Your Birth Plan/ Preferences
One of the things pregnant mums have to consider is what type of birth they would like to have. It is important to know about the types of delivery, pain relief, and choices you may be asked to make regarding your newborn.
It is perhaps better to use the term 'Birth Preferences' instead, as a plan suggests that any deviation from this may not be a positive thing.
There are two important points to make before we explore this topic further:
By all means, identify your birth preferences. Seek support and get informed (hopefully this page will help!) to maximise your chances of being able to have the birth you want.
And then remember, things don't always go to plan! But this doesn't have to equal a negative experience... And hopefully this page will help with that too!
Whilst this page will discuss when things do not go to plan, and will talk about the role of medical professionals, it is really important to note that you have many rights when it comes to giving birth.
Safe maternity care is personalised care, You are allowed to make choices regarding your birth and the care your newborn receives.
Some people like to term 'Informed Choices' for their baby, to make it clear that these wishes must not be ignored
When a deviation from your plan is suggested, you will want to ask questions before making a decision to change your birth or the care your newborn receives. You have the right to be fully informed and give consent at every stage and with every aspect.
TOP TIP from Sling Swing Plymouth:
When deciding on the possibility of using medical intervention in a non-emergency situation, it may be helpful for couples to use the BRAIN acronym.
B: Benefits—What are the benefits of doing this procedure?
R: Risks—What are the risks involved?
A: Alternatives—Are there any alternatives?
I: Intuition—What is my gut feeling? Does this procedure make sense?
N: Nothing or Next—What would happen if we did nothing or waited a while?
Check out: www.aims.org.uk for a comprehensive overview of each of your rights, and how to seek support if you feel your wishes are not being respected.
Birth can be unpredictable. Whilst you may dream of a certain kind of delivery, your baby may have other ideas! This is not meant to scare you further, but to encourage you to embrace whatever type of delivery you have.
It is important to remember the end goal: that your baby is delivered safely. This means that both yours and the baby's safety is of paramount importance, and so sometimes doctors/midwives may suggest a route that you hadn't previously planned on in order to ensure that both you and your baby are safe.
The reason we stress this point is that it is not uncommon for women to feel unhappy about their birth experience if things have not gone to plan. You may have dreamed of a certain type of birth, and if circumstances dictate a very different kind of birth, it may be hard to reconcile your 'dream' with the 'reality'. Negative feelings around the birth can lead to baby blues, or even post-natal depression, something we will be covering in more depth soon on our dedicated page.
The main thing is that you are informed. You should know about the different choices available and the possible outcomes so that you are able to contribute to discussions about the birth. This ensures that if you do have to deviate from your stated birth preferences, you will feel confident it is because all parties have decided this is the best option for you and the baby (use the BRAIN acronym above). You have to consent to any aspect of your care, and you do not have to take the advice of medical staff. It is your body. Knowing you have a voice and options will help you to feel more positive about whatever birth you have, even if you vow to try and do things differently with a subsequent child.
The last point to note is that the birth partner is key in this process. You may be exhausted, you may have side effects from drugs you have taken, or you may feel overwhelmed. If you and your birth partner have thoroughly discussed each option then they can be your calm voice in that moment and can also encourage you and ask the questions you both may have. There will soon be a page to cover the role of the birth partner', but for now 'you' in any section below should apply to you and your birth partner.
You do not have to have a written birth plan but you may wish to record a few key ideas in your hospital notes. Some things may not ever change e.g. whether or not you want your baby to have Vitamin K when they are born; whether or not you want a sweep. These choices must be honoured.
This menu gives you some ideas about what aspects you might consider for your birth 'plan'.