Birth plans. Let’s go there. I am often asked when a woman should start preparing her birth plan. My answer might surprise you — never.
It’s important to note that every woman is different. Some women advocate strongly for having a birth plan, and I get it. With all the unknowns, it may give you a sense of peace to have the details worked out ahead of time.
But here’s the problem: Birth plans aren’t foolproof. Childbirth does not always go as expected. Like motherhood. Like life. If things get derailed from your perfect plan, it only creates more stress. I don’t want anything to take away from your joy of motherhood, and that includes guilt about things not going according to your specific plan.
The bottom line is this — it is your body and you are in control. Your physician wants you to have preferences and wishes for what happens to you.
That being said, you should absolutely have preferences. There are some important questions to think through related to your pregnancy and childbirth experience, including:
- Do you want a non-interventional labor? (our medical term for what most people call “natural birth”)
- What are your thoughts on having a C-section?
- Will you want an epidural?
- What about an induction?
The bottom line is this — it is your body and you are in control. Your physician wants you to have preferences and wishes for what happens to you. It’s only natural. It is also normal to be unsure and even change your mind. Your OB/GYN is there to help you figure it out and decide what makes sense for you and your baby.
There is so much pressure these days for women to give birth “right”. I know a lot about childbirth. I mean, a lot. As in, years of practice, thousands of births, kind of a lot. You can trust me when I share this truth: How you give birth has nothing to do with what kind of mother you will be. If that is a burden you are carrying, I want you to know what a great mother you already are.
In my opinion, the perfect birth plan is:
- Happy, healthy mom. Happy, healthy baby. This includes avoiding unnecessary interventions.
- Open and flexible. If something doesn’t feel right, let’s talk about it.
I will share a secret with you. A lot of the birth plan requests I receive are part of our routine care. This includes skin-to-skin contact and delayed cord clamping at delivery, avoiding routine episiotomies and supporting breastfeeding. That being said — if those things aren’t your cup of tea, we support those wishes too.
You and your body are capable of miraculous things. If you can embrace the unknowns as part of the miracle, you may even find power and peace in the process.
This can be an exciting but scary time full of so many unknowns. What will happen? How will it happen? When will it happen? You may think the idea of a birth plan will help you feel some control during this life-changing event. Talk to your OB/GYN about your thoughts and worries, and let them guide you.
You and your body are capable of miraculous things. If you can embrace the unknowns as part of the miracle, you may even find power and peace in the process. Choose a care team that you are comfortable taking with you on this amazing journey.