Birth Plan vs Birth Preferences

If you type ‘Birth Plan’ into Google you will get more than 3 million results, and that is just from the UK. Many of these are templates for you to fill in which mostly consist of  lists of  ‘I do not wants’. Often the information is inaccurate. No wonder it is confusing.  Many people worry about what to write down.

The Birth Plan  has been defined as ‘a way of communicating with the professionals’. However, being in labour doesn’t mean you are sudddenly unable to communicate. You will be able to discuss things with your midwife and make decisions as you go. In fact the majority of women don’t have a birth plan.

Is it possible to plan a birth?
The problem with the words ‘Birth Plan’ is that it gives people the impression that you can plan what happens during labour and birth. In fact you can’t. You can plan a holiday or a party because you know the dates, times and lots of other definite facts. On the whole most will go to plan. You can’t plan a birth. You don’t know when it is going to start, how long it will take, how much pain you will be in and what the outcome will be. You can only prepare.

Birth Preferences
At BirthPrep we don’t talk about Birth Plans, we talk about ‘Birth Preferences’. These are things that you would like to happen and you can make a note of them on the Birth Plan/Birth Preferences page in your hospital notes. They will remind you of what you have thought about when you go into labour.  Antenatal classes and talking things through with your midwife will give you the information you need to make decisions about your preferences. These are things people have written:

‘I would like to try and avoid an epidural if possible’
‘I would like an epidural’
‘I would like a waterbirth’
‘My partner would like to cut the baby’s cord’
‘I would like my partner to tell me the baby’s sex’

Note down anything that is important to you. Make a note of any phobias.

Now Prepare
Remember that writing it down doesn’t mean you don’t have to do anything else. If you decide for example that you would like a waterbirth do some reading on the subject, go to a local class and get all the facts. If you say that you would prefer not to have any drugs/pain relief in labour then prepare for that with relaxation & breathing or take a course in hypnobirthing.

One of my parents at a recent antenatal class said she was going to write only two words on her Birth Preferences page – Open-minded!

This entry was posted in Labour and Birth, Pregnancy.

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