How to Make a Birth Plan - Guide for Singapore Parents
A birth plan is a document that tells your doctor and the hospital staff how you'd like your labour and delivery to progress. Here are 15 questions you might want to include in your plan.
A birth plan is a document that tells your doctor and the hospital staff how you'd like your labour and delivery to progress. While a birth plan is a good way to prepare for birth, do remember that labour is an extremely unpredictable process; and there are times when your doctor will be unable to follow your requests.
Unfortunately, some doctors in Singapore charge an additional amount (between $150-$350) to review your birth plan so it's best to clarify this from the beginning.
How to make your own birth plan
However, do also note that that there are just as many doctors who will gladly review and follow your birth plan without any additional costs.
Here are a few questions you might want to include in your plan:
1. I would like to give birth at _______ (Hospital? Home? Etc)
2. If labour begins naturally, when would you like to be admitted? (You may begin to start feeling contractions hours before your water breaks, so it’s completely up to you whether you want to head right off. Going to the hospital too early may mean that you end up waiting in the ward for a long time to go into true labour. And, labouring at home for the first stages may be more comfortable, compared to being hooked up to a monitor).
3. What birthing aids would you like? (A birthing pool - only available at NUH, birthing stool, birthing ball, aromatherapy, music, heat packs, a mirror so you can see your birth?)
4. What sort of ambience would you like the hospital to be? Would you like dim lights, music to be playing?
5. Who do you want in the room with you when you deliver and/or need a C-section? Having a partner you can lean on or support can be very useful during labour. Most hospitals in Singapore allow a maximum of just 1 companion in your birthing room (excluding your doula). Would you like this companion to be your spouse or your own mother perhaps?
6. What type of labour do you want? There’s several labour and delivery options available to you as an expectant mother. You could opt to have a natural birth without pain relief, a natural birth with pain relief, or an elective C-section. Explore all of your options and give it some serious thought. When you’re in labour, you won’t be in the right state of mind to be making decisions then. It’s something you should talk about with your doctor also, who knows your medical history and can give you more information. Here are details on various pain relief options.
7. Are you willing to have an induced labour? Your doctor may suggest induction, if he or she is not available to deliver your baby on the day you’re due. Or perhaps you are having contractions but your water has not broken. In either case, you need to make a decision about when you want labour to begin. Again, it’s worth giving serious thought beforehand, especially if you’re wanting a relatively drug-free labour and delivery. Circumstances happen that you may not expect, so talk to your doctor.
8. Are you willing to have an emergency C-section if required?
9. Are you open to an episiotomy? (An episiotomy is a surgical cut to your perineum, which is the muscular area between your vagina and your back passage. This cut helps your baby to be born, particularly if you're having an assisted birth or if your vagina is not stretching enough during birth).
2. After birth
10. What would you like to do with the placenta after giving birth? (Would you like to have it encapsulated for your consumption? Encapsulation services cost around $300 for about 150 capsules. In Singapore, placentophagy is fairly common as the dried placenta is believed to be restorative).
11. Cutting of baby's cord. When should they cut the cord? Who will cut baby's cord? Do you consent to umbilical cord clamping prior to baby establishing respiration?
12. Do you intend to cord blood bank? (Your baby’s umbilical cord blood is a precious source of stem cells that can potentially save lives. Do you want to donate it to a public cord bank or pay to have it privately banked in case you need it? Both options have their pros and cons, so it’s something worth looking into).
13. Do you have any special wishes for the first moments after your baby is born? Do you want your baby cleaned before he is given to you or do you want him put into your arms immediately? Would you like skin-to-skin contact?
14. Do you want to be left alone with your baby and your partner for a few minutes immediately after the birth?
15. What are your desires with regard to breastfeeding? (In fact, evidence shows that the best time to begin breastfeeding is within 30 to 60 minutes after birth, when the baby is most alert. WHO recommends that mothers exclusively breastfeed their baby for six months after giving birth).
3. Additional tips for writing a birth plan
1. Use short paragraphs, clear sub headings and bullet points where possible and avoid convoluted language.
2. Discuss your birth plan draft with your doctor. These discussions will help you learn how compatible your wishes are with your doctor’s and hospital’s practices.
3. Keep a positive tone about what you want and don't want in your plan. In addition, you should present your plan as a request rather than demands.
4. You should print out copies of your birth plan for your doctor, send one to the hospital, give one to your coach, or hubby and bring one with you on D-day.