It is vital to think of your birth plan in terms of letting your midwife and medical team know what you want.
Before you so much as pick up a pen, begin the process by reading other mums’ birth stories.
‘Read widely about all sorts of births, from home births and birth-centre births, mobile births and births in bed, to planned and emergency caesareans,’ says Sheena Byrom OBE, a midwife consultant, leader of the Midwifery Unit Network and author of Catching Babies.
Your next step is to do some research and make some basic decisions.
Your midwife will need to know what your stance on pain relief is, your feelings on having your baby’s heart rate monitored continuously, and your thoughts on medical interventions should your labour slow.
Who do you want with you during your labour?
Are you an extrovert or an introvert by nature? If you’re a bubbly extrovert, then the support of your friends or family might be important to you in early labour.
If you’re quieter, then you might prefer to labour in low light, with your midwife leaving your birth partner and you in peace for as much of the process as possible.
Do you like to be in control during decision-making processes, or do you feel more secure when others take charge?
If the former, make sure your birth plan includes a note explaining that you want every decision to be fully explained to you and discussed with you. If the latter, your birth plan might ask the medical team
to brief your birth partner, who can then relay key details to you.
You know yourself best, so by thinking about what makes you feel calm and relaxed, you can write a birth plan that gives you the best chance of a brilliant, personalised birth.
Keep your birth plan short and concise
It is crucial that you keep it snappy, because your medical team won’t have time to read a 20-page thesis.
If one of your requests is very important to you, explain your reasons for wanting it.
‘If this is your second or third birth, then your previous births can have an enormous impact on the way you feel about this one,’ says Sheena.
‘Positive births make women feel they can achieve anything next time round, but if there were aspects of your last that you don’t want to repeat, build these into your birth plan and explain why.’
‘You should also include what you want to happen in the event of other scenarios,’ says Sheena. ‘
So, if you planned for a water birth but end up having a caesarean, for example, what are your priorities in that new situation?
Thinking through these scenarios, so you’re able to assert your wishes if they occur, will put you back in control, whatever happens, and keep you involved at every step of your labour. And that’s what makes the difference between a good birth and a great one. A positive birth doesn’t depend on everything going exactly to plan: it relies on you feeling that you’re having the birth you want.’