The importance of birth planning

Posted on 26 June 2014 by Kristrun

babyleaningonarmsAfter years of working with families to prepare for birth, we have long ago learned that the term ‘birth plan’ is probably not a good description, and by that I mean to hand out a piece of paper that states BIRTH PLAN at the top.  This indicates that there is “a” plan, and that the parents expect things to go a certain way.  This can sometimes be hard, because if there is a change in the beginning, for example if you need to be induced, sometimes the whole “plan” is then changed or not valid anymore.  Similarly, sometimes these plans are quite unrealistic and come from someone else that perhaps had different reasons for choosing what they did.

Without ditching the term “birth plan”  we go around this in a slightly different way when we assist parents in their preparation. We suggest that you view the birth similar to an adventure trip that has certain planned checkpoints beforehand, but the whole journey is unknown.  It is much better to be well prepared for it, with the right people/hospital to support you, and some parts of it need to be planned.

In the period leading up to the birth, the term ‘birth planning’ will be used many times and you will likely be asked at the hospital if you have a birth plan.  Your birth plan will always be restricted to certain hospital guidelines, but there is usually some flexibility in both public and private settings.  To ensure a realistic and tailor-made birth plan that suits your needs, we therefore suggest two types of planning/preparation: short and long term.  The long term planning involves choosing the right hospital and doctor, with direct answers about what practices and rules there may be for women who are in labour.  Statistics and details are needed when this is done.  The short term planning involves more detailed information about your own choices during the labour and birth and may include information about your care and preferences regardless what type of labour / journey you embark on.

Attending antenatal courses and/or private consultation about typical scenarios during childbirth, and what interventions are available, is normally the first step in your birth planning. This is the part where you figure out what will be important to you on the day when you go into labour. It´s also about working out if you as a couple are hoping for the same type of experience, as labour is not the right time to figure these things out.

Birth planning becomes even more important when you are seeking care in a private doctor and hospital environment. Educate yourself so you know what you prefer, rather than have the “system” make these decisions on your behalf. Are there any financial gains underlying your care? Be in charge.

In the public system in Hong Kong, you will not have many choices. The long term birth planning will be you educating yourself on what types of choices you think will be important for you and your partner and how to make the most of it. First step will be your antenatal education. From there you make your choices within a reasonable birth plan which you present and make clear to your caregivers at the hospital.

The short term birth planning is when you create the final document and submit to your caregiver. It is very important to create a birth plan that is in line with what is available in each hospital, and a plan that meets your needs even in the event of different birth circumstances than were originally planned.  This is important both to make sure you get the best birth possible, but also to ensure your emotional health and to avoid any feelings of failure after the birth. We advise against ‘copy-paste birth plans’ from the internet where individual needs are not taken into account.  Creating a birth plan is a very personal and important part of your birth preparation.

Birth planning is a big part of the support we offer. Through our classes, consultation and routine checkups we have created a detailed educational program that goes perfectly well with the public and private systems in Hong Kong. For the best results, join our ‘Best of Both’ for public hospital births and ‘Private package’ for giving birth in a private hospital in Hong Kong. Equip yourself with the tools you need to navigate the system in which you are giving birth.

The Annerley midwives

Book a private birth planning session with a midwife > let us know how we can help

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