Should you create a birth plan? It can be a helpful tool for making your wishes known both to your healthcare provider and the labor & delivery staff, but it also seems a little silly to plan something like one’s labor: after all, if we could control it, we would all have easy births.
When I first heard about birth plans, I decided that they weren’t for me. I’m a very Type A person; I get stressed if even my silliest of plans get messed up, if they’re ones I’m excited about. Trying to plan my baby’s birth, and everything that would come in her life to follow, seemed like a recipe for disaster. Sometimes I already feel like I’m fighting an uphill battle to stay calm and stress-free about childbirth, so introducing something like a plan, when I’d inevitably get upset if it didn’t happen, didn’t sound like a good idea.
My doula and others in my prenatal yoga class agreed with me. But when I took my childbirth class, I started to think differently. You see, there are two kinds of different birth plans, and I had been assuming that they were all the same.
Some people write several-paged birth plans. They have every detail set out, from exactly what’s going to happen when and what they will and will not choose to do. But we can’t control our childbirth experiences down to every detail. Why try? Now, obviously many people aren’t like me, and they could write a several-paged birth plan and have no problems throwing it out the window later, if necessary.
But why go through all of that work? Instead, with a birth plan it’s best to decide what’s of the utmost importance to you during labor, and just cover that. As my childbirth class instructor said, your birth plan should fit on an index card. That makes it quick and easy to read for anyone receiving it, and also allows you to feel more flexible should labor not go, well, according to plan.
I’m trying to plan as little of my childbirth as possible. I’m not committing to natural childbirth, nor am I saying I’ll definitely go for pain killers. I don’t know how I’m going to feel, what it’s going to be like, so I’m just going to listen to my body and do what I can. I’d like to give it a go naturally first, and if I go for an epidural, I’d like to try to wait until I’m around 5 centimeters dilated. But I don’t want to feel like a failure if I can’t make it that far, so I’m not putting that in my birth plan.
Only a few things are really important to me in labor. The biggest one that comes to mind is that I want to be given my baby immediately. I don’t want her taken away for any tests or treatments for the first 1-2 hours, unless she requires urgent medical attention. That’s what my midwife does by default, but it’ll still be useful for the hospital staff to know that. So I can see the wisdom in having a very short birth plan, so that the staff is aware of these few things that are important to me.
Your birth plan should feel right to you, but always remember that you can’t plan out every little detail, so it might be best to go for less.
*(The above image by photostock is from freedigitalphotos.net).