Updated: Apr 26
Pregnancy brings along many worries and stresses, one of which is creating the perfect birth plan.
So what is a birth plan? Well, quite simply it’s a summary of your hopes and wishes for labour and the immediate aftermath. It is usually a written document to help your midwife/birth partner but you can verbally share it with your birth partner before hand, and your midwife when you arrive at the hospital.
Here I’m going to give you five tips to help you create your birth plan.
1. First things first…. Alter your mind set to think of your birth plan as your “birth preferences”. How often do things go to plan in life? Well, labour is no different! Things will probably change along the way but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing so long as you go in with an open mind and are willing to make changes along the way where needed you can still have a positive birth experience.
2. Know that you are in control along the way. If you feel uncomfortable with something, speak up and ask the midwife to explain so you can make an informed decision. Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to do everything they suggest but you should, of course, carefully consider any advice they give you and weigh up the options - don’t be so rigid in your desire for a birth with zero intervention that you will not make changes along the way with medical circumstances dictate. Equally, don’t feel pushed into something that does not feel right for you. Trust your instincts.
3. Ensure your birth partner knows your wishes inside out and will keep a calm and cool head throughout. When you are in the throws of labour you may not always think straight so you need someone who can weigh up the advice being given, pan it onto what they know you want, and help you decide on the best course of action. They also need to be able to differentiate when your “I want an epidural” means you just need extra encouragement to continue as you are, and when it really does mean that you now want one even though you were adamant before labour that you wouldn’t have one. Perhaps have a key word or action which indicates that you really do want this sudden big change from your “plan”. Make sure you’ve discussed all scenarios prior to labour and have a plan for how to deal with any changes of plan!
4. Do your research – just because you are 100% sure you want a quiet serene water birth with zero interventions or pain relief, make sure you have done your research on pain medications and birth assistance tools so that you are armed with the knowledge if you change your mind, or if medical circumstances dictate that changes must be made. Knowledge is power, and being uneducated will surely leave you disappointed and frightened about decisions you may need to make.
5. Back to tip number one again because it really is important – have an open mind and be prepared for change. Birth isn’t only a positive experience if it happens in exactly the way you envisage it. Of course we all have a very vivid image of how we want it to go but the reality is it doesn’t always go like that and so long you have opened your mind before hand and are flexible, your birth experience can still be positive.
Both of my birth experiences were totally different and neither went how I envisaged but that doesn’t mean they were bad experiences, particularly the second. Both times I had thoroughly researched different scenarios and so I was confident in decisions I needed to make – sometimes they were in line with medical advice and sometimes not! Ultimately, the decisions I made were the correct ones so do trust your instincts. I’ll reveal my birth stories in some future blog posts as I know everyone loves to hear a birth story (or I do at least!).
Keep your eyes peeled for a future blog which will go into more detail about the things you need to research and consider when preparing your Birth Preferences.
If you have laboured before, did your “plan” go to plan and would you be more flexible next time? Do you have any advice for Mum's preparing for labour?
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