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MN Bumpfest: Share your thoughts and experiences on birth plans – £50 voucher prize draw NOW CLOSED

(124 Posts)
MichelleMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 05-Aug-14 10:23:38

In the run up to BumpFest (which we're VERY excited about - get your ticket now! ) we’re looking to get a better understanding of the experiences Mumsnetters have had around different issues surrounding childbirth - in particular, the infamous birth plan.

On a previous thread on Mumsnet it seemed as if many of you found that writing a birth plan was not as useful as you were led to believe for your first birth. What were your experiences with using your birth plan during labour? Did you follow it and find that everything went like clockwork, or did things end up more, er, ad-libbed, shall we say grin

Was your plan consulted by health care professionals during labour, or not? If not, was this due to the birth plan quickly becoming redundant, or did you feel that health care professionals simply ignored your birth plan? Did you feel that your needs and wishes were listened to during the birthing process? Did you find writing a birth plan a useful exercise in retrospect?

We know that every birth is unique, with or without a birth plan. We'd love to hear your experiences and thoughts, and if you have any birth plan wisdom to pass on (even if it's "chuck it out the window and get stuck into the drugs"), please do share.

Everyone who adds their thoughts to this thread will be entered into a prize draw to win a £50 John Lewis voucher.

Thanks thanks


CMOTDibbler Tue 05-Aug-14 11:06:34

I think the main point of a birth plan is to give you a context to talk to your birth partner about what you do or don't want. But you have to be prepared that things might not go to plan, and you might not want those things when it comes to it.

My plan was an active, waterbirth, with immediate skin to skin etc. Ds had other plans, and since he was premature and not engaged when I went into labour I had continous monitoring, on the bed in the consultant unit. But the plan did let my doula know that I basically wanted to be in the dark and left alone as much as possible - which I got, even if the actual birth was them waving a baby at me and running off with him.

Spirael Tue 05-Aug-14 12:30:04

I was lucky enough to have the birth I wanted and the midwives for the home birth team read my birth plan and followed it. I'd also gone through it with DH ahead of time so he knew my wishes.

The plan itself I'd broken into sections for labour/birth/aftermath and then had brief bullet points expressing my wishes; i.e. Yes to G&A, no to managed third stage, yes to vitamin K.

My birth plan was double sided, the first side covered home birth and the second was my wishes if I needed to transfer to hospital and in case of interventions or emergency CS being required.

teddygirlonce Tue 05-Aug-14 13:35:41

Made more of a birth plan for DC1 but needless to say with it being my first baby, nothing went according to it. With DC2 I didn't bother, although I did request a home-birth. That went a lot more swimmingly but I still ended up being rushed into hospital at the 11th hour. So two births not at all as I'd wanted/expected them to be! Would suggest that you consider what you want to be part of your giving birth experience, but don't be inflexible, as things rarely go according to plan wink.

DrankSangriaInThePark Tue 05-Aug-14 13:40:38

Controversially, I don't see the point of a birth plan. I appreciate I am a little odd in this, but I feel sometimes that women are pushed into this whole "experience" in a way that they would really rather not.

I don't consider myself expert enough in matters of childbirth to feel that my feelings and ideas should take precedence over experts who know what they are doing and who know what's best for me and my unborn child. Actually, I just didn't feel strongly enough about anything to be bothered to state it. Birth is a means to an end for me. Ditto pregnancy.

My "birthplan" consisted of "get the baby out, as easily and painlessly as possible, in the manner you see fit, thank you". smile

Perfectly happy with the way things went. (epidural, didn't see baby for 3 hrs as she was incubated as was the norm in the (Italian) hospital where she was born. This gave me chance to get my head round the fact I'd had a baby. They brought her to me, I fed her. We started on our new journey with her, thankfully, knowing what she was supposed to be doing.....)

MadMonkeys Tue 05-Aug-14 13:47:01

I found writing a birth plan good for one thing only - it made me think in detail about the various options. Im reality it made little difference on the day as my labours and childbirths were dictated by circumstances. Both times I wrote that I would like a water birth, both times that wasn't possible. Technically my births were straightforward so no intervention was required until the end when I had episiotomies with both. But neither episiotomies were optional, so it made little difference whether I said I would accept one or not on my birth plan.

