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Pure Choice: Creating a Birth Plan

8 min read | 16 August 2020

No one can predict how the birth of your baby will unfold. Whether this is your first, or your fifth, no two births are the same. However, giving some thought to how you would like to make decisions on the day, will help.

Listen to episode two above or on Apple Podcasts or Spotify​.

Epworth Maternity Midwife and Childbirth Educator, Frances Laing, recently sat down with Purebaby for their Parenthood Podcast, with some tips straight from the delivery suite on how to put together a birth plan. Frances says,: “it’s important to remember that all good plans can change rapidly, during childbirth”.

As a midwife, birth plans are helpful. Having your priorities and wishes already documented can help us support you in the best possible way. We also encourage you to discuss your plan with your support person and your doctor or midwife, so you’re all on the same page.

While it is difficult to follow a birth plan to the letter due to the individualiszed nature of the birthing process, a birth plan can help facilitate your consideration of all potential aspects of having a baby.

A possible vaginal birth plan:

This plan would include women who go into labour spontaneously and those who are induced. You might like to write something like:

I respectfully request the following during my planned natural birth, assuming that my baby and I are healthy at the time of birth and are not experiencing any unforeseen complications. All of the below requests are in ideal planned natural birth situation and if an emergency cesarean takes place, then I understand that some of these requests might not be possible, but will be discussed with me:

  • A natural labour and birth with as little intervention as possible

  • To be pain free as early as possible

  • As few people present as possible (besides my support people)

  • Minimal interruptions

  • To be given time and privacy to labour how I feel comfortable

  • To be supported to keep moving and stay upright and in active positions

  • To use a shower or bath for comfort during labour, if available

  • To wear my own clothes, or wear a hospital supplied gown

  • Intermittent or wireless monitoring, where possible

  • To have uninterrupted skin to skin with my baby at least for the first hour

  • To delay cord clamping until the placenta has been birthed

  • To have a physiological third stage

  • To initiate breastfeeding when the baby is showing signs it’s ready

I would like to avoid having:
  • Drugs offered or suggested to me

  • Continuous monitoring

  • My movement restricted

  • Being induced with the synthetic hormone Syntocinon

  • Episiotomy, unless medically necessary

  • Drugs to help deliver the placenta

  • Having my waters broken, artificially

A Caesarean birth plan:

This is important to consider, even if you are not booked in for an elective Caesarean. If your labour takes a turn that means you have to have an emergency C-Section, these are things that you may like to keep in mind:

I would like:

I respectfully request the following procedures during my planned cesarean birth or should a cesarean be necessary, assuming that my baby and I are not experiencing any unforeseen complications.

All of the below requests are in an ideal planned cesarean birth situation and if an emergency cesarean does take place, then I understand that some of these requests might not be possible:

  • I would like my partner or support person present during the birth,

  • Everyone to be silent

  • I would like to have music of my choice playing during the operation

  • I would like my partner or support person to announce the gender of our baby

  • I would like to have the drape lowered so that I can see my baby being born

  • I would like to be asked “are you ready to have your baby now”, before operating

  • Please explain the surgery to me as it happens or please don’t mention the details

  • I would like to be shown the umbilical cord and placenta and/or keep the placenta

  • If possible, I would like delayed cord clamping to allow my baby to receive the extra blood from the placenta

  • I would like to have minimal separation from my baby. If the baby and I need to be separated for medical reasons, I would like my partner/support person to accompany our baby

  • I would like to try breastfeeding as soon as possible

  • I am willing to be up and walking as soon as practically and physically possible

  • I would like to eat as soon as I feel like I want to

Not all hospitals will have these options for cesarean births, so it’s important to start planning early. If you have any questions or concerns, your doctor or midwife are here to help.

I would like to avoid:
  • Seeing my baby until it is ‘cleaned up’

  • Being asked to cut the cord

Once you’re out of the delivery suite or recovery and into the Postnatal ward, there are some other options to consider.

  • Do you want to breastfeed or formula feed?

  • Do you not want to be asked about breastfeeding?

Your cultural preferences are also important, so make sure that the people caring for you are aware so they can support you in every way possible.

“‘Holding your little one for the first time is a life-changing moment, no matter how they’re delivered. Epworth Maternity supports empowered patients and your choices, wherever possible. Just make sure you keep those conversations going,”’ Frances said.

Download the episode transcript here

This episode of Pure Parenthood also covers preparing for a hospital birth.

This article was written by Epworth Maternity, in conjunction with episode 2 of Purebaby’s podcast, Pure Parenthood. To learn more about Epworth Maternity, visit their website for more information. (link to Epworth website)

Frances Laing is a registered midwife and childbirth education coordinator at Epworth Freemason Hospital. Frances has 10 years of experience as a midwife and childbirth educator and is also a mother of two.

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