We heard you have a little one on the way, mama! If it's your first time having baby in your belly, you may have already been told how important it is to "enjoy the journey". Although this can be applied to most things in life, it's especially true during those special 40 weeks with your little one growing inside you! However, as you continue on your journey, you may become familiar with the term "birthing plan". As you can imagine, introducing a little human to the world seems far too complex of a process to map out step-by-step. So, what is a birthing plan and how can it help you, mama? Here's all you need to know.
What is a birth plan?
Let's start by diving into what a birthing plan is for you. Well, it's a straightforward way for you to tell your healthcare team what kind of labor you would like. So for example, in an ideal scenario what would you like to happen and what would you prefer to avoid? You can cover anything here, whatever is important to you.
As a birthing plan is entirely personal to you, your version may completely differ to another mama-to-be's. It depends on what you want, your medical history, your own circumstances and the options at your maternity service.
How to write a birth plan?
If you have no idea how to write a birth plan, fear not. Some hospitals have a special form that you can fill out. However, don't feel as though you're restricted to a form, mama! This an important moment for you and you can write your birth plan on whatever you wish.
In fact, you don't even have to write the birth plan yourself! You can ask your midwife to help you. That way she can also answer any questions you might have about what happens in labor, what facilities are available to you and help you work out what your preferences and priorities actually are.
What does a birth plan look like?
Once you have learned how to write a birth plan, try to think of it more as a "birthing wish-list". You will see that your birth plan looks like a list of your hopes for your little one's entry into the world. This way you will provide a useful guide for your midwife or doctor but it's not a total shock if things don't go to plan.
Show your birth plan to your midwife and ask her if you can both run through it during one of your antenatal appointments in the weeks leading up to the big expected date. Discussing your plan with your midwife will give her the chance to get to know you better and understand what's important to you, so your plan is more than just words on a piece of paper!
What to include in a birth plan
You can change your mind about what to include in a birth plan at any time. It's totally up to you, mama! You may want to think about some things like:
- Who do you want by your side to welcome your little one to the world? Do you want them there during the entire process?
- Where do you want to give birth- at home? In the hospital?
- If you've chosen the hospital, what do you want to bring in your hospital bag? You may want to include some soothing balms or a gentle cleansing milk.
- What position would you like to use? Would you prefer to be lying upright with your back propped up with pillows?
- Would you like pain relief and if so, what kind?
- Are there any special facility requests you have, such as a birthing pool or birth balls?
- How you would like to deliver the placenta- with an injection to speed up the delivery or naturally, without medication?
- How you would like to feed your baby after birth? Do you want to breastfeed or formula-feed, or both?
- What are your thoughts on bonding with your baby through skin-to-skin contact? This is where baby will be laid on your belly straight after they have entered the world.
- At what point would you like the cord to be cut? These days it's recommended to wait at least one to five minutes!
These are just a few of the many guidelines that are generally included in a birth plan. However, get as specific as you like. Mention whatever is important to you, that involves music playing in the background, religious requirements, dietary requirements- alter it to your needs and what will make your birthing experience most enjoyable for you.
Lastly, don't worry if it doesn't go to plan, mama. What a birthing plan is is a helpful guide. It is not the be-all and end-all! The transfer from tummy to the outside world is unpredictable for both you and baby. For now, jot down your preferences and priorities for when the time comes and in the meantime, enjoy the journey!