Sometimes we wonder if we really need to take the time to write a birth plan when everyone we have talked to tells us that it never goes according to plan. So, is there really a point to making a birth plan? Absolutely! The birth plan is more than just hoping it goes perfectly, it is digging deep into all the options in childbirth and preparing ourselves to be the most informed consumer of our own birth process. Preparing your birth plan allows you to discuss with your partner what is important to you to try and hold on to for your birth and what your thoughts and feelings are on things if they are offered or suggested to you during your birth. By having this conversation together your partner is now armed with the best information to be able to advocate for you when it is the most important time to do so.
You will not be able in the right frame of mind to make important decisions for your health care while you are busy navigating labour and birth. So, the more detailed your plan the better. Although this plan can be shared with your caregivers, the most important part of the plan is creating it together ahead of time to have the important discussions, and be the most prepared for the big day.
We need to go further than the typical birth plan that has mom moving around in labour, limiting interventions, having no surgery, immediate skin to skin and delayed cord clamping. This is the birth plan of 95% of expecting parents. The problem with this birth plan is that it leaves us unprepared for any other scenario that we could come across in our birth. What if we have a really long labour? Or our care givers suggest we need to be induced? What if you find it hard to move around or your caregiver asks about pain relief? We can use the preparation of a birth plan as an exercise in learning about all we can about birth, about our options in labour and questions we could ask when our caregivers are suggesting alternatives to our plan.
Here are some things to consider when preparing your birth plan
- Do you know what questions to ask when you are faced with a suggestion from your care giver?
Consider these 5 questions to ask using your B.R.A.I.N. (What are the – BENEFITS, RISKS, ALTERNATIVES, what do my INSTINCTS tell me and what if we do NOTHING)
- What are your thoughts about pain management? Do you know what your options are? Under what circumstances are you wanting to utilize any of these options?
- Do you have good options for non medicated pain relief that you want to incorporate into your birth? What will help you feel the most relaxed, the most calm, the most confident, the most safe?
- Do you know what interventions are possible? What are your thoughts on these interventions? (IV’s, Fetal monitoring, Episiotomies)
- Do you know your options if induction is discussed? If you have choices what are your preferences for induction?
- Do you have anything of importance to be considered or respected during your birth?
- Do you have additional support people? How will they be a part of your birth?
- How will your partner be involved in the birth process? Do they have the tools and information to support you fully and effectively?
- Do you know about assisted delivery options? (Vacuum, forceps) What are your thoughts on these? Do you know what questions to ask if this comes up?
- Do you know about Caesarean Sections? What are your thoughts about this? Do you know what questions to ask if this becomes a discussion at your birth?
- Do you have a plan for an emergency situation? Who will support you? Who will support baby?
- Immediately after birth, what are your expectations? Do you want delayed cord clamping? Do you want immediate skin to skin with baby if possible?
- Are you planning on breastfeeding? Do you have a plan for your first attempt at breastfeeding?
- What are you hoping to do for the first hour after birth? For yourself, your partner and your baby.
- Are you familiar with the procedures for baby after birth? (Weigh, Measure, Vitamin K, Caregiver check). Do you have questions? Are you ok with all of these procedures?
There is a lot to consider when making your birth plan! Sometimes we do not have choices, when things are emergent and your caregivers focus is on the health and safety of mom and baby, you just let them do whatever it takes to accomplish this, however in 99% of the cases, you will have time to discuss, explore options and advocate for your hopes for a positive birth experience. Taking the time to prepare before hand in creating your birth plan can make a big difference in how informed you are and can really make your birth experience less stressful and much more positive.
Happy Birthing Everyone!