And some Key Sentences to include!
There are lots of different opinions out there on whether to write a birth plan or not. Some people will say that you can’t predict what will happen during labour and that writing a plan is setting yourself up for failure and disappointment.
Or what's the point if it all goes out the window anyway?
I get this viewpoint, I really do but the aim of a birth plan isn’t about saying ‘my birth must be this way’, there’s so much more to it than that and so many other benefits to writing one.
Benefits of Writing a Plan:
1/ Gets you and your birth partner on the same page -
I would always recommend writing your birth plan with your birth partner. Sit down together during pregnancy and talk through it, being on the same page during labour is crucial, the last thing you want is for them to do something that annoys the life out of you but how will they know if you don’t talk about it beforehand?
2/ Great communication tool between you and your midwife -
You might do a quick checklist plan with your midwife at some point during pregnancy but I would still produce a written/typed plan to take with you to your place of birth. Ask your midwife to read it and they will know exactly what you would prefer during labour without having to bother you. Or even better - complete it in the badger notes app, then it will be available electronically to all who work with you.
3/ You cover all options that are available to you before you go into labour -
There are lots of options available to you during labour, whether that be pain relief options, what position to birth in or how to birth your placenta.
The last thing you want to be doing is making decisions in the height of a contraction. Understanding all the options available to you before going into labour is such a powerful thing as you already know what you would like.
4/ Writing a plan B or C helps you to accept that there may be changes during labour -
Of course, we cannot predict what will happen during labour but we can plan ahead to a certain extent. Some people like to write a few different birth plans, one for spontaneous labour, one for induced labour and one for a caesarean birth for example. This way, they are able to adapt to any challenges that might come their way as they have already considered how they will manage.
So what key sentences should you include?
"Don't offer me pain relief"
If you want a natural birth, this is a really good sentence to write and explain to your midwife and birth partner. It is not saying you don't want any. Its just saying not to offer it.
By offering, they are implying you are not coping, this subliminal message is not helpful to your mindset for birth. In addition, when we are offered something, we naturally want to say yes. But you may not actually need the pain relief, or need it yet. If you wait until you ask for it, then you are fully in control of managing your contractions and comfort and more likely to experience a natural birth.
"I would like ... to catch the baby"
Your baby, is YOUR baby, and in a vaginal birth you get to decide who touches them first. If you want to catch your own baby, write that in your plan. You could also decide that your birth partner be the one to catch your baby. Let your midwives know in advance so that they can help position and support you or your partner to do this.
If I have a vaginal examination, I don't want to know how dilated I am.
Of course, this is up to you, but hear me out. Firstly, a vaginal exam is your choice, so remember you don't have to have one at all. That said, midwives do like to check progress this way, so you will be offered one every 4 hours. Now, imagine you have been labouring away for a number of hours, and told you are only 2cm dilated. How would that information make you feel? It may make you feel disheartened, disappointed, more inclined to give up and request an epidural, or accept augmentation with a drip.
But here is the thing, being 2cm means nothing. It is a measurement, based on one person's judgement, that is only valid at the time it is taken. It doesn't give any indication as to how soon your baby will be born. You don't have a magic 8 ball in your vagina that can predict how long labour will last! You could be 10cm 10mins later, or 10 hours.
Nevertheless, the information that you are only 2cm could damage your mindset - and that can affect your labour, so not knowing can be better. You could also have it that they tell your birth partner but not you until you are 8-10cm.
How do you write one?
Or where? If you are birthing at NHS Forth Valley, they have a section within the Badger Notes App that takes you through writing your birth plan. There are 25 questions to consider and answer in terms of your preferences for birth.
If you would like more advise on what to include, I offer a birth plan interactive e-book guide that takes you through writing a birth plan step-by-step with links to videos, research and expert advice. This e-book is available for free on any of my courses, or you can buy a copy on etsy here.
And that’s it, it really is that simple, you can’t go wrong.
Enjoy writing your birth plan