The do’s & don’ts of birth plans

Writing your birth plan can be overwhelming - let’s break it down.

While there’s no harm in putting your birth plan to paper, you should think of your birth plan less like an instruction manual, and more like a wishlist - after all, you’re not writing a prescription for the hospital staff. And there’s no need to, because you and your doctors share the same goal: a healthy mum and a peachy bub.

 

A mother embracing her newborn

If things stray from the plan (as childbirth sometimes does) keeping an open mind will help you hit that goal. So to kick off the conversation between you and your support team, we’ve put together a quick guide to help you come up with a flexible plan that can contribute to a positive birth experience.

DO

  • Reconsider the online templates. While you can use them as a guide, writing your own birth plan means you’ll only include the stuff that’s really important to you.
  • Get informed. Before you put pen to paper, make sure you’ve done your homework. Attend your birthing classes, read up, or chat to other mamas. Exposing yourself to different birthing options means you’ll make more informed decisions when it comes to things like pain management or interventions.
  • Include your VIPs. From your partner to your obstetrician or midwife, include the names and numbers of the people you want in the delivery room at the top of your plan.
  • List your medical history. This one’s important. Although it will be in your medical record and on your hospital charts, if you’ve had prior pregnancies and deliveries, or are suffering from a pregnancy-related health issue such as gestational diabetes or pelvic girdle pain, you can outline it in your plan. Same goes for any other considerations that might affect which medications you can receive, such as any allergies.
  • Outline your labour wishlist. Stick to dot points as you break down your requests for labour and delivery. Try to keep things brief as you address the environment, pain relief, preferred positions, assisted delivery and your umbilical cord. Are you bringing along any props like a birthing stool? Would you like to donate your cord blood?
  • Outline your postnatal wishlist. Check out the hospital policy for how your baby will be looked after straight after they’re born. Most facilities will provide skin-to-skin contact right away. Do you want to delay the routine care (like measurements) until after your first feed? Does ibuprofen make you nauseous? List it.
  • Get personal. If there’s a specific reason you want to avoid something in labour, explain it. This will help the staff understand your unique needs. For example; ‘Please don’t forget to invite my husband into the operating room if I need a c-section. This happened with our first child.’

READ MORE: Childbirth explained

DON’T

  • Do not make a list of demands. Because your baby won’t follow your delivery demands, neither will the people tasked with its safe arrival. Though thankfully (unlike your baby) the hospital staff will be willing to tell you why. Favouring a wishlist over a list of demands will help to keep the conversation open with your doctor or midwife.
  • Do not write in absolutes. Don’t limit your options for changing plans if you need to. Some women will write ‘I don’t want to be sped up in labour’. But if you’re still two centimetres at six hours, you might want a nudge in the right direction. Try; ‘I am planning a natural labour. I will transition to prostaglandin only if necessary.’
  • Do not get too attached. Plans change; babies slow down, wiggle to breech or need to get out ASAP. Remember that despite the best laid plans, you may just need to go with the flow.

Print off your birth plan and take it along to your next antenatal appointment to get the conversation rolling. Chat to your doctor or midwife about your fears, and they’ll help you come up with plans to address them. And don’t forget to share the plan with your partner, or whoever you’ll have with you as your birthing advocate. That way, they’ll be able to take their copy to the hospital and remind the staff of your wishlist while you focus on getting through those contractions.


Need a little extra support?

Health Concierge

Eligible members with hospital cover can now talk to a member of our Health Concierge team for advice and guidance on how to have a healthy pregnancy, at no extra cost on 1800 789 414.#

Got a health question? 24/7 Medibank nurse phone service

Members with hospital cover can chat to experienced and qualified nurses over the phone to discuss any health questions or concerns and get professional advice on what to do next. Our nurses are available on 1800 644 325~ for round-the-clock health advice.

Medibank Mental Health Phone Support

Members with Hospital cover can talk with a mental health professional over the phone in relation to any mental health or emotional concern, 24 hours a day 7 days a week by calling 1800 644 325.~

Looking for something else?

Visit our Pregnancy homepage for a range of tools and advice to help you at every stage of your pregnancy journey.


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Things you should know

~    OSHC members should call the Student Health and Support Line on 1800 887 283.

#   Health Concierge is available to all eligible Medibank members who hold hospital cover. Excludes Overseas Visitor Health Cover, Working Visa Health Cover and Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). Some referred services may involve out of pocket costs.

While we hope you find this information helpful, please note that it is general in nature. It is not health advice, and is not tailored to meet your individual health needs. You should always consult a trusted health professional before making decisions about your health care. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them. For these reasons we are unable to accept responsibility for any loss that may be sustained from acting on this information (subject to applicable consumer guarantees). 

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