Giving birth is less daunting if you have an easy to follow birth plan in mind to help the day go as smoothly as possible. Think of your birth plan as a guide to your ideal labour and birth. They help your midwife, doula and/or doctors understand what things are important to you and what you do and don’t want. An ideal birth plan covers everything from pain relief all the way to what you want done with your placenta; and should have back-up options in case things don’t go exactly to plan.
Here's what you should consider when making a birth plan:
- Organise a time to talk to your healthcare professional about your birth plan. They know your pregnancy well and can give you the best advice on what options you have on how and where you give birth. Sometimes in higher risk pregnancies, your healthcare professional will advise on the safest way to bring your baby into the world, and you might have less choices on how to give birth than a low risk pregnancy.
- Think about where you’d like to give birth, in the hospital or a birth center. There are advantages and disadvantages to each of these options and the best option will be different for everyone. Speak to your healthcare professional about what’s best for your pregnancy.
- Consider how you would prefer to deliver your baby. We don’t always have the option, but it is an important part of giving birth to think about, especially when considering your healing time after birth. Make sure you talk to your healthcare professional about your preference. Check out our article on ways to give birth here.
- Consider what kind of pain relief you’d like, if any. Some people like to have no pain relief and others choose to have the epidural or other types of pain relief such a gas or pain relief medicine. Talk to your healthcare professional about what is best for you and to understand how and when these pain relief methods are used.
- Talk to your healthcare professional about medical interventions that might be used during labour and how your baby is monitored during labour. Generally, this is done either continuously with wireless monitors on your belly, or every now and then with a doppler (ultrasound monitor) like they do in prenatal appointments.
- Share the birth plan with your healthcare professional and trusted birthing partner. Your birthing partner might be your partner, a doula, a close friend or a family member that generally comes into the birthing suite with you to support you during labour.
- Consider where and how a birthing partner can offer support. Your birthing partner can help communicate your birth plan with your healthcare team so you can concentrate on giving birth. They will also be able to help you keep a positive attitude and help you with your breathing techniques.
- Consider any equipment you might like to use during labour such as a shower stool, a bouncy ball, heat pads, a portable music player or an essential oil diffuser. Make sure you ask your hospital or birthing suite what will be provided so you can bring anything else you need with you on the day.
- Skin-to-skin time (also known as Kangaroo Care) after birth for you and your baby can help create a calm, bonding experience. When healthy babies are delivered, having an hour of uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact can help you connect with your baby and can help your newborn transition into life in the outside world easier. This might be when your baby tries to have their first feed of colostrum (special golden coloured milk you produce right after birth).
- Talk to your healthcare professional about delayed umbilical cord clamping or cord blood banking options after birth.
- Things don’t always go to plan, so it’s best to keep an open mind. What matters most is for you and baby to be healthy.
Once you’ve got your birth plan sorted, you can start thinking about what you’ll need to pack. See our hospital bag checklist for help.