Is it time to rethink the birth plan, and what it’s actually for?
Words: Holly Kirkwood
Milli Hill, founder of the Positive Birth Movement and author of The Positive Birth Book has called for an overhaul of traditional birth plans to make them more effective.
In a poll of 2209 mums by Channel Mum and the Positive Birth Movement, 42% said their birth plan was not adhered to, while less than half of women questioned said that their birth plan was not read by professionals at all.
Birth Plans have been popular since the 1990s, and by making them women are encouraged to make decisions about how they give birth in advance. This information is shared with midwives and obstetricians in order that women’s choices in birth are respected.
According to the NHS and NCT, both of whom provide outlines for birth plans, it’s an important part of preparing to have a baby, particularly for first-timers. Birth Plans can also be empowering for many mums-to-be, and useful in terms of trying to decide what sort of choices you and your partner would like to make during the birth, based on different sets of potential circumstances – obviously these aren’t always predictable!
They include what sort of birth you’d like to plan in terms of
** Where you’d like to be: at home, on labour ward, in a birthing centre, or a birthing unit in hospital
** What sort of monitoring you’d like for your baby during labour
** Pain relief options and choices
** Interventions: an important one for many mums-to-be is to say that any interventions like breaking waters, acceleration, or ventouse, to be explained and discussed before they take place
However, according to Milli birth plans are currently misunderstood. She urges women not to think of their plan as a rigid ‘wish list’, but rather a way to make clear their choices in every eventuality – in other words, not just Plan A, but B, C and D as well. Which takes a little more planning, perhaps.
She says: “At the moment we have a real problem with birth plans, in that women are being told not to bother making them because, ‘birth is unpredictable’, and those women who do make them find they may not be read or adhered to.
This really is a missed opportunity for all concerned. A birth plan is a really great chance for women and their partners to play an active role in their birth experience, learning about the many options available to them, and deciding what they really want, not just in their ‘ideal birth’, but in every scenario, even an emergency caesarean.
“It’s also a way to open up a conversation with their care providers in advance of their birth and make choices that feel satisfying and safe for everyone involved.”
Did you have a birth plan? Did you stick to it or did things go off piste? Share your thoughts in the comments below..