I had four very different births with my children and only one of them looked even vaguely like what I might have planned for beforehand. For my youngest, I had been hoping for another home birth and instead ended up being driven to hospital by a paramedic in the middle of the night and then induced at 37+0 weeks. This was definitely not what I had written on my birth preferences but it was still a positive birth experience because we felt informed and in control of the parts of the process that we could be in control of.
While your labour and birth may take a very different path to the one you had imagined, taking the time during your pregnancy to write your birth preferences with your birth partner gives you a chance to research and discuss the options and to become more informed. Research has found that being informed and making decisions about the choices you have plays an important part in helping parents to feel more positive about their labour and birth experience afterwards.
Having something written down on paper can help to set things out clearly for health care professionals during labour, when you may not want to be communicating with others, and can save you repeating yourself if other people become involved. It can discussed with your midwife and others involved with your birth beforehand, to help agree things in advance.
We tend to talk about birth preferences now rather than a birth plan, as labour and birth is not always something that can be planned for. It is important to remain open minded about the different paths that your labour may take while being clear about what your preferences are when choices are available to you.
We cover many of the options around labour and birth during our Daisy Birthing classes. Each class in the six week term includes a different educational segment that will help to inform your birth preferences. When it comes to writing something down, the NHS website has a birth plan template available here. For something less text heavy, I love the Visual Birth Plan Icons from Milli Hill (I think the ‘Freedom of Movement’ dancing labouring lady is my favourite!).
We wrote a birth plan or birth preferences for my first three children (I have to admit I didn’t get round to refreshing it before our youngest was born). It gave us a chance to explore the options around things like the third stage of labour and how the placenta may be delivered, and to look at information on vitamin K. It made me realise that I had no desire to have a birthing pool. And I included a note each time about using my Daisy breaths during labour and birth.
To book on my next term of Daisy Birthing classes starting on 27th February in Hartley Wintney and start to consider your birth preferences, click here.