Whether you’re planning to have your baby at home, in a birthing centre or in hospital, there are things that you should think about before your baby is born.
Your midwife (or specialist doctor) will help make a birth plan with you. You and your partner should also think about the things that you need for the birth and what you need to do to get your home ready for baby’s arrival.
A birth plan
As part of planning for your care, your midwife (or specialist doctor) will help make a birth plan with you. The plan describes your wishes for the labour and birth. It’s also useful if your midwife (or specialist doctor) can’t be with you during your labour and birth for any reason, as the backup midwife (or specialist doctor) will know what your wishes are.
These are some of the things to think about.
- Where you want to give birth – at home, in a birthing centre or in hospital.
- Who you want with you during the birth (you may need a backup person too).
- How you would like the place of birth to be set up, such as with your own pillow, music and lighting.
- What pain relief you would like, if any, such as water, acupressure, gas and air (a mixture of nitrous oxide and oxygen sometimes called Entonox), pethidine, morphine or fentanyl injection, or an epidural.
- What you would like to do with the whenua/afterbirth (placenta).
You may be excited to meet your baby but worried about labour and birth. Having a baby is a natural, normal process and some women look forward to labour and birth, to see how their body responds to this amazing event. Other women worry that they may pass a bowel movement (poo/tuutae) as they push out the baby, and some worry about the safety of their baby during labour. Talk with your midwife (or specialist doctor) about any worries you may have.
Remember that sometimes things don’t go to plan. If there are complications during labour or birth your midwife (or specialist doctor) will be making sure that you and your baby are safe first of all. Some women like to talk about such moments beforehand – others prefer to wait and see what happens at the time.
You can find out more about birth plans on the NHS Choices website.
Preparing for baby’s birth
Whether you are planning to have your baby at home, in a birthing centre or in hospital, you should get a few things ready at least 2 weeks before your due date. Preparing for the birth includes the following.
- Having bags packed for you and baby – your midwife may give you a list of things to pack (also for a home birth in case you need to transfer to hospital).
- Organising transport to the birthing centre or hospital when planning a birth away from home.
- Knowing who your support people will be – and how to contact them.
- Having childcare organised for other children.
- Having a baby car seat already installed in the car (hospitals and birthing centres will not allow you to leave unless they have seen your car seat or capsule).
- Thinking about what you need if you are having a home or water birth. Talk about your plans and what you need to prepare with your midwife. You can also see the Preparation and Practicalities section on the Home Birth Aotearoa website.
- Knowing what the signs of labour are.
- Thinking about which general practice you would like to enrol your baby with.
Classes about pregnancy, giving birth and parenting (sometimes called childbirth or antenatal classes) can help you to learn more about pregnancy and how to prepare for labour, birth and the first few weeks after baby is born.
Getting your home ready for baby
Your baby needs a safe place to sleep. They need to be in their own cot, bassinet or other baby bed for every sleep. Find out more about Keeping baby safe in bed.
If you need financial support to help with the cost of having a baby, see the Work and Income website.
After your baby is born you won’t want to do much more than rest and care for your baby, so do as much planning as you can in advance. Stock up on basics, such as toilet paper, sanitary pads and nappies. If you have a freezer, cook some meals in advance and freeze them. Ask your partner, whānau and friends to help you.