IncaAztec Tue 05-Aug-14 13:52:39

Both DC- had a feeling that my birth plan was largely considered a waste of ink! Protocols and set policies rule at the larger hospitals so one persons birth plan is just another document to be ignored.

DC1-felt I was consulted about my wishes as my labour was longer. DC2- fast labour, just had to trust midwives were doing vaguely what I wanted.

All in all, both times, birth plan irrelevant. What is really behind issues is access to appropriate pain relief. (Or lack of).

GetKnitted Tue 05-Aug-14 15:08:15

I didn't write a plan either of my births, but had a clear idea of my priorities and what kind of choices I wanted to make. I knew I had to talk to the midwives about them and make them listen to and talk to me rather than them reading something written 3 months earlier.

Goldrill Tue 05-Aug-14 16:40:23

I felt no need whatsoever to have a birth plan. I had not given birth before and I trusted the medics to do whatever was necessary, as they knew a lot more about it than I did.
I didn't fancy a caesarean, or stitches or lots of drugs; but I suspected they weren't done unless it was necessary.

It's not mandatory! I found the actual being a mum bit was more important than a very brief period of doing something rather unusual - birth is a means to an end for some people?

Tyranasaurus Tue 05-Aug-14 18:15:52

I was expecting things to go, not wrong exactly, but not to plan, so my birth plan was about 4 bullet points. everyone took the time to read it and were respectful of it.

in general i don't like birth plans as i think they give women too much of an illusion that they will be able to control how their birth goes. i think encouraging them to think of preferences and what would you like to do in this situation ? but the idea that you can plan how it's going to go is setting women up for failure.

startwig1982 Tue 05-Aug-14 19:38:44

For ds I had a detailed plan about what I wanted and how, blah blah blah. Then I ended up being induced in a hospital rather than a midwife let unit so it all went out the window, apart from the injection for the placenta and the vitamin k injection.
This time around, I basically have put that I'd like a water birth but realistically I don't care as long as it comes out and is healthy!

I think it's important to know your options but to be aware that the best laid plans and all that! I was so fixated on my first birth plan that I refused to be induce for several days as it wasn't my ideal labour. Now I'm far more realistic! smile

RugBugs Tue 05-Aug-14 20:31:43

I didn't write a birth plan for either DC.
No one bothered to even look for one during first labour on midwife led unit. They were very busy the two times I saw them and it was obviously just easier/quicker to ask me directly than go flicking through a folder.
Second labour was at home, very much played it by ear and was happy to go along with my mid wife's suggestions (I didn't think I'd want to get in the bath but once there I didn't want to get out).

Cherryjellybean Tue 05-Aug-14 23:28:02

The first time I had a birth plan, although it wasn't written down, dh knew what I wanted. So once I was in hospital the midwifes asked me what I wanted and gave it to me. I felt in control and listened to. Right near the end I did ask for an epidural and dh said, 'you don't mean that, you didn't have it in your birth plan!' And I didn't have one, it was too late and I didn't really want it.
Second time things were quite out of my control during labour as they started it off early and I didn't really have a plan for pain relief. They did give me an epidural when I asked and did any injections/ skin to skin after etc that I asked for.
I think all my requests were given to me on both labours, unless it was going to have a negative impact. I didn't write down my plans but dh knew anything that was decided.

Fizzyplonk Tue 05-Aug-14 23:45:10

My plan was consulted in the main both times.
However, I had a home birth 2nd time and wanted a managed 3rd stage. The midwives missed this bit and assumed I'd want delayed cord clamping and a natural 3rd stage (as many home birthers might I expect)
I had to ask them to cut cord and give the injection to speed up the delivery of the placenta as I wanted the labour to be completed due to being tired, in pain and wanting to snuggle up with my baby.
.......unfortunately the delay in cutting the cord meant that DS had thickened blood and we had a long 10 day hospital stay (we were unlucky).

