Writing a birth plan
Writing a birth plan is, for some women, an important part of their practical and emotional preparation for labor, birth and early motherhood. It can make communication with your birth partner, midwife and doctor easier. This can help empower you to participate in the decision making about your labor and birth, so as to provide a positive experience for you, your partner and your baby.
The time spent reading and gathering information for your birth plan will help to clarify what is really important to you for your labor and your baby’s birth. Encourage your partner (support person) to work with you in the development of your birth plan, and make sure they are aware of how they will be participating in all of this, and what you are expecting of them.
Keep your birth plan simple and maintain an open mind about your choices so that you can respond appropriately to the circumstances at the time. It is recommended that you indicate in your plan that this is a guide to your preferences and that you may feel differently once you are in labor, and would like to have the freedom and flexibility to review you choices at any time.
Select your support team
- Surround yourself with a positive, empowering and nurturing team. It is hard work supporting someone in labor, so ensure that your support team takes regular breaks to rejuvenate and refocus, so they are able to be at their best for you.
Setting the scene
- We have all heard of nesting, and most women, if feeling comfortable, safe and secure will actually move about their birthing space, making personal adjustments to set the mood. A relaxed, calm mother-to-be facilitates the release of endorphins (our body’s natural pain relief).
- Spend the last few weeks of pregnancy preparing for the birth of your baby as you would for a big night out. Take the time to make yourself feel beautiful, and enjoy the pampering, which has the wonderful ability to relax and rejuvenate. Pretty toes, a hair cut or a wax all do wonders for our sense of wellbeing.
- Perhaps have a camera at the ready, so you can have some special shots of your beautiful baby and you as a radiant new mother. Hint: black and white photos, capture the moment, but reduce the impact of little things such as flushed, sweaty faces.
- Listening to music facilitates the release of endorphins; those feel good hormones that act as natural pain relief in labor. Select your favorite music to take with you, perhaps music that you have been listening to in pregnancy that creates a sense of relaxation for you and your baby.
- Familiar voices create feelings of safety and security, and encouraging words help to create focus and distraction at the peak of a contraction. Alternatively, a quiet atmosphere helps to reduce distractions from the work at hand.
- Quiet time after baby’s birth. All too often the period after the birth of your baby can seem little more than a blur of activity and people talking. Take the time to spend a few quiet moments together as a new little family.
- Familiar smells such as, essential oils or your partner’s after-shave, again create feelings of safety and security.
- Choose oils that are relaxing, and not overpowering.
- Favourite drink you have been craving during pregnancy.
- Light nibbles…crackers or sweets to keep energy levels up.
- Ice chips
- Sacral (lower back) massage is wonderful for the relief of back ache in both pregnancy and labor. Your partner can practice this well in advance!
- Birth blanket of your own choosing for your baby to be wrapped in after birth. A bunny rug of special meaning, or perhaps a baby blanket that you have been sleeping with (smelling of you, what a delight for your baby!)
- Water is a powerful medium for a laboring woman, providing buoyancy, comfort, warmth, security, relaxation and a reduction in sensory stimulation. Water options in most birthing centers include both a shower and a deep bath.
- Clothing; perhaps some special PJ’s that you have just for labor.
- Touching your baby for the first time is a very special moment. If possible request that you, or you partner, be the first person to touch your baby’s head as it is being born.
- Skin to skin contact with your baby after birth is an enjoyable stimulation of the senses for you and your baby, as you smell, touch and look at each other (with or without the first breast feed).
- For your partner; the option of discovering the sex of your baby and/or cutting the cord.
- Indicate the types of pain relief you would like to have available, and if you would prefer the option of having it offered or being able to request it when you feel the time is right.
- Positions for reducing discomfort that you have found beneficial in the last few weeks of pregnancy, that you would like the freedom to adopt at any stage in labor and birth.
- Take the time to research medical interventions such as episiotomy, epidural or induction. This allows you to make an informed decision for you and your baby.
- Remember that labor and birth is an overwhelming and amazing experience that we each approach in our own unique way.
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