How to Write a Flexible Birth plan?

Researching your birth preferences can really help you to feel prepared. Birth plans may seem too optimistic and rigid for some, but we honestly believe they are a great opportunity to sit down and outline your preferences for birth.

This is exactly how we see it, as a chance to explore those hard to ask questions ahead of your birth. In the event that you are faced with decisions, or questions you will find comfort in knowing that you have already thought about it. Of course, we all know that things can change rapidly so the key is to be flexible.

A birth plan gives you a sense of confidence during an unpredictable time. Your birth plan does not have to be extensive or pages long if you don’t want it to be. You can simply note down your initial feelings towards your birth and go from there.

Remember to discuss it with your birth partner/team so that everyone is reading from the same sheet! This also ensures that you have a well-equipped advocate. A key part of your plan during unpredictable circumstances would be to include a statement about how positive and adaptable you want to remain during your birth experience.

Here are some things you may want to consider:

  • Your Birth Team or Birth Partner, Partner, Doula and an alternative named person, for contingency purposes.

  • How will you cope with labouring at home?

  • Comforts during labour - You may want to use movement and positions to ease discomfort, gentle yoga poses can help too. Pleasant music to soothe you or hypnobirthing audio can set the mood and create a positive atmosphere, Birth Affirmations for labour and delivery may be read aloud to you or you may want to recite them to, Scents can create a calming and comforting atmosphere.

  • Interventions and Pain Management  - ‘I would like to use a Birthing Pool for relief,’ Gas and Air, Pitocin, Pethidine, Epidural, Rupturing of membranes (if necessary). How do you feel about inductions?

  • Delivery - How do you feel about an Episiotomy, or the use of Forceps?

  • Skin-to-Skin - If delivering by C-section, do you want your baby to be placed on your chest soon after (where possible).

  • Cord Clamping

  • Delayed Clamping

  • Placenta - Assisted delivery, keeping placenta for alternative use.

  • Newborn Procedures - Vitamin K injection, When would you prefer your baby to be weighed and measure?

  • Perineal Care and wound care - Recovery after vaginal delivery, your aftercare in the event of stitches for C-section or vaginal tearing. 

Labouring at Home - Perhaps you’ll consider how you will manage at home as this is your own space where you can have some sort of control, or at what point you will call your practitioner or doula (this also applies if you are planning a homebirth). Thinking about the tools you’d like to make use of, birth ball, positions, movement, eating and drinking.

Pain management

You can list your preferred means of pain relief in order of preference. By doing it this way, there is some order of how you would like to be administered medication, if at all.

Here is an example from my birth plan,

“I will use relaxation and breathing techniques for as long as possible and move around as much as possible during labour, to encourage my baby to move downwards.”

Medication and Pain Relief (In my order of preference)

  1. TENS machine

  2. Gas and Air

  3. Birthing Pool

  4. Pethidine (If struggling to cope)

  5. If I deliver by C-section, I will accept an epidural or if I can no longer tolerate the discomfort.

If listing your birth preferences feels right to you, take advantage of this opportunity to think about your wishes in advance. You may want to discuss it with your practitioner and your birth partner, who will be your biggest supporter. Birth preferences are just that, so be open to making changes. You’ve got this!

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