What’s Your Birth Plan, Stan?

I got an email from a gal, Lesley, that said: “Wondering what your thoughts and feelings on the birthing plans are, and if you wrote them for your children.  If so, what did you include in your plans, and did the hospital or birthing center follow your requests?”

That’s a damn good question, Lesley. So I asked her I could post the question so other ladies could comment.

Here’s the thing. I had no plan. My plan was to get a healthy, happy baby the hell out of me with as little disfigurement as possible. It wasn’t very sophisticated.

A friend of mine, had a fully written plan including the music she was bringing, when she wanted an epidural and whether or not her husband was going to cut the cord. I was all “I have to do one of those too” but, in reality, I didn’t have a crib when I was 38 weeks pregnant so clearly I didn’t have many of my ducks in a row. Anyway, when the time came, I had a pretty good idea of how I wanted it to go. Some of those things happened and some of those things didn’t but I don’t know how much of that would have changed if it had been written down on a piece of paper.

On an interesting side note, during my second pregnancy, my doctor, in passing said how cute first time parents were. How they both go to all the prenatal appointments and they have their little birth plans all written out. I laughed and said “Oh, ho, ho. Yes isn’t it crazy?” then thought “Shit, the only reason I didn’t drag my husband to all the appointments is because he was really busy at work and I didn’t want him to get fired so we’d be living in a van down by the river with an infant and the only reason I didn’t have a birth plan was because it was on my to-do list that ended up being a to-didn’t.” I’m not sure if all medical practitioners tee hee outside the door if you hand them a birth plan but clearly, mine does.

If you want my counts-for-nothing-asshat opinion, I would say have an idea of what you want to do. Do you want to have a natural child birth or do you want to be gassed in the parking lot of the hospital? Do you want your husband in the room or just the awesome young man at the sandwich stand who told you that you that you looked “rockin’ for a pregnant lady”? Write it all down if you want to. Once you have that all figured out, be prepared to throw it all out the window if needed. I wanted my husband to cut the cord when my son was born but I ended up having a c-section and it didn’t happen. At the end of the day, I just wanted a healthy baby and for me to be around to see him – I didn’t really care how he got here.

I think the more go with the flow you are, the better you’ll feel about it the whole experience. Just don’t plan to give birth painlessly while standing in line at the bank – sadly, that almost never happens.

That’s of course based on my whopping two births with an amazing doctor. What are your plans? What have you experienced? Any horror stories or advice? Help a sista out.

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243 Comments

  • My sister is a Labor & Delivery nurse, so I’ve asked her a lot of questions. From her feedback, a few doulas, & a couple birthing classes, this is what I compiled for some tips:
    less than 1 page really clearly bulleted out of top 5 most important things to you about your birth (not just happy baby, healthy momma). Even the best nurses are under pressure, so giving them something they can absorb in 5-10 seconds will be invaluable. Keep it focused on the positive, not negative aspects of what you’re looking for from the experience. Put a photo of you & your family at the bottom–it will personalize it to them, making you more than patient in room 14 and more easy to remember. With that said, this is my frst, so we’ll see if my game plan comes together. Let me know your thoughts @naturallypregnant on Instagram!

  • As a Project Manager, my entire work-life and personal-life revolves around planning. But I’m pregnant for the first time and know that my type-A personality would be so incredibly disappointed if my labour/delivery doesn’t go as planned. It’s taking every ounce of my strength not to write out every single detail (including assigning resources to each task, tracking % complete & budget!)… but I’m certainly going to try!

  • I just gave birth to my first baby 2 weeks ago. My doctor gave me a birth plan template to use as a guide. It gave my husband and I a starting place to talk about what we wanted to do. I wanted a natural childbirth, so avoiding an IV and cath and being able to eat and having access to a tub were high on my list of things I wanted. My doctor went over it all with me and we both signed at one of my later appointments. When we went in to labor, the first nurse went over it with me again and then she filled in the next nurse at shift change. (Plus they had a copy in my chart.) Despite having my doctor’s approval for no eating restrictions, the doctor on call wouldnt let me eat. Otherwise, everyone followed my wishes. I will write one again next time. My advice though is to focus on your biggest priorities and keep it fairly short and simple. And understand that labor will never go exactly as planned so dont get too set on anything. Also, you are at the mercy of the on call doctor regardless of what your doctor approved.

