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Childbirth is not just about the delivery​ of a baby. It is also a very special experience for both mum and dad. Many women appreciate having choices in their childbirth and a birth plan is a good way of communicating these choices to your obstetrician. It is best to discuss your birth plan with your obstetrician ​well ahead of time. 

What is a Birth Plan? 

A birth plan is not a contract. It is a platform for communication between your partner, care givers and you. It is important that you know what the reasons are and what the implications your alternative choices will have on you and your baby. 

Who Should I Involve? 

You should indicate your wishes to your obstetrician, midwives and delivery suite staff when you go into labour. Sometimes, it is useful to discuss your options with your obstetrician during the antenatal consultation. Some women will discuss their birth plans with their doctors although birth plans are not common practices here. 

What are the Limitations That May Be Faced? 

Certain hospitals have various policies such as allowing only one member of your family into the delivery room, or prohibiting the presence of the partner during a cesarean section​ due to various logistic and infrastructural considera​tions. Discuss with your obstetrician to find out more about these hospital regulations. This enables you and your doctor to decide on a reasonable consensus between your ideals and the standard care given to you and your baby at delivery. 

It is also important to appreciate that the process of childbirth can sometimes be unpredictable and may not necessarily go the way you expect. In these situations, your obstetrician will guide you as to what is medically the best solution for you and your baby. 

What are Some of the Issues That can be Considered? 

Not everyone needs or wants a formal and written birth plan. What is important is that you should have a detailed discussion with your doctor in the antenatal period regarding the process of labour, methods of pain relief and any other concerns. This will make the childbirth more meaningful for you and your partner. 

Most people have preferences for how things are to be done during the labour and birth. 

A birth plan might address some of these issues: 

During labour 

  • ​​Do you prefer to ambulate or do you wish to be confined to a bed? 
  • Do you prefer an intravenous drip, intravenous access, or none at all? 
  • Do you prefer to wear your own clothing? 
  • Do you prefer to be able to have some drinks and small snacks during labour? 
  • Do you prefer to listen to music? 
  • Do you prefer to use the birth pool or have a shower? (Only certain hospitals have the earlier option and there are some pros and cons associated with this, so please discuss this in detail with your doctor.) 
  • Do you prefer pain relief or do you want to avoid them? 
  • Do you have any preferences for which pain medications you want? 
  • Would you prefer a certain position in which to give birth — semi-sitting / standing / kneeling? 
  • Would you prefer an episiotomy? Or are there certain measures to avoid one? 
  • If you need a cesarean section, do you have any special requests? 

After delivery 

  • ​​Would you like your partner to cut the cord? 
  • Would you like to claim the placenta? 
  • Would you like to store the cord blood
  • Would you like to hold the baby immediately after giving birth? 
  • Would you like to breast feed immediately? 

It is important to exercise flexibility on your requests, especially if it compromises on the care and safety of your delivery. Please consult your obstetrician as he or she will know what is best for you and your baby. 

Acknowledgement

Source: Dr TAN Thiam Chye, Dr TAN Kim Teng, Dr TAN Heng Hao, Dr TEE Chee Seng John, The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth, World Scientific 2008.