Birth can be an unpredictable process, but taking time to consider the options available to you and your baby can bring a sense of control and lessen anxiety. Midwife Sharon Weir & obstetrician Dr Martin Sowter of Auckland Obstetric Centre share their top tips.
Midwife Sharon Weir
On how to look at a birth plan: “It’s almost like a wish list. You can’t set it in stone. Birth is a very dynamic situation; it can change in a moment so you have to be a little bit fluid about what you want.”
On the importance of birth plans: “It’s about being prepared and informed… so that you are the one who can make the decisions surrounding you and your baby.”
On how it helps her: “It gives us a good idea of where the woman is coming from; what she’s expecting and helps us try to promote those things.”
On the first thing to consider: “Where do you want to have the baby? In hospital, at home, or in a primary birthing unit? That can often change the mentality of how you think about things. For first-time mums, many think ‘Oh, hospital is the place to have a baby’ but when they do some research they realise that hospital is for sick people, not necessarily for a healthy woman having a baby.”
On the importance of research: “Really look at your options and research things, even if you think you know what you want – when you start doing some homework you might change your mind.”
On discussing it with your LMC: We get a few women who end up changing to us at 32/34 weeks because they suddenly realise that what they would like, their LMC doesn’t offer. Be it home birth, water birth – even just choices about positions.”
Dr Martin Sowter
On the importance of birth plans: “A birth plan is very much a two-way discussion. We view them as an opportunity to ensure that we know what the couple would like to have happen and… what their expectations are.”
On being informed about all the possibilities: “In most New Zealand hospitals less than 50 per cent of first-time mums go into labour spontaneously and deliver spontaneously – nearly half will be induced or deliver by section or forceps. Natural delivery rates are relatively low for first-time mums, so it’s good to discuss all the things that might happen in advance.”
On extras to include: “They may have some medical concern or some family history they’re very worried about – perhaps some of their family members had a cardiac defect that was found at birth or their last child had one that was missed at birth. Then we can be sure that’s in the plan and that’s going to get reviewed after baby’s born.”
On being flexible: “It’s important to review your birth plan later on – you could get to 42 weeks with a 4.5kg baby who’s in a posterior position, then the plan for having the baby in water may not be as realistic as it seemed six weeks ago!”
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