Why it’s important to have a birth plan even when things don’t always go according to plan.
I love to look over my client’s birth plan, in fact, I give them a sample birth plan with their paperwork so that they can give me an idea of what they want their birth to look like. But I always make sure that they understand that just because they are writing a plan that they need to hold their plan with an open hand. Birth is unpredictable and can change at any moment that's why it's important to become informed about the birth you want, talk with your birth team about what roles you want each of them to play, talk with your care provider, and try to ensure the best birth possible for you and your baby.
Here are just a few reasons that I think it may be important for you to make a birth plan.
1. To become informed and educated.
Even if you are hiring a doula it is important that you become informed about your birth. Writing a birth plan forces, you to become informed so that when you make decisions you can make an educated decision. You have options, find what your options are. Ask your care provider, search the internet, speak with other moms. Take a birthing class, learn about different alternatives. Research medications and interventions (both benefits and risks). Familiarize yourself with birth-related terminology so you can understand what is going on around you and nothing can sneak up on you. And learn about how you and your baby's body is designed to work in childbirth. The more educated you are, the more likely you are to make an informed decision. One of my favorite birth book is "The Birth Partner ” by Penny Simkin. Its written for the partner, but it is a wonderful resource for first time parents. She covers almost everything that you need to know about what to expect without telling you what to do. She gives you information, but lets you decide what you want for your birth.
2. To be able to talk with your husband.
Does your husband know what you want? How do you want your husband to participate in the birth? There are so many amazing ways that he can help you bring both of y'all's child into the world. Talk with him, have him be a part of your birth. Ask if he has any ideas about how he wants to help you.
3. To show how you want your birth team to work.
Each woman is different, so what each woman wants is different. I think that a birth plan is important if you plan to have others there with you so everyone knows what you want. Make sure to walk them through it in advance and expand on key points. This is one of the most important things you can do to have a doula that can really help you. I have had clients tell me that they have had a doula at their pervious birth that did work the way that they wanted. That is one of the best reasons to make a birth plan to help your doula help you. Tell her what you expect, what you want and don't want.
4. To give you an opportunity to talk to your health care provider.
Unfortunately, women go into birth with a spectator mentality. The care provider says “jump!” and she says “how high?” Remember that your care provider is subjective. Their recommendations will be based on their experiences, the professors that trained them, the providers they interned under, the cultural norms where they practice, the hospital and insurance provider’s policies, etc, etc. Sometimes their workload can even factor into the decision that they make. Now please don’t misunderstand me (I will never tell you not to listen to you care provider), I believe you should listen to what your care provider has to say, and ask her opinions and advice. Always. (She endured medical school so she could help you, and you choose her to take care of you.) Her advice is very important, but at times may not be the best option for you. Only you can determine how you’d like to attempt to birth your baby in a way that you are comfortable with. Talk with your provider beforehand to make sure that you guys see eye to eye.
5. To ensure the best birth possible for mother and baby.
And lastly, we want to have a healthy baby delivered with no complications. That’s a given. But we also want to have a healthy mama – physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have found that women will prepare for their birth in the way that they plan for their birth, so if she is planning for a birth that is completely medicated and ends up having a surprise unmediated birth (and vice versa) that can mess with how they recover. It’s important for a woman to have a birth experience in which she feels empowered and supported to do what she was designed to do as much as possible. She will carry on these feelings into those vulnerable first months of motherhood, where every bit of confidence helps! In addition to that, all moms want to welcome their baby into the world in the best possible way.
I know that birth doesn’t always go according to plan. Things change, there is always something that you were not expecting. Understand that just because your birth doesn't look like your birth plan that doesn't mean that you failed. You are amazing, and you CAN do it!
But even when it doesn’t work out, having a birth plan in place can help guide you in important decisions and be vital to establishing good communication between you, your partner, and your care providers. And that is always important!