Congratulations! It is nearly time to have your baby. To have the birth you envision it is really important that you understand the birth process and what some of the birth challenges are that you may face along the way.
A birth plan is a great way to think about your birth options and start conversation with your health care provider and to ensure they have a good understanding about your birth wishes. It is also a great tool to use to discuss your birth with your partner or your birth support person so you can head into labour and birth as a team, as fully informed as possible.
Remember a birth plan is a guide and birth can be unpredictable, but a plan is a great tool to use to understand your birth choices and communicate effectively your desires. Together with our Midwife and Positive Birth Expert Narelle Tsiros we have compiled an outline for you to think through below.
How would you like your birth environment to look and feel?
Would you like to dim the lights or have natural lighting if you labour during the day?
How would you like the room to be lit? Would you like to have fairy lights/battery candles/aromatherapy placed around the room?
What would you like to hear? Will you be playing your own music/meditation/or would you like quiet voices? Would you prefer to birth in silence?
If someone enters the room, would you like them to knock? Talk to your birth support person or you?
Is privacy important to you? Would you like the curtain pulled?
What labour positions would you like to try?
On hands and knees
Laying on your side with a peanut ball between your legs
Using the squat bar
On the birth ball
Straddling the toilet
Staying upright and moving as needed
Do you want to request to not birth on your back?
What pain relief options would you like to consider?
Water (Bath/ shower)
Heat and ice packs
Breathing techniques to help you – slow and controlled, “wave breathing” or other options you have been practicing
Would you like to stay upright and gently walk/move around and change positions?
Would you like to use a birth ball? Peanut ball?
Epidural with the help of a peanut ball to change positions in bed.
In which order would you like to consider your pain options? (Please note this can change at any time)
What would you like your partner to do while you are in labour?
Set up a calm room at the hospital/place of birth
Massage where I feel I need it
Hydrate me and feed me
Play card games with me
Give me words of encouragement
Apply heat pack / cold pack as needed
Advocate for me as needed
Put on my fav podcast or music playlist
Ask our care provider to clearly explain any interventions needed prior to implementing them
Take photos or film the birth?
When would we like to ring family and friends to announce the birth?
During labour and pushing
Who would you like in your labour suite?
What would you like to wear giving birth?
Do you want a birth photographer capturing the birth?
Would you prefer to let labour begin on its own if all is well with you and your baby?
If our baby needs to be monitored, do you prefer wireless recording?
You understand the need for some vaginal examinations to check progress but would you like as limited as possible?
Would you like a warm compress to be applied to the perineum and guided during the pushing stage as baby's head is crowning?
Would you and your partner like to help guide your baby out?
Birth and the First Hour after birth
Would you like to discover the sex of your baby yourselves? Would you prefer your health care provider tell you?
Would you like baby to be born straight onto your chest if all is well with baby at birth?
Would you like to request delaying clamping of the cord for at least 2 minutes or until the cord stops pulsating?
Would you or your partner like to cut the cord?
What would you like done with your placenta? (Dispose, keep for encapsulation / collect cord blood as organised prior)?
Are you planning on breastfeeding? Would you like uninterrupted skin to skin contact in the first hour after our baby is born and follow baby’s cues for interest in breastfeeding? Or would you like support from your midwife?
Do you give consent for Vitamin K/ Hepatitis B injections after the first hour of skin to skin/breastfeeding has finished?
Would your partner like skin-to-skin time with baby in the birth room after the first hour has finished?
If a Caesarean is required
Would you like to opt for a planned caesarean?
If there is a need for an emergency caesarean, would you like to request that you are fully informed and have time to ask questions?
Does your partner wish to be with the baby at all times if you and the baby need to be separated?
Would you like to have a maternally assisted delivery?
Would you like music and quite voices?
Would you like to request skin-to- skin time as soon as is possible with baby after birth?
Any cultural or family tradition would you like to incorporate into your birth or after birth care?
As you can see there are lots of choices you can make through labour and birth. It is important to understand if your OB or Midwife has concerns for yourself or my baby’s health during your labour and birth, that you will adjust your preferences accordingly with full discussion.
Remember that these are your birth wishes, labour and birth can be very unpredictable and there is a need to be flexible, the most important thing is that both you and your baby are kept safe, and you trust your care provider.
Parents You've Got This offers virtual and in-person Birth Masterclasses. You can find out more here.