My Birth Plan {Preparing for a Homebirth}

I never wrote a birth plan when I was pregnant with Jasmine. It felt a bit pointless writing a ‘plan’ for something that, let’s face it, can’t really be planned. Jasmine’s birth ended up being quite dramatic, I arrived at the hospital 10cms dilated and my body already pushing her out by itself. The midwife who looked after me upon arrival at the Birthing Unit didn’t have time to read the front cover of my maternity notes to see my name, let alone read a birth plan!

This time around I’ve felt more inclined to write a birth plan. For two reasons:

  • Because I’m *hopefully* going to have a home birth – I should have at least one midwife with me for the majority of my labour, meaning they will actually have time to read and follow my instructions! I also feel that because I’ll be setting up my own ‘birth environment’ that I will be more in control of how I labour.
  • Having experienced giving birth already, I have some idea of what to expect (granted, all labour/births are different) and therefore I found it easier to know what I do and don’t want to happen – especially when it comes to post-partum procedures such as cord clamping and the administration of Vitamin K to baby.

I’m sharing this birth plan as I found it helpful to read through other people’s when writing my own. It’s short and sweet (which is the best way to keep it if there’s any hope of it being followed) and doesn’t go into too much detail. I’ve based my plan on my own research and my previous experience of giving birth so I’m not looking for opinions on my decisions to do ‘x’, ‘y’ or ‘z’. ;)

Jenna’s Birth Plan:

Birth partner: My husband, Stephen.

The birth environment:

I plan to labour/give birth in our living room (furniture such as the coffee table will be removed to give me more space to move around and change positions). I may also want to have a bath/shower (upstairs) to help ease labour pains. I have prepared a music playlist that I may wish to listen to using either headphones or a speaker. I have put together a homebirth box which is full of items that I feel  I may want/need during labour.

Pain relief:

When managing contractions, I would like to use my TENs machine and Entonox as well as using my Daisy Birthing breathing techniques. I am keen to avoid using Pethidine. Please do not ask me if I would like pain relief, I will state ‘I would like x now please’ when I feel I need something.

Positions for labour and birth:

I intend to remain as active and upright as possible during my labour and birth (particularly during the pushing stage) and would like my midwife to help me to achieve this. I also have a birthing ball and a CUB support available in which to aid me.

Cord clamping:

I would like the cord cutting/clamping delayed until the cord has stopped pulsating. I have provided my own cord tie which I would like to use instead of a plastic clamp. Please offer my husband the opportunity to cut the cord.

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Placenta:

I would appreciate it if you could administer drugs to help me deliver the placenta quickly. We do not wish to keep the placenta.

NB. I was seriously considering having the placenta encapsulated but after a bit of research I decided against it in the end.

Skin-to-skin:

I would like to keep the baby unclothed and close to my skin immediately after birth, to maximise skin-to-skin contact.

Feeding Baby:

I would like to breastfeed our baby as soon as possible after the birth. I’d appreciate some assistance with this to ensure the baby’s latch is correct.

Vitamin K: Please administer an injection of Vitamin K to the baby after the birth.

Sex of Baby: We do not know the gender of our baby and would prefer not to be told by a midwife (sorry!) but instead, find out for ourselves.

Please note: Our two-year-old daughter, Jasmine, may be at home with us depending on what time of day it is and whether or not we’ve managed to arrange childcare. If I’m labouring at night then we are happy for her to stay in bed and sleep through.

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I had a midwife read through my birth plan at my 36 week appointment and she said “This is exactly the kind of birth plan I’d write for myself.” And then went on to ask “But do you have any special requests?” which I must admit, totally threw me. I joked that I wasn’t a diva and wouldn’t be asking to give birth in a room full of Labradoodle puppies!

But actually, the more I think about it…

Did you write/are you writing a birth plan?

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Contemplating a homebirth

If you’d ask me to describe my previous labour experience, I’d tell you that it was quick (particularly for a first baby), calm (for the most part) but ultimately, it was a positive experience. I gave birth to Jasmine at our local midwife-led birthing unit (attached to a hospital) which had been the plan all throughout my pregnancy.

Despite my positive birth experience at the MLBU (midwife-led birthing unit), I am seriously considering having a homebirth with baby number two. This post is basically me thinking out loud about the reasons I do and don’t want to give birth at home. Hopefully by the end of it, I’ll be a step closer to making a final decision. Of course, a lot could happen between now and then which may mean that the decision is taken out of my hands… but it’s still good to think about these things and prepare.

Reasons why I’d like to have a homebirth:

Childcare (or lack thereof):

From the moment I got my positive pregnancy test I have worried about what would happen to Jasmine when I went into labour with my second baby. Obviously I’d want my husband, Stephen, to be my birthing partner. Trouble is, we live several hours away from friends and family and there is nobody else that we know who we’d feel comfortable leaving Jasmine with. A homebirth means we could all stay together, under the same roof. In an ideal world, I’d give birth at night, whilst Jasmine slept through in her own bed, completely oblivious. I’m aware that it probably won’t happen that way though!