  • I love reading everyone’s birth experiences. For my son I wrote a pretty detailed birth plan and got most of what I wanted. But you can never prepare for things to go the way you plan just because you’ve written it down. I planned and prepared for a water birth without any drugs or unnecessary intervention throughout my entire pregnancy and that’s what I got. Everyone told me labor with your first child is usually anywhere between 12-24 hours long so when he came after only 7 I was extremely disappointed that my grandma and mom missed it and no one was there to take pictures and it still makes me sad. And despite not wanting drugs or pokes after he was born I was given IV fluids and a shot of Pitocin in my leg which I didn’t even care about at that point. After about 20 minutes I cut the umbilical cord and all was well. I definitely plan to write out another birth plan next time.

  • I am an American living in Germany, expecting my first baby in just a few weeks. When I set up my hospital tour, the guide mentioned that I should bring my birth plan if I had one. Like you, my plan has been all along to "have a baby." I figure I can’t know what I’m going to want, for the most part, until I’m in the moment. However, since it was mentioned, I Googled "birth plan example," rejected several (one was SIX PAGES long!) and found a simple one-page checklist. There were a few things I wanted that are my choice to make (delay cord cutting, skin-to-skin contact immediately, being able to move around while in labor, etc). However, those things are standard procedure in a German hospital anyway, so it wasn’t necessary to have the sheet. Most of my plan involved selections like "I’ll decide if I want pain management and what type once I’m in labor." I don’t even know the answer to things like whether or not I want my husband to hold my hand while I’m in labor. I might. Or I might want to be left the hell alone. How should I know what I’ll want when I’m in pain?

    And it’s not just your doctor who "tee hees" at birth plans. The German doctor I met with told me he finds them a little funny, because birth is simply not something you can plan (my thoughts exactly, doc). He said so many women write things like "I don’t want an episiotomy unless it’s medically necessary." He quipped, "Well, I don’t do them for fun!" (Side note: This is my first baby, so I cannot compare to an experience in a U.S. hospital. I think procedures like that are sometimes done as a matter of routine, but it’s not so here). His advice was just to let things happen, and decide what I want in the moment.

    Anyway, my own mom managed to give birth naturally and without medication three times, and never had a birth plan beyond "have a baby." If I decide I want drugs, I’ll get drugs. If I end up needing a c-section, I will have a c-section. All I care about is getting my healthy baby girl.

  • I just want this baby to come out of me. No plan required except for show up and get it over with and make sure no one forces me to do something I don’t want to do other than push.

  • Again, old post but still…

    For us, our in-development "birth plan" is really geared more towards communicating with staff about certain key factors based on my and my husband’s needs – it’s that simple. I have great ideal situations for delivery but like everyone has said, there’s no point being overly invested in things you can’t control and I refuse to judge myself for any of them.

    But I want people to understand that yup, I have chronic pain conditions that will have been unmedicated for 9+ months so you bet your ass I want whatever pain medication they can give me. My husband doesn’t handle crowds and noise and stress well and won’t be making any decisions or performing any tasks other than holding my hand (not even cutting any cord) – my mom will be the go-to person for decisions should anything go awry. Whatever delivery I have I need to hold my baby ASAP (miscarriage has not been kind to my soul) and then I need to take my first full dose of sweet, blissful pills and there shall be no lectures or judgey looks about breastfeeding cause it would be awesome but isn’t part of my future so get over it.

    Mostly I want everyone to be on the same page so that the dragon living inside of me doesn’t have to awaken any more than giving birth will already inherently require.

