Sunday, 20 February 2011

Birth Plan: To write or not to write?

I'd love to say that it's a question that's been around for centuries, but writing a birth plan has only become a part of pregnancy during the last couple of years. I guess that is also the reason why there are so many different opinions on them and why many pregnant women ask themselves: to write or not to write?

When my midwife told me that I should think about writing my birth plan at some point in my last trimester, I didn't even think of questioning her. To me it made perfect sense to do a bit of research on the different options of pain relief or to write down what I want and don't want in case of an emergency or to be positive, if everything goes according to plan. But that's where friends with babies burst my bubble: If I believe them nothing ever goes to plan and no one will even be interested enough to look at my birth plan, let alone follow it. Well, to be honest I don't care: I will still write it. Not because I am sure everything will go to plan (you never know and I think it is important to keep an open mind) but because I believe it is a good way of getting used to the thought of labour. In my eyes it can't ever be wrong to know all the options you have and furthermore, who says that it's not going to be me who has a fairy tale birth? I like being informed about things. I like knowing what side effects different methods of pain relief can have and I like to make sure that my partner knows what I want in case I am in too much pain to speak. I personally think that having a birth plan even helpes me to stay relaxed about labour. Well, so far it does. Whenever people ask me if I am scared of labour I shake my head or answer with a clear “No”. I don't know if that's going to change when I am having my first contractions, but having done my research and having it written down somehow makes me feel that little bit more prepared and in control. I feel like I know my voice will be heard even though I might not be able to communicate properly and it makes me feel safe, because I know that I've done my homework. Do you know that feeling from school? It was always that little bit more relaxed when you knew you didn't have to hide from being caught out by your teacher, wasn't it?

Well, I know that in case of emergency I will do everything possible to help the medical staff to make sure my baby is born safely. However, I do also want to ensure that if everything goes to plan I have the chance to experience labour and birth in a for me perfect way. I know there is no such thing as perfect labour, well at least if I believe my friends, but what's wrong with hoping for it?


  1. I imagine it must all start feeling a lot more real - like it's really going to happen - once you've written the birth plan! Are you just including standard things like pain relief or anything a little more colourful like music? I know of a woman who insisted that her daughter be born with Eva Cassidy playing in the background. She didn't get the home birth she'd wanted (as they say, it's often unpredictable) but at least she had her music!

  2. I included things like who cuts the chord, if I'd like to have the injection for the delivery of the placenta and and and. Haven't added music and things but have discussed that with OH. Have you written one or plan to write one?

  3. I set my heart on my birth plan, natural labour, midwife led unit etc... Unfortunately my little ones cord was too short and the plan had to go out the window. Belle was born by c-section under GA in the end. I think it is great to plan and totally agree that it helps calm you in the late stages as you prepare, just don't do what I did and beat yourself up about it not going to plan after. Loving the blog, I'm a new follower :)

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  5. Agree with all of this!
    I have written a birth plan and am already telling myself not to be too despondent if it doesn't happen and at least I'm going in with some guidelines from which they can start.
    If you want to see a copy let me know - I'm sure they're all pretty similar :) - its not very exciting but I think it makes sense :)

    PS Sorry about the first comment, it went up before I'd finished writing! :)

  6. Thanks for your comments, ladies. I've started writing mine and I definitely have to find a way to make it more compact. No one would like to read 3 pages and I haven't been included things such as light, music and and and...

    I won't beat myself up if it doesn't go the way I expected it. I'll trust the medical staff and just try and go with the flow. My mum had to have a c-section and I can tell you now she didn't work or suffer less than anyone who gave birth naturally...

  7. I haven't written mine yet though I will. My husband has a fair idea of what I want but if it's written it means he won't forget if he starts to get stressed out. I'm having a home birth though so at some point I do need to work certain things out. I'm trying not to get too precious about any of it though because I know that we can't control everything. If I end up having a hospital birth and C-section, so be it, once I have my baby.

  8. I wrote one, although Baby Badger arrived over three weeks early so I hadn't printed it out! I do still believe it was worth writing.

    As you say, it's an excellent way of making sure you research the different pain relief methods, the implications of various interventions and injections. It's a good way of making sure your partner knows what your wishes are. It helps you prepare for when things don't go to plan: I made sure my partner knew that if I had to have a c-section he should make sure he got immediate skin contact with our baby.

    One thing I would say: I called mine my Birth Preferences because they were exactly that. Calling something a plan implies that you expect a certain course of events, and I'm guessing it would be hard not to be disappointed if it doesn't happen, whereas preferences have a pecking order of ideal, next best, etc.

  9. Hi - I found your site via Blow Your Own Bloghorn, and this particular post caught my eye (I know it's old - but it's relevant to me RIGHT NOW). I will be writing a birth plan (this is baby no 2) because Birth Plan no 1 was in fact followed pretty much to the letter. Perhaps the difference for me was having Plan A for ' in an ideal situation...' but I also had Plan B and C - things like 'if an emergency arises then....' or 'if baby goes to SCBU then....' blah blah. It certainly made me more comfortable that I understood the options and was comfortable with my choices BEFORE any potential stress.
    I focussed my plan on just the page in our maternity notes - and didn't bother with what I viewed as frivolous (like whether there was music or candles).
    Thanks for a lovely post x

  10. Hi, found you through blowing your own bloghorn!

  11. whoops - sorry!

    Found you through blow your own bloghorn!

    I had a very loose sort of birthplan. I had an idea that it was to help women feel 'empowered' through the birthing process. I didn't think I'd need to feel empowered, just cared for.

    Instead of a birthplan, I think it would be an idea for pregnant women to fully brief their birthing partners for what they would and wouldn't want to happen during labour, even formalise it in writing.

    Just a thought!



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