Wednesday, January 27, 2016

My Natural Birth Plan

I am now 37 weeks pregnant with our second baby and looking forward to my birth. Elise was 10 days 'late' which means she came 10 days after my estimated due date. I had a wonderful first birth - it was exactly as I had imagined it would be: calm, relaxed, short and enjoyable. Truly, it was enjoyable.

And with 3 weeks to go (give or take a week or two) I am really, really looking forward to my next delivery.

I learnt with my first pregnancy, when reading books or talking to people to were natural birthing advocates, that knowing what you want is really crucial. At the very least, you need to have a good understanding of what your options are when it comes to Delivery Day.

There are so many options available to you:
  • Where you want to birth
  • Who you want with you
  • What birthing positions are best for you
  • Whether you want medicated pain relief or not
  • Whether you want to use natural pain relief methods or not
  • How quickly - and how - you want to bond with your baby after birth
  • Who will cut the cord
  • What vaccinations (if any) you are prepared to give your newborn...

...the list is truly endless. And it is so important to have an opinion for each variable.

I decided to be explicit in my first birth plan (and I have hardly modified it for my second) which for me, meant being assertive and clear about what I wanted and what I did not want. 

I'm of the view that a labouring woman, with no pregnancy complications, is not ill. She is not sick. She is simply having a baby. That means she needs to have awareness of what her options are and to have clear opinions about those options

Yes, midwives and obstetricians might be more experienced in helping to birth more babies, but a labouring mum-to-be knows her body and her wishes better than anyone else. Her body is also perfectly capable of birthing a baby, just as her heart works without her thinking about it and her lungs inflate without her having to make them do so.  

Of course, complications can arise. And although you should have a clear Plan A that you are committed to in your birth plan, you should educate yourself as to what your options may be should special circumstances arise on the day. 

My Natural Birth Plan

My birth plan is logical and divided into the different stages of labour. I've been lucky and have had no complications during this pregnancy which means a 'natural water birth' is more possible. Women who have had complicated pregnancies/labours would potentially need to deviate from a natural birth plan but they could still use the principles of natural and/or hypnobirthing to help them through C-section deliveries. 

Here's a snapshot of my plan which I have adapted from different sources, namely my birthing bible, 'Hypnobirthing - The Mongan Method' (Marie F Mongan) and from Kathryn, my natural birthing tutor at Natural Birth Sydney. And of course, it takes into account my own birthing preferences too.

My plan is simply about setting out my wishes and politely requesting that they be followed, all being well. Here it is:


  • I request the most calm, natural, gentle labour and birthing experience possible.
  • I have chosen the Hypnobirthing method and intend to follow this practice throughout labour and birth.
  • My preference is a water birth and to labour and birth in a birthing pool provided by the hospital.
  • do not want artificial induction; do not want artificial rupture of membranes; and do not want episiotomy.

Special Circumstances
  • Should these arise, and mean I may need to deviate from my planned natural birth, I trust that our medical care providers will give me a clear verbal explanation of the special circumstance; the medical need for any procedure they might anticipate; and all of my options.
  • In the absence of any special circumstance, I ask that my birth plan be followed by all medical care providers.

Arrival at Hospital
  • To remain at home for as long as possible before coming into hospital (NB: this timeframe will vary depending on your health, baby's health, and whether this is your first or a subsequent baby).
  • To decline routine IV drip on admission (NB: I prefer not to be attached to wires unnecessarily... it is highly unnatural and I can keep myself hydrated during labour.)
  • To decline any internal examinations if I choose (NB: I believe internal exams are usually unnecessary so long as you're healthy and baby is doing fine. They also interrupt your state of calm and risk bringing on contractions before you, baby or your body are ready... what's the point in that?).
  • To have a private birthing pool and room ready upon arrival.
  • To play music if I choose to.

During Labour
  •  I wish to labour naturally in my own time – however long that may take – and to be allowed to do so in peace and quiet
  • Artificial inducement will only be considered if there is a medical emergency (NB: it is important to know what the options are here and what methods of inducement you'd be most willing to try and in what order. You may also have a view on methods you want to avoid).
  • Caregivers, please do not mention ‘pain’; ‘pain tolerance’; ‘pain relief’; ‘pain levels’; ‘medication’; ‘failure to progress’.
  • To decline discussion of ‘moving things along’ and to allow labour to take its natural course.
  •  A natural, drug-free birth. Epidural is not wanted.

During 'Thinning and Opening' Stages
  • The patience and understanding of all medical caregivers to refrain from any practice or procedure that could stand in the way of me having the most natural and calm birth possible.
  •  Freedom to move, walk, sit or do none of these things during labour.
  •  To change positions and assume labour positions of choice.
  • To be fully consulted before the introduction of any medical procedure including gels; Pitocin; sweeping membranes; episiotomy; suction.

During Birthing

  • To remain in the water and to allow natural birthing instincts to facilitate the birth of the baby. Caregivers please don’t be pushy; I ask for gentle encouragement.
  • To assume birthing positions of choice to facilitate gravity and to avoid episiotomy.
  • That episiotomy only be discussed if absolutely necessary and administered only after consultation and agreement.
  • No forceps. Suctioning is preferable if there is medical urgency.

Post Birth
  • I request that I receive baby onto my chest after birth to enable immediate skin to skin contact and to be allowed to stay in this position for as long as possible.  APGAR testing and weighing can wait please. Skin to skin contact is more important.
  • Do not remove vernix from the baby; please let it be absorbed.
  • Please allow umbilical cord to pulsate and wait until it has stopped before clamping the cord. Obstetrician to cut the cord with our agreement.
  • Vaccinations: NB: have an opinion on which vaccinations you're willing for baby to have. These are country-dependent. Some countries advocate for BCG and Hepatitis B at birth. You can do this, or request to wait until baby is a little older - it is your choice as parents what you believe to be best for baby. Similarly Vitamin K is usually offered at birth - know in advance what your views are on that too. 

  • Placenta: NB: there are lots of options here too about how you'd prefer the placenta to be expelled (naturally or with help of drugs).
  • Cord blood: again, know your options. 
  • Feeding: NB: make it clear whether you intend to feed baby with breastmilk or formula and whether you want the baby to remain with you throughout your hospital stay or to be taken to the maternity ward nursery.

There are so many variables with a birthing plan and with a birth. There are no right or wrong answers but there are opinions. Know your own opinions well in advance of Delivery Day and it will aid a smoother, more enjoyable birth.

If you want to read more about what info you might include in your birth plan, click here.

Happy birthing!
Rebecca x

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