Why have a Birth Plan?
Maternity care in Australia includes antenatal, childbirth and postnatal care for women and their babies.
A Birth Plan is a documented record of you preferences for your maternity care.
A health professional for maternity care may be a Midwife, General Practitioner or Obstetrician
A Birth Plan is one way of communicating with your health professionals. The Birth Plan is a chance to raise and discuss your wishes. Discussion of your Birth Plan helps build a trusting relationship and provides insight into areas of further conversation before labour begins. Trust is essential as your experience of maternity care will influence the outcomes of your birth, the success of your mothering career, and the long-term wellness of your child.
A Birth Plan is a way to make clear your care preferences so that they can be respected – even in situations where a health practitioner states you are too unwell to understand your care treatment choices or to communicate what you want. It is expected that a health professional will respect your preferences expressed in a Birth Plan, taking into account the clinical situation at the time.
How to write a Birth Plan
- Educate yourself about pregnancy and birth.
- Think about your values, beliefs, preferences and what kind of outcomes from maternity services you want. What would be unacceptable for you?
- Write down your preferences in a Birth Plan.
- Discuss your Birth Plan with your health professional. This ensures you understand all your options and the implications and the health professional clearly knows your preferences.
- As a record of the discussion, sign and date your Birth Plan and ask your health professional to sign and date the Birth Plan.
- Think about who might be best to speak on your behalf – your partner / support person. Talk to them about your Birth Plan. This will help them support you. Ask them to ensure you are included in any care decision. The following questions are helpful when deciding what to do.
- Why are you recommending this test / procedure / intervention?
- What are the consequences – risks and benefits – of having this intervention?
- What are the alternative options?
- What if I do nothing?
- Give a copy of your Birth Plan to your support person, your health professional and your birth facility / hospital.