Tips on Choosing a Birthing Planby Jasmine Gurney
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been wondering about the different options that there are available to you when it comes to pushing (or not, if the case may be). Over the years, many women have given birth at home, in the hospital, in a pool, with or without pain relief, in various positions and some even opt for an elected cesarean or an epidural to make birth as safe as possible. Choosing and writing out your child’s birth plan is an important step you must work with your midwife to decide. Where will you give birth, who will be your birthing partner and your preferences around what will happen during labour and delivery?
Once your plans are decided, you can share them with your midwife, partner and anyone who may be looking after you when you go into labour. You may also want to keep a printed copy in your hospital bag, in case your midwife is not available.
Things to consider as part of your birthing plan:
Who do you want with you when you go into labour?
This can be a partner, parent, sibling or friend, whoever you will need to help you through. Try and limit it to one or two people as delivery rooms can get very crowded, very quickly.
Do you want to bring music with you?
Download your favourite album or create a calming playlist to listen to in the delivery room and help take your mind off the contractions and labour pains.
Do you want to move around during labour?
Changing positions or walking around during contractions may ease your pain and put less pressure on your lower back, or if you have existing hip or back issues it could be that laying on your back is not the best position for you. Informing the hospital that you may want to do this will help get everyone on the same page.
Would you like to use the equipment for pain relief?
This can come in the form of an exercise ball to relieve lower back pressure, gas and air, or a TENS machine to lessen your pain.
Would you like a water birth?
Using a birthing pool could help with pain as well as being a much more relaxing environment and ease any pressure from being on your back or on all fours.
What are your preferences surrounding medical intervention?
Doctors may wish to use forceps or a ventouse, or perform an episiotomy to help your baby arrive.
Will you want to breastfeed immediately after birth?
There are many benefits to this included enhanced bonding time, it is easier to spot issues with tongue-tie, it stimulates their digestive system and kickstarts the immunological benefits of breast milk to help fight off infection straight away.
Would you want to deliver the placenta naturally?
Following the birth of your child, comes the delivery of the placenta as it detaches from your uterine wall. You can either do this naturally (often coming with its own contractions and can take some time) or request an injection which speeds up this process.
Do you want your baby to be given vitamin K?
This is offered to all babies as they do not get enough from their mother during pregnancy. It prevents a rare but serious blood disorder called Haemorrhagic Disease of a Newborn (HDN) or vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB) which can result in severe brain damage or in some cases, death.
Do you want to check if the unit practices delayed cord clamping?
This has been shown to be better for your baby and has become common practice at most delivery units. Delaying the clamping gives the baby an additional 214g of blood, transferring more stem cells until the cord stops pulsating and goes white (takes around 1-5 minutes).
Remember, it’s absolutely fine to change your mind about your birthing plan. Things don’t always go exactly to plan and you don’t always know for sure if you want something until the time has come. Birthing plans are not fixed and if you’d planned for a natural birth on a bed, you’re well within your rights to request pain relief in a birthing pool!
A lot of women even have a plan A and a plan B, in case their first choice is not possible. It’s best to plan for the best-case scenario and worst-case scenario as giving birth is not always without complications. Naming someone to make a decision for you is also a good idea, as they may need to sign off on emergency caesareans and medical intervention if you are not able. Ensuring they have a copy of your birthing plan can ensure your wishes are always known, though remember, birth is different for everyone, but the nurses will try and follow your plan as best they can - prepare to be flexible and don’t overcomplicate things!