So, what exactly is a birth and breastfeeding plan? For many mums, the thought of their impending birth and breastfeeding relationship can bring up all sorts of emotions from anxiety and fear to excitement and wonder.
The birth of your baby is going to be one of the most life-changing and memorable times in your life and it is important that you look back on this special time with contentment and pleasure.
A birth and breastfeeding plan is a guide or a framework in which you can describe how you see your ideal hospital experience and feeding goals and share them with your family and healthcare providers.
There is No Right or Wrong Way to Create Your Personalised Plan
Your “perfect” plan, tailored to your needs, will help the birthing team prioritise your desires and ensure that you’re getting the birth and breastfeeding relationship you have been dreaming of.
Occasionally, there are situations and events when things don’t go to plan and it’s important to be flexible. At these times, your plan can be of great benefit to help your team understand your ideal and help get everyone focussed on being able to meet your requests where and as soon as possible.
Let’s Get Started on Your Birth and Breastfeeding Plan!
There are many ways to write your birthing and breastfeeding plan. You may wish to use a structured template such as the Australian Breastfeeding Association’s plan or choose to write down your thoughts in a journal.
No matter which way you decide to record your plan, it should be concise, clear and easy to read. Keep it limited to one page with your main priorities to make it easier for everyone involved.
Getting your partner to help with creating the plan is not only a fabulous way to help them get involved, but also a great way to have someone there who knows your plan inside out and can quickly explain any misunderstandings if they occur and be your voice if things get tough.
Give yourself lots of time to research so that you know exactly what you want and what is important to you. You may want to revisit your plan a few times once you have written it, because your priorities may change as your birth approaches.
Whether you are having your baby in a hospital, birthing centre or at home you might like to have two plans, one for a non-complicated birth and post-partum period and another if complications arise.
What Things Should I Include in My Birth Plan?
During your labour, there are lots of factors to consider. It is important to find out the policies at your place of birth to set realistic goals. Your midwife or Obstetrician will be able to help you navigate. Try visualising what would help you feel safe calm and in control.
Below are some suggestions that may help you determine what is important to you…
Who would you like to be present? Is it important to you to have an intimate space with just a few people or would you like the support of your relatives and children?
What pain relief measures would you like to use and in what order? Do you want to start off with massage, showering and movement and then progress to medications for pain relief? Or do you not want any intervention at all?
What position would you like to birth in? Would you like to be able to move around and use a variety of positions?
Would you like to be the one who brings your baby to your chest after they have been born?
Would you like your partner to cut the cord?
Would you like music playing or other comforts from home?
If you require a caesarean section would you like non-separation from your baby? What other things would help to make you feel at ease?
If you are unable to have immediate skin to skin contact after birthing, would you like a support person to take your place and who would you like to do it?
Let’s Not Forget About Your Breastfeeding Plan!
As well as having realistic clear expectations for your birth it is just as important to have your breastfeeding goals mapped out. Understandably, a lot of preparation is put into getting women ready for birth, that sometimes goals about setting yourself up for a long and fruitful breastfeeding relationship can be secondary.
According to the World Health Organisation it is ideal to breastfeed for two years and beyond and we know that what we do in the first moments and weeks after birth is critical to establishing your breastfeeding journey. So, a watertight plan must include your wishes about setting you up for success.
Before you have your baby, it is advisable to attend a breastfeeding education session at your birthing hospital, through the Australian Breastfeeding Association or by contacting an International Board Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). Click here to find one close to you. This way you will be ready and rearing to go as soon as your baby is born and know when and how to get help if needed.
Here are some comments, phrases and ideas that you may wish to include in your breastfeeding plan….
- I wish to exclusively breastfeed so when my baby is born I would like him/her placed on my chest for immediate skin to skin contact.
- Please assist me and my baby to feed within the first hour after birthing by letting my baby take a baby led approach to find the breast. Please do not force my baby to my breast.
- If my baby is unable to breastfeed please assist me to express and feed my baby my colostrum via a cup, syringe or spoon.
- Please avoid any unnecessary interventions that can wait, such as weighing, until my baby and I are ready.
- I would like to avoid teats and dummies until my baby has established at the breast, so please seek my consent before doing so.
- I only want to supplement my baby with an alternative nutrition source if it is medically indicated.
- If my baby and I are separated or my baby is unable to feed please help me to express (either by hand or by a double electric pump) a minimum of 8 times in a 24hour period starting within the first 3 hours after birth. Please help me to give my expressed milk to my baby.
- If I am having any issues with breastfeeding such as pain, difficulties latching or my baby is unable to feed I would like to see an IBCLC.
- If I have a caesarean section and I am unable to have skin to skin contact please allow my partner or support person to hold my baby skin to skin.
Remember to Take Your Birth and Breastfeeding Plan with You
Now that you have designed your perfect birth and breastfeeding plan, in all the excitement of going into labour remember to take it with you! Make a few copies and give one to your health practitioner and put one in your hospital bag for safe keeping.
All the very best with creating your plan Mama, and don’t forget if you have any questions, Medela are always happy to help you out in any way.
If you are expecting a child soon, do you already have a birth and breastfeeding plan? If you already have children, did you write a plan? What did you learn from the experience? Let’s have a chat!