Birth Plan: What is a birth plan and what should be in it?

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A birth plan is simply a guide to your birth partner, midwives and doctors during the birth of your child. This article will help you with your plan.

The birth plan states what your wishes are and what you’d like to happen during labour, the birth of your baby and those first few hours. You don’t have to write a birth plan, but it helps. Being relaxed helps with labour. Therefore planning it as much as possible can help ease any anxieties you may have.

You should also want to discuss your birth plan with your midwife. If you plan to give birth at a hospital or other facility you should have a tour to make sure they can accommodate your wishes.

Adaptability of your plan

You need to be adaptable with your birth plan. Not every birth goes the way it’s planned. Also during labour, you may change your mind, that’s absolutely fine. Remember the plan is only a guide.

What should be in a birth plan

A plan should mainly consist of five sections. Where will you give birth and how? The pain relief you want. What you want to happen if a forceps or ventouse intervention is needed or a Cesarean section. Then what happens with you and your baby after the birth. We’ll cover these sections in more detail now.

Where will you give birth and how

It’s up to you where you give birth, you can travel if you want. Although when you go into labour you probably won’t won’t to travel too far. You can have your baby at home, a midwifery centre or a hospital.

If however, you have a medical condition, it would probably be safer to have your baby at a hospital.

You also need to decide how you would like to give birth. Birthing pools are popular, do you want relaxing music scented candles or incense.

Pain relief

You should decide on what pain relief you want to have (or not have) at the birth of your baby. There are pros and cons of each. There are various types of pain relief available to you at a hospital. They are Gas and Air, Pethidine and Epidural.

There are also a water birth, tens machine and homeopathic pain relief.

Forceps or Ventouse intervention

You may need help (an intervention) during labour to deliver your baby. This is called an assisted birth and is done using forceps or a ventouse. Before using forceps or ventouse during a delivery your consent is needed.

Ventouse

A ventouse (French for cupping-glass) is a vacuum extractor and is a plastic or metal cup. It is placedĀ on to the baby’s head and kept there by suction. The midwife or doctor will gently pull on it during a contraction to help your baby out.

Forceps

With a forceps intervention the midwife or doctor will place them around your babies head. They will then gently pull on them to help your baby into the world. Forceps are metal spoon like instruments that are curved so that they gently clamp around your babies head.

Caesarean Section (C-section)

It’s good to plan what happens if things don’t go to plan. For the safety of the baby or your safety, the baby may need to be delivered by C-Section. You can decide if you want your partner at the birth in the event of a c-section. If you’d like skin to skin contact with your baby straight away. Also if you’d like to see the birth happen.

You and your baby after the birth

In this section there are a fair few things to consider. They are;

  • Do you want to wait for the umbilical cord to be clamped and cut and do you want your partner to do that?
  • Would you want immediate skin to skin contact -which helps bonding between you and your baby?
  • It’s recommended that babies are given vitamin-K as it helps the blood clot and reduces the chances of a now rare bleeding disorder. This can be done by injection or drops (which is slightly less effective)
  • You also need to add how you plan to feed your baby, breastfeeding or formula.

What next

Once you’ve got a draft of your plan, make sure you go through it with your partner. It’s important they know your wishes too, as things can become pretty ‘confusing’ during labour. You may want to go through it with a friend who’s given birth before. Also remember if you’re not sure about anything, speak with your midwife.

When you’ve written your birth plan make sure you put a copy of it into your hospital bag. If you’re not sure what to pack in your hospital bag you can read our article what do I need to pack in a hospital bag for guidance.

If there is something you’re not sure of here, be sure to speak to your midwife.

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