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How to Plan for your Baby’s Birth

With a little one on the way, there’s a lot to consider – baby names, breastfeeding, bottles… the list goes on!

One aspect that can be particularly nerve-wracking is the birth itself. Although exciting, there’s a lot to plan for on this special day and many parents can feel a little overwhelmed.

To reduce delivery day jitters, it’s a good idea to make a birth plan – a list of written preferences for labour and birth that you prepare in advance. Many parents find them useful as it’s comforting to know that on the day of delivery, everything is planned and you can just focus on the health and happiness of you and your baby.

To help you write one of your own, here’s a guide to what you should include in a birth plan.

What should I include?

Before starting your plan, it’s a good idea to collect information about the birth itself. You can do this by chatting to your doctor, midwife or even other parents as they can tell you from experience what it will be like. Additionally, attending antenatal classes can be a great way to get the answers to any questions you may have.

As for what to put in a birth plan, here are some suggested points to include:

  • Relevant information from previous births, if applicable: Although it’s likely that your midwife will have this information, it’s best to include it anyway. It can act as a reminder for you to chat with your midwife about your previous experience, and allows you to discuss any worries or issues that you may have.
  • Choice of birthing partner: For some, they want the whole family joining, while others just want a single companion. Write down who you’d like to be with you in the room for support and whether you’d like to alternate between a partner, parent or friend. It’s also important to check how many people will be allowed in the room, as some units have a limit and make sure that the people joining you aren’t squeamish. We don’t want anyone fainting!
  • Important limitations/restrictions: Things like fear of needles, religious or cultural customs, potential triggers are vital to include in your birth plan. They’ll prompt you to chat to your midwife about the care they’ll be providing.
  • Choice of position for labour and birth: Many women have preferences about how they’d like to be positioned during labour. Add your thoughts to your plan, and chat to your midwife about whether it will be suitable for you on the day.
  • Active management of third stage of labour: Right after the baby is born, there are a number of options to consider too, such as cutting the umbilical cord, skin to skin and so on. Don’t forget to make note of these as they are important decisions to make.
  • Who will announce the sex of the baby?: For those who decide to wait until birth to find out the sex, remember to chat to your partner about who will make the big announcement.

How should I write my plan?

It’s worth noting that there are templates available for your birth plan, but it’s up to you to decide how long or formal yours will be. Your birth plan is very much open to personal interpretation, therefore you should write it in your own personal words.

Here’s a sample plan:

My name is _____ and my birth partner is______. This is our first/second/third baby. We hope to have a natural, intervention-free birth and would ask that if any such intervention is required for the safety of the baby or my own, that it is clearly discussed. Thank you for being here with us on this special occasion.

From there, you can break the process down into specific preferences and concerns that reflect the stages of labour. With regards to interventions, refer to the acronym ‘BRAN’ – what are the Benefits, Risks, Alternatives and what if you say No?

Remember, your plan isn’t set in stone

It’s important to know that if you change your mind about anything, that’s perfectly fine. Simply make your choices known, and the medical staff should do everything they can to accommodate you.

You should also note that while every effort will be made to follow a birth plan, there is also a chance that you may not be able to have the exact labour you’d planned. Emergencies do happen, and your doctor / midwife may ask you to deviate from your plan. Remember to expect a little uncertainty and follow the advice of the medical staff on this exciting day.