I’d love to be able to afford to hire a Doula to be with us at home so there was somebody else to help take care of Jasmine and allow Stephen to focus on being my main birthing partner. Financially, it’s not an option for us which is a real shame.

If I did end up being transferred to hospital then it would most likely mean that I’d have to go by myself whilst Stephen stayed with Jasmine. But that’s the worst case scenario, and if that happens, I’m sure I’d be more focused on getting the baby out safely by whatever means necessary, rather than who is holding my hand at the time.

I won’t be told that there’s ‘no room’ for me at the Birthing Unit/hospital:

One thing I never expected to happen when I went into labour the first time was to be told that there wasn’t any room for me on the birthing unit. But that’s exactly what happened and it meant that I had to stay at home longer than I would’ve liked. When they finally made space for me, I had to endure a speedy car journey to the hospital whilst fully-dilated. At this stage my body was pushing my baby out all by itself. I very nearly had myself a car park baby! Part of me wishes that I’d just stayed at home.

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There’s no place like home:

I was quite impressed with the room we had at the midwife-led birthing unit. They’ve tried to create a home-from-home atmosphere. It’s spacious, comfortable and doesn’t really have much of a hospital feel to it at all. I remember at one point Stephen describing it as being like a “nice hotel room”. That said, nothing quite beats the comfort of being in your own home, does it?

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I can only imagine that being familiar and comfortable with your own surroundings whilst in labour must help massively in terms of staying relaxed and calm. I also love the idea of being able to snuggle in my own bed with my new baby, soaking them up without the distraction of strangers walking into the room constantly or beeping machines. I’d have to make sure that I had some celebratory cake and bubbly on standby towards my due date!

Reasons why I wouldn’t like to have a homebirth:

The mess:

There are two types of ‘mess’ that concern me when it comes to having a homebirth and they are ‘general house mess’ and ‘post-birth mess’.

My house is a mess most of the time. I have a two-year-old and it kinda comes with the territory. The closer I get to my due date – the bigger and more exhausted I’m going to feel. Part of me wonders if I will find it stressful, trying to keep the house tidy enough leading up to the big day in order to ensure that I have a clean, clutter-free space to give birth in. And I know – I know – when it comes down to giving birth, the tidiness of my house will be last thing on my mind. That said, do I really want to give birth surrounded by Megabloks and miscellaneous puzzle pieces?

And then there’s the post-birth mess. You know – bodily fluids, the placenta etc.

I’ve read a lot of conflicting information online about just how messy a home birth is – some websites suggest that you cover your entire house in plastic sheeting (think Dexter’s kill room) whilst other people are adamant that home births really aren’t that messy at all.

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Because I’ve experienced birth once already, I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what to expect in terms of the mess (I’ll admit, it did shock me first time around). I’m sure a few cheap shower curtains and plenty of towels will be enough to contain the mess. I believe the midwives also provide a lot of that kind of stuff too (assuming they get there in time, that is!)

I might scare/upset Jasmine: 

I didn’t have a ‘shouty’ kind of labour with Jasmine – in fact, I was pretty much silent the entire time. But I know that every labour is different and I might not act the same way next time. With the idea being that Jasmine will be in the house with us, I do worry that I might scare her with the noises I make during the birth. And even if I’m quiet again, I’m sure she’d be able to pick up on the fact that I’m in pain and it could scare or upset her. Aside from it being a horrible experience for her, having an upset toddler on our hands is hardly conducive to a relaxing atmosphere, is it?

I am sure there are ways I could prep Jasmine for the birth though – by talking about what might happen to mummy, what noises I might make, what positions I might get in. That sort of thing. It’s definitely something I’m going to research more if I do decide on a homebirth.

No option of a water birth:

I would love to experience a water birth and I know that many people who plan a home birth buy or rent birth pools. But honestly? We just don’t have the room for one in our house (there’s the mess, remember). And maybe if it were a case of just jumpin’ on in and poppin’ out a baby – I’d be tempted to get one but it’s not that simple, is it? It’ll need to be stored somewhere before I go into labour, then when the time comes, it’ll have to be pumped up and filled with water. A quick Google search tells me that it takes 2-3 hours to fill a birthing pool (did I mention the water pressure in our house is shite?) And then of course there’s the cleaning of the pool and taking it down after the birth (obviously that wouldn’t be a task I’d be doing but still).

No, just no.

If I’m going to have a home birth, a water birth is off the cards. Unless I opt for one of these…

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Have you had a home birth? Any advice? 

If you haven’t had one – would you ever consider one or not?

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