As a starting point to how to write a birth plan, I want to have a look at some of the very basics of who, where, and what to expect with it. Before I do though, let’s recap two very important points about birth plans:
- The benefit of a birthplan is how it guides you in planning and researching your options for childbirth.
- It is not a script, and doesn’t mean it’s how your birth will go, especially if you are in a hospital setting.
- With the experience of one birth behind me, this is how I’m breaking it all down in my mind. You may have different needs, experience s and outcomes.
The first question is one that impacts on many of the others:
Where will you give birth?
The location of your birth makes a big difference to how much ‘calling the shots’ you get to do. I’ve never had a hospital birth, but I know I also never want to. Others have had wonderful hospital births and would never feel comfortable in a homebirth. Neither is right or wrong, it’s a personal choice.
There are differences between home births and hospital births though.
For a homebirth, you don’t have to pack a hospital bag, although some do recommend you do anyway, in case. I’m not big on ‘in case’, because I don’t want to plan for ‘failure’. That’s MY view though. If I needed it I might kick myself in retrospect.
Looking at my original list of questions:
1) The name you’d like to be called?
This seems fairly straight forward, doesn’t it? But if you have two midwives attending you for hours in your home, you don’t want to be irritated by what you’re being called. My name is fine. Don’t call me lovey, sweety, darling or mummy. I’m not YOUR mummy. Especially during labour. If you have to talk to me at all, call me by my name. Does that sound silly to you? How will it sound when you’re in labour?
2) My preferred birth partner would be… Who is my…
There are two elements to this question. Who do I want there, and who do I not want there.
Don’t misunderstand me when I say this, but labour is called labour for a reason. You don’t want to be dealing with people you really don’t want there. In the lead-up to my first childbirth experience, I was pretty adamant that I didn’t want anyone but my husband and one midwife in the room during transition and the actual birth. My parents and sister were to wait in the living room. When it came down to it, however, when I felt the top of my baby’s head, I wanted them to be there with us, to share this, to be a part of it. I’m grateful that I did, and grateful that I was in a position to simply call them in. The point? You might change your mind in the moment. Be open to it and allow yourself room in your planning to be flexible to your needs and desires on the day.
Discussing this with your birth partner or doula before the time, however, is essential, because when you’re in the zone, with oxytocin flooding your system really isn’t the time to be confronted with unwelcome visitors. At the same time, make sure you have a back-up in mind. Nothing like a snow storm or crash on the motorway to delay your birthpartner and put stress on you on the day!
My husband was an amazing birth partner. I love my father in law, for example, but do NOT want him at the business end of giving birth.
3)I’m happy to be photographed/video taped during labour, yes or no?
I’d love to be able to afford a ‘real’ birth photographer, but that’s not the case. My sister turned into a great photographer for us last time, and she did us proud with the images she took. Just a word of advice though: get your equipment ready before or very early in labour. There’s little joy in settling down to watch the video two days later just to find there was no tape in the video camera, trust me!
Tip: Make a specific list of wants and don’t wants. If you specifically want a photo of the baby being raised to your chest, or the chord being cut or yourself mid-contraction, put it on your list and give it to your photographer before they arrive already. They want time to process and remember, so you don’t all forget in the adrenaline of the moment.
Next time: Writing a birthplan: Pain Relief Options