Do I need to have a Birth Plan?
This is a question I am commonly asked (particularly as the pregnancy progresses into the third trimester) so I thought I’d provide a few thoughts on the topic.
First of all, what exactly is a “Birth Plan”? Generally speaking, it is a list that many pregnant women draw up (formally or informally) before the day of delivery, which sets out plainly their wishes regarding any number of aspects surrounding the day of the arrival of their baby.
Some of these aspects may include (but are certainly not limited to) such things as the birthing environment (e.g. music or lighting), who you wish to be present at the birth, how you would like certain aspects of the birthing process referred to, preferred positions for the different stages of labour, pain relief options and preferences around potential options for assistance with delivery.
I think it is extremely important that during the course of their pregnancy, all women should have access to relevant information regarding pregnancy and birthing, and the opportunity to discuss any questions, concerns or preferences they may have with their pregnancy caregiver. The aim of this process is to ensure that you are as well informed and confident as possible as you move toward the arrival of your baby!
The birth of a baby is an amazing event, and a real privilege to be involved in. It is marvellous when things go smoothly, but sometimes they don’t and the situation may change quickly leading to the need to move away from the “plan” in order to ensure the health and safe delivery of mother and baby.
Because of this, I personally think it is better to consider developing a list of birthing preferences rather than a definitive birth plan. This allows your wishes to be respected while at the same time acknowledging that there needs to be flexibility in some circumstances to provide a safe environment and appropriate care for you during labour.
You still haven’t answered my question – Do I need a Birth Plan?
In one sense nobody “needs” a birth plan (babies arrive whether lists have been made or not), but being well informed and considering what aspects of your labour and birth are most important to you will go a long way to ensuring a confident frame of mind.
I do think it is a very helpful process to consider what your preferences might be and discuss them early on with your caregiver. This will allow adequate time to discuss and address any preferences that may not be able to be accommodated (for example due to a hospital policy) and consider any alternatives.
The most important thing for us all is for the safe arrival of a healthy baby and mum!