Approximately five to ten years ago, it was common practice for most women to provide a birth plan to be included in her hospital chart. In recent years this practice seems to have disappeared. However, it still remains a good idea for women to discuss their birth plan with their midwife/consultant and their support person for labour. Whether it is typed or written out, it will allow the midwifery team and doctors know how you would like your labour to go. It will also give the person who will be supporting you in labour a good idea of how they can help to support you and make your labour and delivery as easy as possible.
Birth plans should be realistic! Be aware of the services available to you in the labour ward. There is no point requesting a water birth if the hospital doesn’t have a birthing pool - you will be disappointed and frustrated by this discovery at the time of your arrival to the delivery suite! Remember that most hospitals won’t allow any candles or naked flames, so burning an essential oil might not be possible. Consider using essential oils on pressure points as a way to include the use of essential oils during your labour instead.
Have an open mind when discussing your birth plan with the midwives and your partner. Remember that there are many forms of pain relief available. Don’t think that gas & air won’t work for you because your friend used it and didn’t like it! Don’t close your mind to solutions that the midwives may have to ease your labour pains – different positions and breathing techniques can be very helpful while in labour. Above all, make sure you attend an antenatal class given by a qualified midwife where you will receive up-to-date information regarding all aspects of your pregnancy and advice for labour . Once you and your partner learn about the changes your body is undergoing during these times you can make informed decisions regarding your care. Remember that secondhand advice from friends and family is always given from their personal point of view and not always given objectively!
Gráinne Grundy RGN RM - Mama & Me - Gráinne holds monthly antenatal classes in Kildare.  See for further details.
© Gráinne Grundy 2010