Some hospitals include a special form with your notes, on which you can make a written plan of the way you would like your labour and birth to be managed. If you haven’t received one of these, talk to your midwife about drawing up your own plan. Even if there are still things concerning labour or the birth about which you are undecided, writing out a plan will help you focus on the type of birth you want. It will also give you the opportunity to discuss the birth in detail with your partner.
When drawing up your birthplan it is important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to give birth. Your plan should reflect what you feel is right for you, while taking into account your medical history as well as the facilities available at the place where you are going to have your baby.
A birthplan is a guide to how you would like things to be, but in the event of a problem this ideal may become totally impractical so you will need to be flexible. Once you have finalized your birthplan ask for a copy to be kept with your notes so that the doctor and midwife who attend you during labour have it to hand. Keep a copy for yourself so that your birth partner can refer to it if necessary.
Although your partner will be encouraged to be with you during labour, you may prefer to have another woman as your actual birth partner, especially if your partner is worried that he may not be able to cope with seeing you in pain.
Whatever you decide, make sure you talk about it together so that there are no misunderstandings and you don’t get upset about the final choice.
The following questions will help you prepare your own birthplan:
- Whom you wish to have with you during labour – your partner, your mother, a friend? You can choose more than one birth partner.
- Can your both partner remain with you if you have to have a Cesarean or forceps delivery?
- Are there special facilities such as birthing pool or bean bags available to you?
- Do you want to be free to move around during labour, or would you rather be constantly monitored while staying in bed?
- Is there any special position you want use for the birth?
- Do you wish to wear your own clothes during labour and the birth?
- Would you like music, soft lighting, massage or other therapies to help you cope with getting through labour?
- How do you feel about pain relief? If you want to manage without any, you will need to make sure that everyone knows. If you want pain relief which sort do you want?
- Are you prepared to have an epistomy if it is required or would you rather tear naturally?
- Do you want your baby placed straight onto your abdomen or do you want him or her cleaned up first?
- Are you going to breast-feed? If so, do you want to put your baby to the breast immediately?
- Do you want an injection to help deliver the placenta or would you prefer to wait for it to be delivered naturally after the birth?
- How soon after the birth would you like to go to home, assuming that there are no complications?