A labour of love Your birth plan

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WrittenbyParenting Clubon27th November 2008


A labour of love: Your birth plan

The last push: Make your personalised birth plans for the big day

A labour of love: Your birth plan

The last push: Make your personalised birth plans for the big day

The birth of your baby is going to be one of the biggest days of your life - wonderful, exhilarating, tiring, emotional, possibly painful (sorry!) - so you'll want to make sure it's as special and memorable as possible. To make sure you have a labour and birth that ticks as many boxes for you as possible, work with your midwife on a comprehensive birth plan. On the day you might get caught up in the moment and it may be hard to make decisions. So while it's not compulsory to have a birth plan, it's a good idea to make sure that everyone who is going to be involved with the arrival of your little one knows your wishes so they can help to make it happen for you.

Follow our step-by-step guide to the 10 key considerations for creating your birth plan.

Step-by-step guide to creating your birth plan

  1. Where to give birth

    It is up to you where you want to deliver your baby. You can give birth in hospital, a midwifery unit or you can opt to have your baby at home.

  2. Birth partners

    You can choose to have your partner, a close friend or a family member with you for the labour and birth. It doesn't just have to be one person. It's entirely up to you!

    Tip: Whoever you choose, discuss if they would like to stay at the birth if you have to deliver the baby with the help of forceps or vacuum delivery, or if you are taken into theatre for a caesarean.

  3. Mum of two Nicola says

    "When I had my first baby I asked for her to be cleaned first but with my second, I couldn't wait to hold him so he was lifted straight onto my tummy. There's no right or wrong - as soon as your bundle of joy arrives you'll know what you want to do!"

  4. Equipment and special facilities

    Think about any equipment you might want to use such as mats, balls and beanbags to make labour more comfortable for you. You should also consider special facilities such as delivering your baby in a birthing pool. Some hospitals offer LDRP (labour, delivery, recovery, postnatal) rooms, which means you stay in the same room for the duration of your hospital stay.

  5. Managing pain relief

    Everyone experiences different levels of pain (or not!) during labour and there are many different options to help you manage this. You can think about your preferences now, but whatever you put on your birth plan is not set in stone - you can tailor it on the day dependent on how you feel.

    Options include:

    • Breathing and relaxation techniques
    • Being in water during labour and birth
    • Massage or acupuncture
    • A TENS machine
    • Gas and air (entonox)
    • Pain-relieving injections
    • Epidural
  6. Positions for labour and birth

    You'll want to find the positions that make labour easiest for you. Your antenatal classes are a good place to try these out, but remember you can vary your options on the day. Consider the following:

    • Sitting in bed with your back propped up by pillows
    • Standing
    • Sitting
    • Kneeling, or kneeling on all fours
    • Squatting
    • Lying on your side
  7. First contact

    When your little one arrives it's a momentous moment. Think about how you want to spend those precious first minutes:

    • You can have your baby lifted straight onto your tummy before the umbilical cord is cut, so that you have immediate skin-on-skin contact
    • You may prefer to have the baby cleaned before he or she is handed over to you. Don't worry, if you're not sure what you want to happen, you can decide there and then!

    Mum Louise says

    "I was absolutely shattered after a long labour and as I wasn't breastfeeding for medical reasons my partner gave our daughter her first bottle. It was a wonderful moment for him and one I'll never forget either. Finally he felt involved after hours of not being able to do anything!"

  8. Trainee attendance at the birth

    If you deliver your baby in hospital you may be asked if trainee staff such as midwives, doctors and nurses can be there for your labour and birth as this is part of their training. If you have a strong preference either way, it may be worthwhile putting it in your plan.

  9. Episiotomy

    An episiotomy is when a cut is needed in the perineum (between the vagina and anus), which may be necessary if the baby needs to be delivered quickly or if the perineum won't stretch enough and may tear. It's a good idea to discuss it with your midwife so you are prepared in case it is needed.

  10. First feed

    Not long after your baby is born he or she will need a drink of milk! Breast milk is the best form of nutrition for babies as it contains all the nutrients a baby needs and has lasting benefits for the health of your child. However, infant formula milk is also an option or you may want to consider a combination of breast and formula.

