Giving birth is never predictable: often, if your labour is complicated or unusual, the process will be guided by your baby and your midwife, not your birth plan. But despite this, we still think it’s massively important that at some point during your third trimester you sit down and write your birth plan, even if you know you may not follow it to the letter when it’s time for your baby to arrive. Here’s why:
1. It gives you the structure to think about how you would like your birth to be. Do you want your labour to be medicated, so it can be as painless as possible? Would you prefer a natural birth, or to be in the birth pool? Writing your birth plan can help you think about and answer these big questions, which often you will have a lot of control over. Your birth plan may also ask you questions you hadn’t thought about before. Thinking about how you want your birth to be can also help calm any nerves and fears about the birthing process.
2. It sets expectations for your birth partner. Once you have chosen your birth partner, they will want to know what you expect of them during and immediately after the birth. Would you like your birth partner to cut the umbilical cord? Do you mind your partner being in the room when you are examined? How active would you like them to be in supporting you during the labour? The birth plan will help you answer questions such as these, and writing what you want down will help your birth partner give you the support you need.
3. It aids discussion with your midwife. When you have completed your birth plan, show it to your midwife and ask her to discuss it with you during one of your antenatal appointments. Discussing your plan with your midwife will give you the chance to ask questions and find out more about what will happen when you go into labour. Also, by listening to your preferences, your midwife will get to know you better and understand what's important to you.
4. It means you won’t have to keep answering the same questions over and over again. Is this your first baby? Who is your birth partner? Why isn’t the father at the birth? Answering the same question over and over can be, at best, tedious and, at worst, upsetting. Writing down all of this information in your birth plan means that when the midwives and medical professionals change shift they can read all of your personal circumstances without you having to outline it again and again.
5. Finally, it makes the fact you are having a baby seem more real. You know that big moving tummy you’re carrying around? It’s a real baby. And writing your birth plan forces you to think about the arrival of that baby: for many mums it’s the first time they consider that their baby is arriving shortly and they will become a mum! This makes writing your birth plan exciting (and a little bit scary!) whether you end up following it or not.
Our advice it to write a birth plan but don’t think of it as a set plan of how the birth should go: this will only lead to disappointment. Instead think of your birth plan as a set of guidelines (or birth preferences) for how you would like the birth to go, whilst preparing yourself for any changes of plan.
Don’t forget you can download your free gurgle.com birth plan: the perfect tool to help you plan your birth.
Did you write a birth plan? Did you find it helpful? And did your birth go to plan, or did you have to change your plan during the labour process? We’d love to hear your thoughts, so leave a comment below.