Ok, you’re pregnant Great! You managed to get the baby in there, but what’s your plan for getting it out? Enter: the birth plan. Immediately followed by everyone telling you that births never really go to plan.
So, knowing that births rarely go to plan, you may balk at the idea of creating a birth plan. If your birth experience isn’t totally in your control, then what’s the point in planning for it? And yet, so many women make a birth plan to bring to the hospital on D-Day. Why?
Here are five solid reasons to create a birth plan, even if your birth doesn’t go to plan:
1. Creating a birth plan helps you process your feelings.
A birth plan is more than the final list of your wishes. The process will help you get in touch with your feelings and lead you to discover why you want the things you want. Are you super set on a natural water birth? Or are you afraid to even THINK about a medication-free experience? (Give me ALL THE DRUGS!!) The simple act of acknowledging those facts can get you started exploring your deeper feelings about the birth experience.
2. It gives you the opportunity to do some research.
You guys, there is so much information out there. So. Much. Information. There are books, blogs, message boards, stories from your mom, stories from your friends, (much embellished) stories from your frenemies… in addition to, you know, your actual doctor… But all of this information can be helpful if you’re ready for it. If you don’t do your research, how are you supposed to know that you can hypnotize yourself through a drug-free birth in a kiddie pool in your living room? (Yes, that is an option.) So pick your sources and dive in!
3. Creating a birth plan opens the conversation with your partner.
Whoever your birth or parenting partner is (your husband, wife, mom, brother, one-night stand who is going to platonically stick around and help pay the bills), it’s best if you discuss your plans and priorities in advance of the actual birth. Creating a birth plan is a great chance to be honest about some of your hopes and dreams for the birth of your child. You’re going to have some tough times in the early days of parenting, so it’s best to get some of the emotions on the table before the baby comes. Honesty is crucial to your mental health and the mental health of your partner. Don’t be shy: if they’re going to spend hours staring down the barrel of your stretching, screaming hoo-ha, it’s probably fine if they get a tiny glimpse of your soul.
4. Having a plan helps your partner, nurse, doula, midwife, or doctor make an informed decision when you can’t.
Speaking from experience here, the birth process is chaotic. Sometimes, in the middle of intense contractions after eleventy million hours of labor, you can’t answer a question. You just… can’t. Birth plan to the rescue! If you created your plan with your partner, they’ll know how to best stick to your wishes. But even if you don’t have a birth partner, just having that sheet of paper propped on the nursing station can do wonders for salvaging some last vestiges of your wishes when everything else is going to shit.
5. A birth plan can help you find something to be proud of even when it feels like absolutely everything went wrong.
Remember when people told you that births never go to plan? Yeah, turns out that was true, even for you. If your birth doesn’t go to plan, especially if it’s traumatic in some way, you may be extra prone to some mental health trouble, like postpartum depression or PTSD. As part of your postpartum mental care, find something in your birth plan that you did do and be proud of yourself for achieving that goal in the middle of absolute chaos. Did you manage to have a vaginal delivery even after 3 hours of pushing? Good for you! Did you have a c-section but still manage to delay cord clamping and have your partner cut the cord? Awesome! Did literally every single thing on your list go to absolute shit but somehow you still had a baby in the end? Then congratulations, you just survived something so wildly messed up that you couldn’t even plan for it. Woot!
In the end, you may actually get to have the birth of your dreams. It is possible! But even if nothing actually goes to plan, creating a birth plan was still a good use of your time. I promise.
Did you have a birth plan? How well did it apply to your birth? Let us know in the comments!