  11. Vitamin K for your baby

    Shortly after your baby arrives you'll be asked if you want him or her to have a vitamin K supplement, needed to make their blood clot properly. It will either be given by injection or by mouth. You'll have to consent to it being given so it's worth discussing the benefits of vitamin K with your midwife beforehand.

Giving birth really is a labour of love, but with a bit of planning you can try to make it the kind of birth that you really want.

Read more like this:
Say hello to your bundle of joy
Soothing strategies
Off to the land of nod

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A labour of love: Your birth plan

The last push: Make your personalised birth plans for the big day

The birth of your baby is going to be one of the biggest days of your life - wonderful, exhilarating, tiring, emotional, possibly painful (sorry!) - so you'll want to make sure it's as special and memorable as possible. To make sure you have a labour and birth that ticks as many boxes for you as possible, work with your midwife on a comprehensive birth plan. On the day you might get caught up in the moment and it may be hard to make decisions. So while it's not compulsory to have a birth plan, it's a good idea to make sure that everyone who is going to be involved with the arrival of your little one knows your wishes so they can help to make it happen for you.

Follow our step-by-step guide to the 10 key considerations for creating your birth plan.

Step-by-step guide to creating your birth plan

1: Where to give birth

It is up to you where you want to deliver your baby. You can give birth in hospital, a midwifery unit or you can opt to have your baby at home.

2: Birth partners

You can choose to have your partner, a close friend or a family member with you for the labour and birth. It doesn't just have to be one person. It's entirely up to you!

Tip: Whoever you choose, discuss if they would like to stay at the birth if you have to deliver the baby with the help of forceps or vacuum delivery, or if you are taken into theatre for a caesarean.

3: Equipment and special facilities

Think about any equipment you might want to use such as mats, balls and beanbags to make labour more comfortable for you. You should also consider special facilities such as delivering your baby in a birthing pool. Some hospitals offer LDRP (labour, delivery, recovery, postnatal) rooms, which means you stay in the same room for the duration of your hospital stay.

4: Managing pain relief

Everyone experiences different levels of pain (or not!) during labour and there are many different options to help you manage this. You can think about your preferences now, but whatever you put on your birth plan is not set in stone - you can tailor it on the day dependent on how you feel.

Options include:

  • Breathing and relaxation techniques
  • Being in water during labour and birth
  • Massage or acupuncture
  • A TENS machine
  • Gas and air (entonox)
  • Pain-relieving injections
  • Epidural

5: Positions for labour and birth

You'll want to find the positions that make labour easiest for you. Your antenatal classes are a good place to try these out, but remember you can vary your options on the day. Consider the following:

  • Sitting in bed with your back propped up by pillows
  • Standing
  • Sitting
  • Kneeling, or kneeling on all fours
  • Squatting
  • Lying on your side

6: First contact

When your little one arrives it's a momentous moment. Think about how you want to spend those precious first minutes:

  • You can have your baby lifted straight onto your tummy before the umbilical cord is cut, so that you have immediate skin-on-skin contact
  • You may prefer to have the baby cleaned before he or she is handed over to you. Don't worry, if you're not sure what you want to happen, you can decide there and then!

7: Trainee attendance at the birth

If you deliver your baby in hospital you may be asked if trainee staff such as midwives, doctors and nurses can be there for your labour and birth as this is part of their training. If you have a strong preference either way, it may be worthwhile putting it in your plan.

8: Episiotomy

An episiotomy is when a cut is needed in the perineum (between the vagina and anus), which may be necessary if the baby needs to be delivered quickly or if the perineum won't stretch enough and may tear. It's a good idea to discuss it with your midwife so you are prepared in case it is needed.

9: First feed

Not long after your baby is born he or she will need a drink of milk! Breast milk is the best form of nutrition for babies as it contains all the nutrients a baby needs and has lasting benefits for the health of your child. However, infant formula milk is also an option or you may want to consider a combination of breast and formula.

10: Vitamin K for your baby

Shortly after your baby arrives you'll be asked if you want him or her to have a vitamin K supplement, needed to make their blood clot properly. It will either be given by injection or by mouth. You'll have to consent to it being given so it's worth discussing the benefits of vitamin K with your midwife beforehand.

Print out our handy birth plan to use on the day

Giving birth really is a labour of love, but with a bit of planning you can try to make it the kind of birth that you really want.

Read more like this:

Say hello to your bundle of joy
Soothing strategies
Off to the land of nod

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