I'd definitely put this request in bold font next time!

AllSorted Wed 06-Aug-14 06:28:45

I think writing the birth plan was useful for making me consider which options I would want. But it is important to know that it is unlikely to go to plan and be prepared. I think it helps to not be too specific on the plan!

My plan was consulted with birth No 1. I'm not sure how much it was followed, but think it was whilst possible.

Birth No 2 it stayed in my bag as baby flew out far more quickly than I would have imagined possible. The midwife did have a look at it when she arrived, but that was after baby had arrived!

StillNoFuckingEyeDeer Wed 06-Aug-14 06:43:14

I didn't bother writing a birth plan for either of my births. I didn't see the point. I don't think they get looked at and I think there are too many variables to try and make a plan.

If anything, my plan would have said: please try to keep both of us alive and get my baby out as quickly, safely and painlessly as possible, by whatever means necessary.

sharond101 Wed 06-Aug-14 09:16:09

I felt the birth plan prepared me but I wouldn't be upset again if it didn't go to plan.

3boystaxi Wed 06-Aug-14 10:32:44

My wishes were written in length for baby 1 - by 3 it was bullet points!

I think writing the birth plan for the first time makes things clearer in your head, you weigh up all the options, the advantages and disadvantages of them and have a considered opinion and ideas. For subsequent plans you have the benefit of hindsight, have experienced some of the gas and air / drugs etc and you can make a less detailed more specific plan.

I am glad we went through the whole process with no 1 as it did give me a better understanding of what to expect... did we follow it? Not entirely!!!

BubblingBlancmange Wed 06-Aug-14 21:10:57

I have no idea if the midwives read my birth plans for DS1 or DS2 but they quickly went out the window! For me personally, writing a birth plan just got me thinking about my ideal labour / birth - which I'm guessing is the same for everyone - quick and painless with minimal intervention. The fact that both births were far from my ideal does make me a little sad and like I failed somehow.

WheresTheCoffee Wed 06-Aug-14 22:00:40

My birth plan for my first labour was completely different to my second. Looking back, I was naive and expected a level of support from the midwifery team that they weren't able to provide. Second time around, I was a lot more prepared. No, they may not have read my birth plan, but I felt knowledgeable and reassured that I knew what I did and didn't want. Moreover, I now knew that I had a voice! The exercise of writing my birth plan enabled me to research things and make informed choices that I wouldn't have otherwise made.

halestone Wed 06-Aug-14 22:01:07

My only advice to any woman wanting to write a birth plan. Would be don't bother doing it. The baby cannot read your plans and your ideal birth may be a far cry from the actual birth. Have no expectations as it helps to avoid disappointment.

HannahLI Wed 06-Aug-14 22:03:07

My first born was born in the USA and they are very big on birth plans there and they made this really big thing about how important it was. I didn't carry it around with me but to be honest it was really simple in that I didn't want any drugs unless necessary and to go with the flow of it. I felt that I expressed it and got what I wanted. For me I think a birth plan is more a wish list than a reality and that should be clearer when you are making one. In my second birth I wanted a water birth but it didn't happen for medical reasons, for some people this could be devestating for me I just when with the flow.

CheeseEMouse Wed 06-Aug-14 22:05:25

I planned not to have a plan, deciding that it was not something I could control and so having ideas about the perfect birth would not help me. What I did do was discuss with my husband what my views on painkillers were so that he could communicate that if needed.

WarmHugs Wed 06-Aug-14 22:25:46

I think as long as it's a rough guide of what you would PREFER, you can't go wrong. It's when people write a guide and things don't go to plan when disappointment sets in.

My birth plan gave me and dh the time to sit together and discuss the things we wanted. Things I hadn't thought about before.

Both times my birth plan was read by the midwives, and both times I felt that they understood me. I wasn't their typical clientele and I felt it helped them get to know the type of person I am by the preference I had.

Bubbles85 Thu 07-Aug-14 15:35:40

Didn't bother with one and had a great birth because I hadn't built it up. A lot of my friends felt disappointed as theirs didn't work out.

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