The Birth Plan
We have all been asked that question, do you have a birth plan – but what actually is a birth plan and are they worth having.
Firstly, I think its really helpful to look at the birth plan as a set of preferences rather than a plan, this hugely helps with your mindset and with any unexpected changes during birth. Often, especially if this is your first baby, we don’t know how our bodies will cope during labour and birth and we don’t know if the plan we have will be suitable for us. When things, ‘don’t go to plan,’ this can have a really negative effect on the way some women start off their parenting journey. Some women feel, ‘robbed,’ because their birth ‘didn’t go to plan.’ Others feel like they have in some way failed because what they wanted didn’t actually happen. This is where it can be useful to think of a birth preference instead of a birth plan.
Birth preferences help us to shift our mindset from ‘this is what I want to happen,’ to ‘ideally I’d like this, but if this happens, I’m ok with that because I’ve thought about it and prepared for it.’
Having birth preferences allow us to factor in what might happen, how birth might take a different route but also, how we do still have some choices, some non negotiables that remain regardless. These non-negotiables eg no matter what type of birth I have I want this music playing in the background, help women to feel like they still have an element of choice in the birthing process and control over what happens.
So how do I write my birth preferences?
Start with your ideal birth, what would that look like, what would the room look like, would the lighting be low, would there be candles, would there be music playing, would you be in water or on a bed, will you be active, will you be wanting some pain relief, what type of thing would be helpful for your birth partner to say/do for you. Are you using aromatherapy oils, do you want baby placed straight onto your tummy, are you delivering the placenta naturally or do you want an injection to speed things up. Do you want your partner to cut the cord? Delayed cord clamping and them to tell you the sex of the baby? All these things make up your ideal birth, and only you know what that looks like.
Then start factoring in some of the things that may happen – eg you may not be able to have a water birth because there are no pools – so if that happens, what would be your preference then? If you can’t have an active birth because of complications and you end up with a c-section, what would your birth look like then? You can still have some of the non negotiables even during a c-section, eg your partner can still cut the cord, they can still tell you the sex and you can still have skin to skin straight away if that’s what you’d like.
The most important thing about birth preferences is to talk them through thoroughly with your birth partner. They will be your voice during the time when you will be busy concentrating on other things! They will be able to ensure that you get the outcomes you want, but only if they know about them before hand! Clear communication is key at this time and your birthing partner will only be able to support you fully if they know what you’d like to happen in all circumstances. Having a birth preference plan to guide and remind them at a time when emotions can be high helps them to support you best during the birth and communicate to other professionals what you’d like to happen.
There are plenty of documents available to look at via the NHS and plenty of support available through our antenatal page with birth preferences too simply join
We can’t wait to have you there with us!
Cal and the BNB Team