Midwife Lisa shares her top tips for writing a birth plan. Before reading, remember that you don’t HAVE to write a birth plan, it’s completely up to you. But, it can be really useful for you, your partner and your midwife to have to hand.
Keep it short!
Your midwife does not have time to read six pages of typed requests. Using bullet points or brief sentences is best. Typed or handwritten is fine. Nobody cares about your spelling!
What you don’t need to write
There’s no need to write a long list of things you don’t want to happen. Imagine booking a holiday and saying to the travel agent ‘I don’t want to go to a rotten hotel with vile food and rude staff’; he knows that. Your midwife knows that you would prefer to avoid forceps, stiches and an emergency Caesarian Section. She will also know that you would like to be kept informed and have the chance to discuss any decisions that need to be made during labour.
Useful ideas to consider
- I always find it really helpful if the Birth Plan includes some information about you as an individual. For example:
- ‘I am quite an anxious person and will need a lot of reassurance’
- ‘My partner is squeamish and may want to leave the room at times’
- ‘I am very private and don’t like to be touched. Please ask me if you need to examine me at any time.’
- ‘My Mum will be with me and would like to cut the cord if possible’
- ‘I don’t like the thought of drugs and injections and would prefer to keep things natural if possible. I am planning to use a TENS machine and then the Birthing Pool if it is available.’
Remember, if you are hoping to use a TENS machine you will need to hire this in advance and learn how to use it (very easy).
If you have never experiences labour how can you be sure you don’t want any pain relief? Don’t plan to squat during labour unless you have put in a lot of practise…most of us could manage 30 seconds on a good day!
I have often been asked if it’s ok to burn lovely scented candles to aid relaxation…well, no, not in hospital. The combination of hospital piped gases and a naked flame could cause an interesting explosion!
Be flexible and open minded
Labour is the great unknown. If you ask 10 different women about their birth experiences you would hear 10 different stories. Although the process follows a similar pattern for most women, there is no way of knowing how long labour will last or how well either yourself or your baby will cope on the day. The vast majority do brilliantly (and younger mums often have advantage here with relatively quick and easy births). However some will find it more difficult and may need more assistance. This is fine and exactly why things like epidurals exist…to help you.