Planning for your labour – advice from Tommy’s

May 31, 2009 at 5:15 pm | Posted in Pregnancy | Leave a comment
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We picked up some great information at The Baby Show and online from Tommy’s, the charity which funds research to ensure that more babies are born healthy; saving lifes and preventing miscarriage and stillbirth.


Planning for your labour

You may already know where you’d like to give birth, or you may not be aware of the options open to you. Whatever your situation, choosing where to give birth is a big decision but don’t worry, your midwife will provide all the information and advice you need.

The choices you have will depend on where you live, your medical and obstetric history and any preferences you might have.

Talk to those closest to you as well as your health care provider before you make your decision. Remember, even if you do decide early on where you want to give birth, you can always change your mind later.

Places you might give birth

In hospital. A team of midwives, doctors and obstetricians will provide care for you in hospital. If you have any medical problems during the pregnancy then you may be advised to give birth in hospital.

At home. Your midwife would come to your home when you are in labour and stay with you until after your baby is born. A second midwife joins you soon before the baby is born to give extra help.

In a midwifery-led unit. This may be part of a large hospital, a small community hospital or it might be on its own in the community. They are often called ‘birth centres’. Midwives can give all the care to women as long as they have had a normal pregnancy and don’t develop any unexpected problems during labour. You would be transferred to a hospital if this happened. 

Writing a birth plan

Making choices ahead of time is a good idea, because during labour itself you might find it hard to concentrate or make a decision.

What is a birth plan?

A birth plan is a list of your preferences during labour and birth. It can cover anything from your choice of pain relief to what happens immediately after your baby is born.

Can I change my mind later?

Yes. A birth plan is not fixed. Pain relief is one area where it is common to change your mind.

If I ask for something on a birth plan, can I be sure to get it?  

A birth plan is about preferences not guarantees. No one can be 100 percent sure about how your labour will go. Your midwife will try hard to respect your preferences, but your health and that of the baby will always come first.

Discuss your birth plan with your midwife during an antenatal visit as this can help you both.

What do I include in a birth plan?

There is no single format. The main thing is to write down anything that you would definitely like to happen – or not happen. Your midwife will be happy to read it through with you and make suggestions. You can always ask her to write them down if you are not sure about writing.

Birth partner: Who you would like to be with you when you are in labour.

Atmosphere: You could ask to have music (bring your own), have the lights dimmed or spray your favourite perfume in the room. Think about whether you would mind if there were students present.

Position and equipment: Positions you’d like to try and equipment you might need, such as a birthing stool, Swiss ball, bean bag, water pool or TENS machine.

Pain relief: Think about what pain relief you might like if everything is going to plan and also if your labour is longer or more painful than you expected.

Medical intervention: Your doctor or midwife may offer an intervention (episiotomy or ventouse delivery) to help your baby be delivered. Find out a little about these before the birth so that you know what might happen during labour – the midwife or doctor may not have much time to discuss what is happening on the day.

Delivery of the placenta: A ‘passive’ or natural delivery of the placenta is where you push the placenta out once it has separated naturally, which can take between ten minutes to an hour after birth. Or you might want to consent to receive an injection once the baby is born that causes the placenta to separately quickly and allows the midwife to then deliver the placenta.

Vitamin K: There is a rare disease called vitamin K deficiency bleeding, which occurs in approximately 1 in 10,000 babies. It is almost completely preventable by giving extra vitamin K to your baby after birth; your midwife will give you information about this.


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