Baby steps to a birth planComment on this story
Choosing where to have your baby is an important decision to consider early in your pregnancy, or even before falling pregnant, as it will affect which caregiver you choose.
In the book the Antenatal Guide, which comes with a DVD presented by TV journalist Leanne Manas, medical professionals as well as birth centres, hospitals and home births are differentiated.
During the course of your pregnancy, delivery and the first six weeks with your newborn, you might be cared for by many different medical professionals. Those working as obstetricians or gynaecologists diagnose and closely monitor women during their pregnancies and offer advice for healthy living.
Gynaecologist: Although a gynaecologist primarily specialises in the treatment of diseases and disorders of the female reproductive system, almost all are also trained obstetricians.
Obstetrician: A doctor who specialises in caring for pregnant women through childbirth, and who focuses on labour delivery.
OTHER PROFESSIONALS INCLUDE:
Midwives: These are nurses who specialise in the care of maternity patients and the delivery of babies. You can choose to make use of a private midwife or midwives working at the hospital or birth centre where your baby will be delivered.
Paediatrician: A doctor who specialises in the care of children.
Birth centres: Birth centres are small and run by highly skilled midwives. They often offer a natural approach to labour. In the case of complications during or after labour, you will be transferred to the hospital by ambulance with your midwife.
Hospital maternity unit: This is run by skilled midwives who work shifts. One or two midwives will care for you throughout your labour and birth. If you have been in the care of a gynaecologist through your pregnancy, they will see you during labour or will be called to assist you just before giving birth.
Home birth: Planning a home birth with a private midwife is safe for normal, low-risk pregnancies. All going well, it will be a peaceful, gentle birth experience in the comfort of your own home. You will be transferred to hospital if any problems occur.
It is vital to remember that labour is unique to every woman and involves more than merely arriving at the hospital and giving birth, so be as prepared as you can.
One way in which you can prepare is by creating a birth plan.
Making a birth plan, or birth wish, is a good opportunity to reflect on who you are and what is important to you.
Remember, though, that birth is unpredictable. Use language that reflects an attitude of openness and flexibility. For example, you could start with words like: “If everything goes according to plan, I would like to…”
Potential birth plan decisions:
* What assistance would you like?
* What are your pain relief preferences?
* What are your views on being induced:
* How far overdue would you wait until being induced? Will you try the natural method first?
* Do you mind having your water broken, or prefer it to be done only if necessary?
* Would you be prepared to have an episiotomy if necessary or prefer to tear naturally?
* Do you want to breastfeed immediately after birth or have the baby cleaned first?
* Do you want an injection to help deliver the placenta or would you prefer to wait for this to happen naturally?
* Would you prefer continual foetal monitoring, or prefer being able to move around during labour?
* Would you like guidance from the midwife on when to push, or be left to push spontaneously?
* Do you want to be told the sex of your baby or first see for yourself?
* Who and what would you like to have with you during labour?
* Find out from the place you are going to how many birth partners you are allowed with you.
* Find out whether your birthing partner can stay with you if you have a Caesarean section.
* Does your partner want to cut the umbilical cord?
* Can you bring music and candles along?
* Would you like to wear your own clothes during labour and birth?
What are your preferences?
* Is there a position you would prefer to give birth in?
* Find out what special facilities are available.
* How soon after birth, assuming there are no complications, would you like to go home?
Remember that your partner will be doing a lot of communicating on your behalf during labour, so it is best to ensure you know each other’s thoughts on the birth plan.
At around 36 to 38 weeks, you should give a copy of your birth plan to your doctor or midwife and have a chat about it with them. It is also worthwhile to give a copy to the midwife at the hospital when you are admitted.
Remember, just because you have written something in your birth plan doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind later.
When in labour your feelings might change or circumstances may arise which you had not expected. It is vital that you see it simply as a guideline, not a rigid plan.
The most important thing is to have your baby arrive safely, so if your plans need to change as you go into labour, be prepared to do whatever is necessary to ensure the safe delivery of your baby. - The Mercury