My thoughts on Birth Plans?
While I’m not against the idea of a birth plan entirely, I do believe that the terminology we use has a massive part to play in how we perceive events, both planned and unplanned.
Something I suggest to my Birth Beat parents is to write their Birth Wish List – not a Birth Plan. The word ‘plan’ is quite rigid and can set you up to feel negative emotions if parts of your birth experience ‘don’t go to plan’.
Remember, no two Mums, births or babies are the same! So, it makes total sense, that birth plans very rarely go exactly as you wrote them.
What is the difference between a Birth Wish List and Birth Plan?
A birth plan is essentially a plan for the day of your birth. But as mentioned above, a plan is not the most effective way to prepare you special day… That being said, it’s super important to clearly define your birth preferences or, your Birth Wish List. These are things that you would prefer to happen or would like to have. Though, ultimately you understand that birth is a natural process and can’t be predicted.
Remember, anyone that tries to guarantee you a certain type of birth is not telling you the whole truth. What we aim for here at Birth Beat is healthy Mum and healthy Baby – and to keep in mind that there are lots of variations of ‘normal’ when it comes to childbirth.
Think of your Birth Wish List as a way to communicate your preferences with your healthcare providers. You should do this before your birthing day if possible so that they understand what you would prefer. Handing them a neatly typed, 5-page birth plan on the day probably won’t go down too well!
Writing a Birth Wish List is also important as a communication tool between you and your birth partner. (Your birth partner is whoever you’re going to have by your side throughout your labour.) Simply sit down with your birth partner, go through all the options together and talk about your wishes. It will open up discussion and ensure that you’re both on the same page before the day. The last thing you want to do is write a plan or wish list on your own and have your birth partner thrown in the deep end while you’re in labour. It’s all about communication.
How to write a Birth Wish List…
Before you can write an effective Birth Wish List, you need to understand what all your childbirth options are, and what your choices mean in terms of needing additional care and intervention.
The best way to do this is for you and your birth partner to get educated. Learn and understand as much as you can about childbirth processes and terminology. And, take a childbirth education course.
Do your research about what is best for you. Our Birth Beat Online Birth Course is an evidenced-based childbirth course that has been created with midwives, lactation consultants, physiotherapists, exercise physiologists and obstetricians. It’s completely online and on-demand, so you can watch and re-watch the modules from the comfort of home whenever it suits you.
Once you understand what your options are, write down your Birth Wishes. What would you like to aim for and try and do when bub makes their arrival into the world? Try to keep your Birth Wish List to a concise, one-page. Anything longer you’re probably starting to over-complicate it. And try and have yours completed by the time you’re about 36 weeks, just in case baby decides to come early!
Options for you to consider when writing your Birth Wish List:
– Where do you want to give birth? This will usually be determined earlier on and depending on your model of care.
– What are your preferences when you are overdue? What induction methods would you like to try or avoid?
– What is your dream birth environment? Things to think about include; who will be with you when you’re in labour, who will be in the room when you’re actually giving birth, low lights, natural light, music or calming mediations, what you’ll be wearing and creature comforts such as your own pillow.
– What birthing positions would you like to try? Do any of these need any aids such as birth stool, birth/physio ball etc?
– Whether you would like to be in the shower or bath?
– Your thoughts on pain relief options and your preferences? Gas, epidural etc. Is there any type of pain relief you would like to avoid?
– What happens if you end up needing a caesarean? Who do you want with you?
– Do you already know your baby’s sex? If not, who do you want to announce it? You, your partner, the midwife or obstetrician?
– Do you want assistance to deliver the placenta? Do you want to keep your placenta?
– Would you like delayed cord clamping?
– What happens immediately after birth? Do you want immediate skin to skin contact?
– Will you be trying to breastfeed?
– Do you have any special religious or cultural requirements that the medical staff should know about?
These are just a few of the many options you may consider when writing your Birth Wish List. Hopefully, these are enough to get you thinking and starting to consider what your own preferences will be.
Remember, when it comes to Birth Wish Lists, the most important thing is the get educated. If you understand the processes and the possible implications of one choice over the other, you are more likely to feel calm, confident and prepared for childbirth – even if things don’t go exactly as you’d hoped for.
Remember, no one can tell you what YOUR birth will look like. But if you are prepared for all outcomes, you can have YOUR best birth possible.
If you want to learn more about all your options and receive unbiased, evidenced based information only, our Ultimate Online Birth Course will teach you and your support partner everything you need to know. Find out more and join here.