Birth is the most extraordinary experience and also the most unpredictable – it is a journey which transcends our expectations of what we are capable of. Preparation is so important, equally the letting go of feeling able to ‘control’ the outcome. The questions below are invitations for consideration which you may wish to research further or discuss with your healthcare professional to enable you to make decisions about your birth plan that you are comfortable with.
It feels important to remember that a ‘positive’ birth experience for parents can be achieved with or without interventions, at home or in hospital, vaginally or by caesarian.
Each birth is unique and even the best laid birth plans may go awry if nature doesn’t cooperate in the way we hope.
All we can do is prepare for labour equipped with an understanding of possible options and an idea of our own personal preferences. It is in this spirit that these questions are offered because we can take no responsibility for completeness of information or for the outcomes of any parental decisions;
If you have a few important points about your birth preferences we suggest you:
- Write or type your most important wishes in bold letters on A4 paper – write your absolute priorities at the top and work down
- Take a copy in your hospital bag for your birth partner to hold on to or stick on the wall
- Stick it on the wall at home for your birth partner to absorb beforehand and for those attending to see on the day (for a homebirth)
Who do you want present?
What are your preferences for pain relief? (Tens machine, HypnoBirthing, gas & air etc)
Would you rather pain relief is not offered to you at all?
Would you like water, hands on touching, birthing ball, comfortable rug?
Would you like water, juice or any food? (a sports cap bottle is handy)
Would you like space to move about or any music?
Would you prefer a dark or well-lit room?
Would you prefer lots, a little, or no talking from those present?
Would you prefer it if words such as ‘painful’ or ‘burning’ were not used?
Would you prefer no internal examinations unless considered essential?
Would you prefer nobody refers to how dilated you are?
Would you prefer continuous or intermittent use of the Doppler?
Would you prefer the midwife uses a Pinnard to a Doppler?
Would you like massage or oils?
Would you like those attending to respect your most comfortable position for birthing? (squatting, hands & knees, crouching etc)
Would you rather the room is peaceful with no loud voices when the baby is born?
Would you prefer no photography/video recording – be sure to make this clear to your birthing companions
Would you like the midwife to tell you when she can see the head?
Would you prefer, if interventions such as forceps or ventouse are advised to you, that it is explained to you clearly why the intervention is felt medically necessary and why it is being advised instead of other alternatives?
Would you rather experience a tear than an episiotomy?
Do you want immediate skin-to-skin contact with your baby after birth?
Do you plan to breastfeed?
Do you want the vernix to be rubbed off the baby or not?
Is it important to you that cord clamping occurs once it is white and no longer pulsing?
Who would you like to cut the cord?
Would you like the cord kept intact for a lotus birth?
Would you rather deliver the placenta without medication unless there is a medical necessity?
Do you need your placenta checked and stored by the midwife ready for encapsulation?
Is it important that you or your partner are present at all routine examinations?
Would you like your baby to be weighed and measured?
Would you like the Vitamin K injection or drops or not at all?
Would you like it to be clear that you are breastfeeding and do not want anyone to give your baby a bottle or dummy?
If you are not available to breastfeed or finding milk production challenging would you rather your newborn is fed by a Supplemental Nursing System?
Who would you like to be present in the delivery theatre?
Would you prefer to be shielded or to see your baby coming out?
Who do you want the baby to be given to first – mother or partner?
Do you want the baby to be offered the breast as soon as possible even if you are under anaesthetic?
It can seem overwhelming that any or all of these questions may have relevance in your birth plan but your birthing journey brings you closer to meeting your baby and is an exciting event to prepare for.
Ensure you have the support you need, trust and find confidence in your own body’s ability and be willing to let go of expectations as to how it will be.
To prepare with the support of other women you may want to contact the Positive Birth Movement to talk to other mothers in your area. You may also want to attend an ante-natal or HypnoBirthing class with your partner. And to ensure you have experienced and personal support for labour, birthing and beyond you may wish to hire a doula or independent midwife.