Birth plans — are they really useful?

A well thought-out birth plan sets out clearly how you want your delivery to go.

Pregnancy-Birth-plans-—-are-they-really-useful

We all know that babies do thing THEIR way, not according to your plans. But a birth plan can be very useful, feels homemaker Anne Ghazali, mum to Danial, 17 months. Despite her birth plan that specified her preference for a natural birth, the gynae recommended that Ghazali be induced after she had been in labour for 12 hours.

          “In the end, I asked my gynae for a vacuum delivery as my baby was stuck in the birth canal for too long,” she says. “But I’m very happy and grateful with how things turned out. A birth plan is just a guideline because anything can happen in the delivery ward.”

          What’s more, there is the psychological factor. “Writing a birth plan is great for helping you deal with your fears,” says Dr Anne Deans, author of Your New Pregnancy Bible ($55, from www.bookdepository. com). “It encourages you to research what happens and start to psychologically prepare for it.”

         

“A birth plan is just a guideline because anything can happen in the delivery ward.”

 

          Dr Tony Tan, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at Raffles Women’s Centre, says it’s always good practice for a patient to discuss her birth-plan wishes with her doctor. This way, her doctor can also explain the medical procedures that are available which will reduce the risks to both mother and baby, in case things don’t go as planned during labour. After the delivery, doctors will also routinely tell their patients how the labour went, he adds.         

After the birth, you may well look back and question certain procedures that didn’t exactly match your birth-plan expectations. Complications, such as a drop in your baby’s heart rate, or if he needs a forceps delivery or a C-section can be frightening when you’re in labour. Without closure, you may feel fearful of going through labour again. If these thoughts cause you distress, talk to your doctor.

          While a birth plan is a tool that outlines a woman’s expectations for her birth, she must be prepared to throw it aside if medical intervention is needed to keep the mother and her baby safe, Dr Tan stresses.

 
PROS

• A birth plan is an organised method to keep you and your medical providers on the same page during labour to ensure positive outcomes for everyone involved in the process.

• After you do research on the kind of hospital interventions and non-interventions available to you, you can choose what is most acceptable. It’s important to have a discussion about such procedures, so that your doctor has a better idea of what you want during labour.

CONS

• Some patients are disappointed when things don’t go according to plan.

• Birth plans that are not flexible will put undue stress on the obstetric team who may have to follow certain procedures. A birth plan that demands huge changes to these procedures could compromise the safety of both mother and child.

Photo: iStock

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