A well written birth plan can be the difference between having the labour and birth experience you want or not.
WHY ARE THEY IMPORTANT?
Birth plans are important because they articulate your clear intentions of what you want for you and baby. There are many decisions to be made that impact you and baby and the last thing you want is for someone to be asking questions during labour.
A woman must feel safe, in a quiet and undisturbed space, so she can relax and not have to think ‘consciously’ about what might happen. In fact, it is impossible for a birthing woman to make well-informed, clear decisions during labour. Another good reason to have a doula!
WHEN SHOULD YOU WRITE A BIRTH PLAN?
A good birth plan will be a work in progress throughout pregnancy. From conception to birth is a 40 week journey of new learnings. With each new piece of information that is aligned with your philosophy about birthing, creates another piece of your birthing puzzle. By about 36 weeks pregnancy you will have clarity around what you would like for you and your baby and your puzzle will be close to completion.
DO NOT DOWNLOAD A BIRTH PLAN TEMPLATE!
There are many templates online designed for simply ticking boxes. It is important the way a baby enters the world, and every birth IS different. Think about how you want your birth to unfold and how you want baby to come into this world – ideally gently and quietly.
BIRTH PLANS SHOULD BE RESPECTED
Obstetricians and midwives often find birth plans frustrating. Generic templates from a prenatal course or online, mostly do not have any understanding of the hospital system and how it works. This inevitably is disrespectful to the facility and staff. So if you want yours to be respected then take the time to use words that will be respected.
WORDS HAVE POWER
- Only use positive language
- DO NOT list what you DON’T WANT but rather what you DO WANT (a list of I DON’T WANT indicates unresolved fears)
- Consider special requests, e.g. religious, cultural and clearly articulate
- If you have an opening sentence “as long as it is safe for me and my baby this is what we would like” This is a powerful statement, which covers all the ‘what if’s’ because the bottom line is safety for Mum and baby.
- Consider the environment, e.g. quiet, undisturbed etc. Trust your doula will set up the room just as you want.
- Consider ‘no directed pushing’, the ideal is to breathe baby out gently and quietly in your own time. Good for baby, good for Mum.
- Consider the environment when baby is entering – no loud noises, soft music (maybe), no talking, no ‘other’ hands on baby only Mum and maybe Dad, no ‘other’ voices, only parents.
It takes a newborn a very long time to adapt to his strange new world. We must all respect this. Baby knows Mum from the inside and his meeting on the outside is very important as it sets the pattern for how he comes into contact again and again. Make sure he is protected in the safe bubble of Mum, Dad & baby.
Your doula is the best person to guide you on constructing a birth plan that is unique.