Birth plans

A birth plan records your preferences for care and clarifies what is important to you, while also helping your midwife to understand exactly the sort of care you would like to have so that she can do my best to help you to achieve it.

A word about birth plans

No birth ever goes strictly to plan, and sometimes there is a valid reason to depart from the birth plan, including your change of preference at the time of your labour and birth. Some families feel that because they have a birth plan, it will protect them from certain interventions or guarantee a certain birth experience. So before we go further, I need to be clear: things happen in birth. Sometimes things work out exactly how you want them to, but sometimes labour is a little longer, or a little shorter, sometimes babies' heart rates don't do so well in labour, sometimes women get exhausted, sometimes pregnancy lasts a bit longer than we expect – or a bit shorter than we expect … or blood pressure plays up … I am sure you understand my point. There are certainly things that you can do to lower your risk of certain complications or interventions, but you cannot really "plan" a birth so I think the wording gets confusing.

Your Birth Plan

There is no right or wrong birth plan. Once you have written your birth plan, the next step is to discuss it with your midwife or obstetrician.

Who will your support people be? Will you wear your own clothes or a hospital gown? If the baby's siblings are going to be present, does each child have their own dedicated support person?

Labour:

Do you want to eat and drink? How would you like to manage the sensations of labour? Medical pain relief – would you like it to be offered to you, or would you prefer to ask for it? Would you like to labour or birth in the bath / shower?

Birth:

Would you like a choice of birth position, or do you want to give birth on your back in bed? Would you like to push as your body tells you to? Do you want to touch your baby’s head as it emerges? Would you like to catch your baby? Consider how you would like the third stage to be managed (active or natural) Who will cut the cord Who will discover the sex of your baby

Postnatal and baby:

Breast or formula feeding? Hepatitis B Immunisation? Vitamin K? Drops or injection?

My Birth Plan

In answer to my clients’ most common questions, I have written my own “birth plan” (just the important parts) to help them know what to expect from me. Of course, the following is for a textbook normal birth and your labour may demand a few variations, or a completely new plan!

Labour:

Women wear their own clothes. I don’t offer medical pain relief. Women request it if they feel it is needed. Women labour in the bath / shower / water birth; active labour and birth is encouraged. I encourage women to labour and birth off the bed. Monitoring: I use the Doppler as a routine. Continuous monitoring is only used when genuinely necessary, and if used, I would endeavour to use telemetry to enable you to be mobile and use the bath and shower. Vaginal examinations: I would perform one at your request, if I am concerned about progress in labour or if there is some other need.

Birth:

All-fours or kneeling position (or other upright position) OFF the bed Instinctive pushing No episiotomy Physiological (natural) third stage; Syntocinon injection if needed for bleeding before or after the placenta is born Cord cut after the placenta has been born

Postnatal and baby:

Breast feeding on demand; baby has unrestricted access to the breast. Breastfeeding and bonding before attending the newborn exam and weighing and measuring baby Immunisations optional Vitamin K – oral or injection (injection if any risk factors are present)

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