Many women feel it’s necessary to create a birth plan.  The plan, which can be as simple as a few ideas scratched on notebook paper to something downloaded from the web, customized, printed and signed by you and your partner. Either way, a birthing plan has one main purpose: to serve as a communication tool between you and your provider (s) so you can have the kind of birth you really want. But does a piece of paper really guarantee that? In my experience your “plan” can only take you so far and the rest is up to nature and your resolve.

The Good Points

I’m going to try very hard not to down the birth plan—I’ve seen it work and everything flow directly by the wishes of the mother and I’ve had them thrown out the window within the first hour of labor due to some unforeseen circumstance. I always feel bad for the women who cling to that sheet of paper as if it has some sort of magical power over their baby’s intolerance to labor or their pain level they can barely manage. Keep in mind that birthing plans are meant to be adjusted as needed.

  • A birth plan can help you communicate your desires for labor and postpartum with staff.
  • It may help mothers feel more in control during labor
  • Helps facilitate the mothers inclusion in the decision making process, even in a changing situation
  • Can be shared with providers, nursing staff and birthing centers prior to delivery, and communicates your wishes about pain control, IV access, mobility, episiotomies, water birth,  vaccines and medications for baby, circumcisions and more

The Bad Points

Now I know it won’t be this way for everyone, but in some cases the birth plan becomes an emotional anchor—but not the good kind—the big heavy kind that keep you in one place kind.

  • Birthing plans can stress you out. Looking at the wishes on your sheet of paper can trigger even more anxiety than you already have about making sure everyone has a copy, and has everyone read it? What if they didn’t read it? What if my doctor didn’t read it? Do I need to take more? Can I remember everything?….you get it.
  • You forget to be flexible.  For most any woman who has had a baby, the experience had a surprise somewhere. Something that couldn’t be planned for, something that couldn’t possibly have fit on a birth plan. So what’s wrong with just going with it, doing the best you can and letting nature do what it needs to do.

Having a baby isn’t about what you can control. It would be nice if, as a laboring mom , you could oversee each and every moment, but it doesn’t always work that way. Of course there are exceptions, but remember that your birth plan won’t solidify a perfect experience.  Still want one? Good. Go for it, share it, tweak it and think on it, but also be prepared to adjust it if you need to when the big day comes.  If you have questions about your birth plan, come see Dr. Hessel and let her guide you through what to expect and how she can help you reach your delivery day goals.