Congratulations, you’re expecting a baby! Your due date is creeping ever closer and although you’re excited to meet bub, there’s one very big step in the process you need to get through first – the baby has to come out!
For most mums, having a birth plan in place can help relieve the stress and anxiety that comes with thinking about how that very big bump in your belly is going to make its way to the outside world. But where do you start? How do you plan for something when you’re not sure exactly what’s going to happen?
We’re here to help. We’ve put together this handy guide to help you understand what to think about and plan for D-Day.
Before you start
Do some homework
The only way you can plan for birth is to know what to expect, so it’s important to educate yourself first. Go to birthing classes, talk to friends and read books. Expose yourself to as many birthing options as possible to understand what might work for you.
Check out some online templates
Although it’s always better to design your own (so you can be sure to include everything’s that’s important to you), they’ll give you an idea of what you can include and how to lay it out.
Talk to your doctor or midwife
Depending on your circumstances, such as health, medical history and where you live, you might not have all the birthing options available to you. Talk to your GP, obstetrician or midwife about what they would recommend as good options for you.
Talk to your partner
A supportive birth partner is invaluable during labour. Talk to them about their own expectations and what kind of role they can play during labour.
Who to give it to
Your partner– labour can be an intense experience, so having someone else in the room who understands and can communicate your wishes helps.
Your obstetrician– it’s a good idea to run through your birth plan with your obstetrician (or GP or midwife) ahead of time. You can even ask them to add it to your medical file.
Your doula– if you plan to have a doula, you can also share your birth plan with them ahead of time so they understand how to best support you.
Your midwife/nurses– when you’re in labour, be sure to take extra copies to the hospital with you to give to the midwives and nursing staff taking caring of you on the day.
What to include
Your birth plan is for you, so a good place to start is with a little bit about you. Start with the obvious like your name, due date, and birth partner. Although it will be in your medical record, a quick medical history is also a good idea, like if you’ve had previous pregnancies and deliveries, any complications during the pregnancy, if you’re on any medication or have any allergies.
List who you would you like in the room with you. Just your partner? Or will you have a doula or a birth photographer? Will you have any friends or family in the room? And are you comfortable with trainee medical staff being in attendance? Remember to also check with the hospital you will be delivering at about what their policies are for who and how many people can be in the room.
Room set up
Hospital rooms can be sterile and uninviting. Think about if there’s anything you would like to do with the room to make yourself feel more comfortable, like dimmed lighting, music playing or using aromatherapy. Most hospitals can accommodate basic requests and may even provide music players. Just remember, you won’t be able to light any candles.
You don’t have to just lie back and wait for your bundle of joy to make their way out. You might like to use birthing aids during your labour to make the journey a little easier for you both. Most hospitals can supply aids like a beanbag, fitball, birthing stool or squatting bar.
Think about if you would like to remain active during labour. Do you want to take a shower or have a bath? What are your preferred labour positions – lying on the bed, kneeling, standing or squatting?
This is a biggie for most mums. Think about what kind of pain relief you would like to receive and when. This can range from a hot shower and a massage to gas or an epidural.
It’s important to list any procedures you would prefer to avoid. This could include an induction, use of forceps or an episiotomy. However, keep in mind that your doctor may recommend a procedure for the wellbeing of your baby.
After your baby is born, there are a few things that generally happen quite quickly, so it’s best to plan for this ahead of time. Who do you want to cut the cord? Would you like to delay cutting the cord? Are you happy to have an injection to speed up the delivery of the placenta?
Hospitals have a standard policy for how your baby will be cared for immediately after birth, which can include an injection of vitamin K at birth and their first immunisation for hepatitis B within 24 hours of the birth. You will be asked to consent to this so you should check with your hospital about what to expect.
Bonding and feeding
Many mums like to include skin-to-skin contact with their newborn as soon as possible after birth. Not only does it help you bond with bub, it’s also an opportunity to start the breastfeeding journey. Make sure your caregivers are aware if you would like to do this, and also if you have a preference to not formula feed your soon-to-be very hungry munchkin.
If you have any other special needs due to religious, medical or personal reasons, be sure to note them down. Do you have a disability or mobility issues that need to be considered? Are there any rituals you would like carried out after the baby is born? Do you have any special dietary requirements you need to be catered for.
Plan to be surprised
There’s one person you can’t share your birth plan with, and that’s your unborn bub. They might have their own ideas, and your carefully crafted plan might very quickly go out the window. Think of your plan as just preferences, and be prepared to be flexible. At the end of the day, the most important part of your plan is to deliver a happy, healthy baby, however that happens.
Read next …
Are you in the final stages of your pregnancy? To help you feel ready, here are a few more handy articles that you might like to read.
Ask other mums-to-be …
Want to share ideas around with other mums-to-be? Join the Mum’s Grapevine pregnancy groups and ask other mums what they’ve included in their birth plans. The Mum’s Grapevine closed pregnancy groups are safe and supportive Facebook groups based on the season you’re due.
Click below and join your group today.