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Birth planning

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Should you have a birth plan?

The short answer is yes – it’s a good idea. Whether you’re planning to have your baby at home, in a birthing centre or in hospital, there are things that you need to think about before your baby is born. Your midwife will help make a birth plan with you. A birth plan is part of your personal preparation for labour, birth and the post-birth period and it’s about making sure preferences for care are documented and clear.

Some things to consider, as well as place of birth, are who will be at the birth besides the midwife. Who you have with you at the birth is your choice – it may be your baby’s father, your partner, your whānau, a friend or a combination of these. How you want the room to look – taking in cushions and pillows from home, aromatherapy, music, lights, nutritious energy-giving foods to eat in early labour, water immersion, pain relief, skin-to-skin contact with the baby immediately after birth, initiation of breastfeeding, and preferences for what to do with the placenta (afterbirth). In traditional Māori birthing practices it is customary to return the whenua (placenta) to the land (whenua). Non-Māori women/parents are also choosing to do this. Your birth plan will be very individual depending on your priorities however the following can be a place to start when thinking about what is important to you and what is available in your area;

  • Where you would like to give birth to your baby: home, birthing unit, hospital?
  • Who you would like to be there with you when you give birth – your support team and what you expect of them
  • Preferences for the birth – alternative therapies, positions for labour and birth, birthing environment, use of water, preferred music, preferred foods to be available
  • Choices about how your baby and labour will be monitored, pain relief options, what will happen if complications arise?
  • How will delayed cord clamping and skin to skin with your baby be enabled?
  • If planning to breastfeed how will this be supported once baby is born?
  • Choices around Vitamin K for your baby, what you want to do with your placenta/whenua, your planned postnatal stay if not at home, your wishes for breast or bottle feeding etc.

A birth plan also enables carers who may not know you well to understand what is important to you and what your preferences are.

Sometimes plans do have to change in response to events during labour or birth and your midwife will discuss with you any adaption that is needed to the plans. Being fully informed at all times during your labour and birth is important and your midwife will ensure that you know why some things need to be different to what you anticipated and why this is happening.

Further information on support for you during your labour and birth and considerations for a birth plan see the following links.