?
  • Can you mobilise with these and what sort of monitoring of baby can there be with each of them?

For the Birth

What position do you want to be in for the birth?

  • Sat up?,
  • on all fours?,
  • standing?,
  • or in the pool?

or whatever else you can think of! See Positions for Birth article.

Third Stage of Labour, Delivery of the Placenta.

What sort of 3rd Stage do you want?

You need to discuss this with your midwife.

When Baby has arrived

  • Do you want baby to have skin to skin with you?
  • Do you want to breastfeed or artificially feed your baby?
  • Do you want Vitamin K given to your baby? This helps your baby's blood to clot when it needs to and prevent haemorrhage especially when baby has had a difficult delivery.
  • Do you want a short stay or stay in hospital for a couple of days?

The maternity team who is looking after you in labour will need to be aware of your preferences for birth but remember not all birth plans go to plan even if you have the most comprehensive birth plan, you need to be flexible if complications arise with you or the baby.

Also remember that you can change your mind from your birth plan at any time throughout your labour and so tell you midwife who is looking after you!

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