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While we're sure you're already aware of how unpredictable and ever-changing each individual pregnancy can be, it always comes as a great help to prepare for the birth as much as possible. By creating a birth plan with your midwife or chosen health professional, you will be able to map out the details of your birth experience as you would like it to develop, while also preparing for any eventualities beyond your control. 

If you're unsure about what to include in your birth plan, or wondering how you can put these instructions in place, simply follow the advice outlined below:

What is a Birth Plan?

Although a birth plan is not an essential requirement for expectant mothers, it certainly acts as a useful reference for the midwives and doctors who will be looking after you, while also providing a great way to prepare for your labour in advance of your due date. 

While certain aspects will be affected by factors such as previous pregnancies and other medical history, the main aim of the birth plan is to give you as much control over the details of your labour as possible. From where you would like to give birth to your choice of pain relief, your plan should contain all of your preferences for the birth of your child, based on your own inclinations combined with the advice of your midwife. While it is vitally important that the plan should reflect your individual wishes, you should also remember the importance of flexibility, as you may need to adjust your plan to deal with unexpected circumstances once you have gone into labour. Your midwife will, of course, strive to follow the original plan as much as possible, but it is important to realize that not all your preferences will be achievable if circumstances change.

Where To Start

Before setting out a birth plan, you should seek out advice from medical professionals and other mothers in order to get a better idea of the pattern you would like your birth to follow. This will go hand-in-hand with your hospital appointments throughout your pregnancy, as well as your participation in local antenatal classes, which should give you countless opportunities to seek advice and assess your options. As you gather your information, you can note it down for reference when you come to setting out your finalised plans.

Once you have gathered sufficient information regarding the services available to you (along with identifying any possible constraints), you should then discuss these with your chosen birth partner. This will give them a chance to add any of their own suggestions, while also allowing them to gain a better understanding of how they can support your throughout the birth.

Things to Consider

When the time comes to put pen to paper and make your birth plan, here are the key things you should include in your specifications:
  • Identifying Your Birth Partner  - Name your partner and explain their level of involvement in your birth, making a note of any procedures you do not want them to be present for.

  • Pain Relief - Specify the type(s) of pain relief you would like to receive in order of preference, drawing attention to any you would like to avoid if possible. This should include medical treatments as well as natural forms of pain relief.

  • Position - Explain your preferred position for delivery, while also noting how flexible you would like to be in terms of your mobility during labour.

  • Location - This will include the geographical location you have selected for your birth, as well as your preferred delivery room style. This could, for example, include a request for a home birth.

  • Interventions - Include details of any interventions you would be happy to accept if the situation calls for them. This includes details such as speeding up your labour or assisted birth.

  • Heart Rate Monitoring - Provide details of how you would like your baby's heartbeat to be monitored during labour.

  • Third Stage Planning - This includes details for the delivery of the placenta and the cutting of the umbilical chord.

  • Post-Birth Details - Specify whether you would like your baby to be handed to you straight away or after cleaning, and explain your plans for feeding.

  • Emergency Care - As well as planning for any unexpected changes to the birth itself, you can also note your wishes in the event that your baby has to receive any additional care.

What if I'm Having a Caesarean?

If you've been advised to book a planned caesarean due to a medical condition or previous pregnancy, you will still be able to have a degree of control over your birth. You will still be able to choose the type of pain relief you would like to receive, although this will relate to the choice of anaesthetic and how it is administered. You will also be able to include your birthing partner in your plans, although they will have to follow the guidelines set out by the hospital. 

As well as selecting the medical details for your caesarian, you will also be able to decide on the ambience of the room, along with how much of the birth you would like to witness. This could include the amount of sound in the room, as well as your choice of if and when you would like the screen to be lowered during the birth. 

When putting your birth plan together, ensure that the opinion of your trusted medical professional is valued above all else. For assistance in creating your plan, ask your doctor or midwife for help, and use the information you have gathered during the course of your pregnancy. 

Here at First Encounters, we offer a complimentary pregnancy report with all of our scans, which can provide you with essential details about the health and position of your baby, in order to help you plan more efficiently for the birth. If you would like an additional glimpse at your little one before the birth, or would like to gain more information to help you plan for their arrival, take a look at our range of scan packages here.