Preparing For the Big Day: We have identified and released our fears, we know and understand our coping styles and we know what tools we have in our birthing kit.
What other things can you do to get ready? You can put together a birth plan.

What is a Birth Plan?

A birth plan is a plan of action for the big day. You will have one of these in the blue book that you receive from your midwife, where all of your antenatal visits are recorded. I tend to say, make a plan for birth, and then be prepared not to stick to it.

Don’t turn up at your birth with a list of demands for the midwives. You cannot plan everything in birth so let’s call it a list of ‘birth preferences’ instead. Think of things that you definitely would and wouldn’t like for your birth. So important decisions you may want to think about could be, who will be at the birth? Will I have a doula? Will I birth at home? Will I birth in water?

Your doula, or Birth ROCKS Mentor, can help you put together your birth preferences and provide some guidelines on how to do this. It doesn’t have to be ‘War and Peace’ and you only have to go into as much detail as you wish to. So perhaps you had an epidural with your first birth and do not want another one under any circumstances for this birth. Or you feel strongly about waiting until the umbilical cord stops pulsating before cutting it.

Try not to be too rigid in your birth plan and accept that there is every possibility that things won’t go as planned. Be open to accepting medical assistance if necessary, even if you had hoped for a natural birth, the health of you and your baby is first and foremost.

The Basics When Considering Your Birth Preferences

• Where do I want to birth? Home/hospital/birth centre? Find out your options locally and the pros and cons of each.
• Do I want to labour or birth in water? What does this mean?
• Do I want to try for a natural birth? If so, how am I going to manage any discomfort?
• Who will be my birth partner?

Where am I Going to Give Birth?

This generally refers to a home, birth centre or hospital birth. These are your main options for birthing each with different considerations. This is something you will want to think about quite early on as your health care provider will need to make the necessary arrangements for you.
Find out about the location of each of these options in proximity to your home, the facilities available (for example, if you want to have a water birth, are there pools available?) and pros and cons of each option before you decide.

Creating a Birth Space

Even if you are not giving birth at home, you can still create a peaceful ‘birth space’ for the start of labour. You will want to stay at home as long as possible. Being at home helps you remain calm and relaxed. Let’s face it, we don’t want to spend any more time in the hospital than is necessary. Unless you are 4cm dilated, then the hospital staff will generally send you home.

Your birth space could be in your bedroom, bathroom, lounge, wherever you feel comfortable and safe. Dim the lights make sure it’s cosy and warm and have anything around you that helps you feel at peace and relaxed. Play soft music and burn aromatherapy candles. Make it a lovely place to be.

This blog is adapted from the revised edition of Birth ROCKS by Cheryl MacDonald, available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

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