Birth Plans: Are They Essential or a Hindrance?
Birth plans have become extremely popular in recent years. Some hospitals and midwives will even specifically suggest that you create one. Sometimes, your plan can be used to help you feel comfortable with the birthing process.
For some women, though, a birth plan is a detailed depiction of precisely what they want to happen during delivery.
Many women are adamant about not using drugs, wanting a natural birth, and wanting a vaginal birth (if it’s safe). They may have a specific idea of who should be in the room and how they will get support.
Unfortunately, the delivery experience doesn’t always go as planned. What happens to a birth plan, then?
The Benefits of a Birth Plan
Birth plans are often encouraged for a reason. They can empower women to feel more in control before, during, and after delivery.
This approach is especially helpful for first-time moms who may not know what to expect. Writing out a detailed plan can bring a sense of comfort with that empowerment. Knowing what you want to happen and giving your doctors, family, or midwife a copy of that plan can ensure everyone is on the same page.
Everyone will know what you want, so you can have some control in a situation that can otherwise feel overwhelming at times.
The Best Laid Plans…
However, so many things can happen during delivery that aren’t part of your initial plan. That might leave you feeling like a failure or that you weren’t able to do something you were supposed to.
That’s why birth plans can sometimes be a hindrance rather than a help.
For example, let’s say you put together an extremely detailed plan. You know everything from who you want in the room to which medical interventions you want or don't watnt. You’ve made it clear that you do/don’t want any drugs. Maybe you’ve even written down what you want to happen immediately after the baby is born.
There isn’t anything wrong with that. Remember, this is your baby, and you have the right to feel as comfortable as possible with whatever happens.
But, your ultimate goal should be for the baby itself to be healthy.
Adjusting Your Plans
With that in mind, it’s vital to understand that your plans may change depending on the baby’s needs. Or, you might experience complications that cause you to want something different from your initial plan.
Maybe you started not wanting any drugs, but as the labor process goes on, you do. Perhaps your baby has turned over suddenly, and the doctors need to try a specific procedure. In some cases, you may even need to opt for a C-Section over vaginal birth, even if it wasn’t in your plan.
If you are stuck on your plan, having to adjust it can make you feel defeated. Unfortunately, that can encourage feelings of postpartum depression. After all, if you can’t even stick to your own birth plan, you can’t be a good mother, right?
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Deviating from your birth plan usually occurs because your baby’s wellbeing needs something different to happen. If you are willing to make changes, you are doing so for your newborn’s health and wellbeing.
That shows the selflessness and love only an excellent mother can have. In the end, the only thing that matters is your child and the fact that they are safe as they enter the world. That might require some adjustments and changes as the labor process goes along.
While birth plans can be great for staying organized and feeling in control, it’s essential to be adaptable along the way, so they do not become a hindrance. If you’d like support during pregnancy or after birth, please reach out to me today. I offer a complimentary phone consultation to all potential clients. To schedule yours in a matter of seconds, please check here.
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Jennifer Perera is a mom, spouse and Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has over a decade’s worth of experience in mental health. She has a private practice in New Jersey, with locations in Cranford and Princeton. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual, group and couples counseling. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with a pregnancy loss or infertility. Her other passion is travelling to different parts of the world and her goal is to vacation in a different locale every time. She also has a great fondness for cats!