Preparing for labour
You can’t really plan your birth but there are things that you can do and think about that will help you to be more prepared.
You may have particular ideas about the kind of birth you want – who you want to be there, how you would prefer to manage your pain and what you would like to do if things don’t go as planned.
Many women and their partners write a birth plan, so that when the time comes, all of those involved in the birth of your baby will know what you want. Writing a birth plan can also help you and your support person to think through, and prepare for, a range of possible scenarios.
A birth plan is also useful for fathers or birth partners, who will feel more empowered by a birth plan to advocate on your behalf, especially if you have prepared the birth plan together.
The following are examples of things you might want to consider when you are writing your plan.
- Do you want to be active throughout your labour?
- Would you like it to be as ‘natural’ as possible?
- Would you like pain relief to be readily available?
- Do you have a preference for one pain relief over another?
- What kind of support do you want?
- Who do you want to be there?
- Would you like to labour in water (a bath or a shower)?
- Would you like to try birthing in water?
- Would you prefer medical intervention over laboring for too long?
- You may also wish to consider what your preferences would be in the event that you have to be induced, or in the event that you may need a caesarean birth.
If you discuss your birth plan with a midwife you will have more of an understanding of what is realistic. It may also help you to understand more about what to expect during the birthing process.
Your birth plan will be best if it is flexible. If your aim is to stick rigidly to a birth plan it can add to a strong sense of disappointment if things happen differently. Labour and birth are not events that you can have total control over even when you do everything in your power to prepare. Your body and your baby will often have plans of their own.
Support in labour
The people you have around you during your birth can actually improve your experience of it. In fact, research shows that having the right support people can reduce your need for pain relief, assisted vaginal birth and caesarean section. It is important that you have people with you who make you feel safe and free to express what you need in the moment, even if that includes telling them to leave the room! There are times when you will need peace and quiet so it may be best not to have too many people around you. Your partner, mother, sister or best friend are all possible candidates.
Related Health Topics
Normal labour is painful, but many women find that the techniques used in active childbirth and mentioned in this fact sheet help them to cope with the pain of labour and reduce the use of drugs for pain relief. Having encouraging and supportive people caring for you is also very important.
- Active birth
Induction of labour
This information is to help you and your family make a choice about induction of labour and to answer some of the questions you may have.
- Induction of labour
Having your baby at the Women’s - what to bring into hospital
If you are having your baby at the Women's, this fact sheet outlines what to bring into hospital.
- Having your baby at the Women’s - what to bring into hospital
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