Your birth plan is more than just a piece of paper.
Imagine yourself getting ready for your wedding. You’re inviting 200 people. You’ll want a caterer, a DJ, a florist. There’s attire to purchase and
rent. You sit down at your bridal shower, full of hope and joy, and pull out your wedding binder – your plan for the momentous occasion. Gasps echo from around the room. Murmurs of “Oh, she’s one of those brides,” and “Best way to not get what you want is to write a wedding plan,” come from every corner. Your great aunt pats you on the head and says, “Honey, what if it rains? What if you get the flu? What if the cake gets dropped on the way into the reception? You just can’t possibly plan for a wedding, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.”
Hard to swallow that image, right? Somehow, in a world where it is common (and encouraged!) to plan out almost every aspect of our lives, the idea of creating a birth plan can often make waves of a negative variety. There is a pervasive belief that by planning for the type of birth we want, we’ll be devastated if we get the birth we don’t.
With this in mind, many people choose to forgo creating a birth plan altogether. The idea is that if you simply don’t ask for anything at all, it will increase the odds of ending up satisfied. The fact remains though, people experience disappointment every day – planned for or not.
Creating a birth plan doesn’t jinx your chances of having a fantastic birth. Like taking a childbirth class or interviewing different medical providers, it’s simply a tool you can use to work towards your best birth.
Can birth really be planned for?
At Doulas of Baltimore, we always advise our clients to create a birth plan or list of preferences for each stage of labor. We believe in the power of birth plans so much we even created a plan-building worksheet we share with our clients! Given the variations on births we’ve seen and knowing the infinite outcomes possible, why do we still encourage our clients and childbirth students to plan for something that seems unplannable?
Birth plans are not just a piece of paper. In fact, it doesn’t need to be on a piece of paper at all – this is all about working your way through the decisions, options, and scenarios you may encounter during your experience of birthing your baby.
The process of identifying your preferences is one of the best steps you can take to become informed about possibilities in childbirth. This means that even though you may be checking box A, you’ll already be informed about what boxes B and C hold. Then, if the time comes you need to deviate, you know your options and you can more easily transition between them.
What will my nurse or OB/midwife think?
Clarifying your birth preferences can help your providers, too. Go back to that wedding scenario in your head – what might it be like if the florist was given free reign to do whatever they wanted? They’re a great florist after all. The flowers might be beautiful. Or they might be exactly what you wouldn’t want. Whether in need of an obstetrician or a florist, choosing a provider who both excels in their field and values your input makes an enormous difference in how we experience a life event, regardless of the details and outcomes.
By creating a flexible birth plan, knowing that the principle of overriding concern is ALWAYS healthy mom/healthy baby, you give your birth team the opportunity to get on the same page!