Having a child is a super exciting time in any parent’s life. However, delivering a baby is hard work – it’s not called labour for no reason! When it comes to pregnancy, those nine months can often feel like years. The days drag, your bump gets bigger, you get more tired, and granted a little grumpier. Before you know it, you’re in your third trimester, and the days until you meet your bundle of joy edge closer!
You may have already bought lots of baby clothes and a swanky new child car seat, but have you created a birth plan? Whilst we know pregnancy, labour and delivery can be unpredictable, setting out an actual plan will help you feel more confident and in control. It can assist you in making those all-important decisions before your little one comes along.
Now you may be wondering how to write a birth plan and what to put on your birth plan. Don’t worry – we’re here to help you figure it out! At Kiddies Kingdom, we want to make sure your birth experience is as positive and well-informed as possible. Once we’ve taken you through it all, and you’ve decided what feels right for you, it’s time to put pen to paper!
What is a birth plan?
To keep it short and sweet – a birth plan is a document advising your medical team on your preferences before, after and during the labour and delivery of your sweet angel. For example – what pain relief you may want, where you want to give birth and who will be in the room with you. It essentially acts as springboard for how mummies-to-be envision their birthing experience.
How to write a birth plan
Don’t worry if you’re feeling a little lost and unsure about the different options available to you! That’s what your antenatal midwife is for – to help talk you through each one. Or you can attend an NCT course or birthing class, to discuss the pros and cons of each choice. That way you’ll be clued up on what it is you exactly want.
Before you start writing your birth plan, it’s important to find out what services are offered, at the hospital or birth centre you’re planning on delivering your babe. This information will also influence what you include in your birth plan. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! After all, the doctors and midwives want the best for you and your little one.
Our two top tips for writing your birth plan include:
We recommend keeping your plan concise and easy to read (one or two pages). Bullet points work best!
Whilst writing informatively is essential, it’s also important to recognise that you’re not the professional. Write in a tone which conveys respect and appreciation, for those who are going to bring your sweet angel into the world. Remember – the medics are there to help you and nobody likes a demanding mummy-to-be!
If you need a little inspiration, download the NHS birthing plan template.
What to put on your birth plan
Every mum is different and that’s ok! Some may have an exact idea of how they want to welcome their babe, whilst others feel happier leaving it up to the medical team. No one knows what you want better than yourself! So, include in your plan what you’re comfortable with, and what you feel is best for you and your bubba. As a starting point, the main things we recommend thinking about include:
Choosing who you want beside you whilst you’re in labour and during the birth is super important! Whether it’s your partner ready to take on the challenge, or your experienced mum who’s done it all before, make sure to write their details down on the birth plan.
Whoever you choose, all that matters is that you’re comfortable with your decision, as labour is a very personal experience. So, it’s important you feel completely relaxed with the person you choose to share that special moment, whilst in labour.
Where you decide to have your little one generally boils down to two options – home or hospital. A lot of the decision-making will be down to personal preference. However, it’ll also depend on what’s available in your area and how your pregnancy is going.
If you pick the hospital, you can either go to the labour ward or birthing unit. Birthing units are a less medicated space (e.g., no epidurals etc) with a delivering pool. However, you can only use this if your birth is uncomplicated. For mums who prefer to bring their babe into the world at home, it’s useful to know that it doesn’t commit you to anything. So don’t worry – you can change your mind at any time!
Hopefully, your birth will be a breeze! However, we all know in this situation, pain relief may be needed as backup. Thankfully, there are a lot of different ones available, from simple breathing techniques, all the way through to an epidural. Each one comes with their own positives and negatives. We understand getting your head around them all can be a minefield, so here are the most popular options:
Hypnobirthing – an increasingly popular choice which uses visualisation and mindfulness, to help you concentrate on your body and the birth of the baby.
TENS machine – great for early labour, it delivers tiny electronic shocks via pads stuck on your lower back.
Gas and air – a mix of oxygen and nitrous oxide which you breath in at the start of each contraction, to help take the edge off labour pain.
Pethidine – given as an injection, this drug will help you to relax from the pain of contractions.
Epidural – an anaesthetic delivered into your lower back, to numb you from the waist down.
Once you’ve decided on what sort of pain relief you’d like to use (if any), remember to jot it down in order, when you’re putting it into your birth plan. For instance, it may be that you’d prefer to try gas and air before going for an epidural.
Need a little extra help? Try this birth location tool to help you decide where’s best to deliver your bub!
Whilst you may not know what positions work best for you until you’re actually in labour, it’s still worth mentioning a few in your birth plan. For example, you could try:
- Sitting on a chair facing backwards
- Standing whilst leaning on a bed or against your birth partner
- Kneeling on the ground whilst holding a birth ball
- Laying down on all fours (especially helpful for backache)
- Rocking back and forth on a birth ball
Our experts recommend trying to walk around the room if you’re able to. If you get tired or your contractions get sharper, keep yourself moving by rocking your pelvis. Don’t worry about what you look like during labour, the nurses have seen it all before. Do what feels good for you in that moment!
Cutting the cord
For some parents, the thought of cutting the umbilical cord is one they’d rather stay away from. However, others like the idea of letting their other half cut it, so that they get that special bonding moment with their little one. If this is something you and your partner want, be sure to mention it in your birth plan!
Feeding your baby
It’s important to make it clear whether you’re planning to breastfeed, formula-feed or both. If breastfeeding is the way forward for you, you can also mention if you’d like any assistance getting things started. The midwives will be happy to help! If you definitely don’t want your little one having formula, make sure to communicate this explicitly on your birth plan.
After you’ve got your plan done and dusted, it’s a good idea to share it with your birth partner. They’ll be able to support you better if they know what you want. If you ask any mama out there, they’ll tell you that nothing ever goes exactly to plan, particularly when it comes to the birth. Though it’s not set in stone and things can change, a birth plan is a rough guide to help prepare you before the big day. You may change your mind once things get started and that’s ok! The ultimate goal is to have a happy and healthy little miracle at the end of it all.