  • I made birth plans with both kids. I then discussed the points with my doctor and did not bring them with me to the hospital. I couldn’t imagine when I’d pull them out and show them around, anyway. I think the real point of a birth plan is to start thinking about the details of labor. It gives you a chance to say, "Wait, do I have feelings about vacuum assistance versus forceps assistance? What does my doctor say about the ‘cut it or let it tear’ schism? Maybe I would actually like to labor naturally for a little while." There are questions you don’t think about if you don’t make a birth plan, and once you start making one, you encounter all kinds of things that you weren’t aware of. You decide where you stand on them, and then when you go in to L&D, and the doctor says, "I think you’re too exhausted to push effectively; we have to decide now if you want to try a forceps birth or we’re switching to a c-section," you’re not completely blindsided. Also, if you’re pushing and your doctor says, "All right, I’ve made a small incision to help the baby’s shoulders come out," you’re not thinking, "But I thought it was better to let it tear!" It’s more about being prepared to communicate than handing the staff a concert rider.

  • I had a detailed birth plan for baby #1 (less cos I wanted or needed one, more to keep the midwives in line – our local team does not like strong confident birthers, they like to be the ones making the choices).
    Needless to say things didn’t go to plan, but I came away happy (even happier once the PTSD passed that is, after roughly two weeks) because everything had worked out best for baby and me without my having to compromise on my values.
    I had planned a home water birth with no pain meds and no interference from midwives. In the end I laboured for three and a half days (not kidding – the first three days was at home, in and out of the pool), transferred to hospital cos baby head was stuck at a bad angle (poor kid stayed calm through the whole thing – he’s so resilient), given meds to make the contractions stronger and more frequent (can’t remember the name of them), an IV due to dehydrated and gas n air to help me focus through the pain (those hormone drips really do make it much more painful). Baby took everyone by surprise when he finally arrived (only took 20 mins to push out) and I didn’t do any of the work, I was too tired, my body took over and did what it needed too by itself. As far as I’m concerned (and the nice hospital midwives stated afterwards) it was a miracle that I didn’t have a section (the Dr were saying they wanted one and that I "would have" one – real quote!). Baby was healthy and happy, he stopped crying within seconds of being in my arms. It was the most wonderful feeling and a precious memory that I’ll forever treasure.
    This time around I’ve told the midwives that I’m HOPING/PRAYING for a water home birth, but that we’ll see what happens on the day (or D-day as I like to call it).
    I know I can trust my body if I get too tired. I know I can trust my hubby if I get too emotional (he was amazing last time, I’d not have made it through without him). And I know I can punch the midwife if she tries to force anything I don’t want on me (it’s called self-defense in such a scenario – they are fore-warned).
    And our local midwife team has also learnt their lesson about trying to bully me (if there was a valid reason to then I wouldn’t mind but my pregnancies are perfectly normal – if uncomfortable). We have a nice lady on the team who did my afterbirth care last time, she’s looking after me this time (I have to travel a little extra to meet her but it’s worth it for decent care) and she’s made sure the team know I won’t be bullied and I’ll always do whats in the best interests of my baby (they care too much about their policies).

    I just want to add. Our local community midwife team has about 22 ladies on it. They aren’t bad people (two of them I’d turn away if they showed up on my doorstep on D-day but other others I’d let it). But they are so hung up over policies and sueing fears that they have stopped caring about the labour experience and more about protecting their own backs. I don’t blame them per-say, but I don’t feel totally comfortable with them either. The dear midwife looking after us this time is in a tricky position of advocating my rights and dealing with her policy loving boss (policy here is ‘home births are good but hospitals are easy work, so get them to agree to hospital birth’). I’m not against hospital births, I just know I’d labour better in the comfort of my home with my loved ones near. If I’m less stressed, then my baby is less stressed. Baby is what matter most.

  • I never made a flat out birth plan with either of my first two. And with this one I will not either. I wanted to do vaginally, no medication and my baby stays with me. My first I ended up induced, but other than the Pitocin I got to give birth naturally to my daughter. They tried taking her to the nursery and I threw a fit. I wasn’t able to walk on my own yet (I bruised from half way up my back half way down my ass) so I made my mom go with her. My son I had absolutely all naturally even though I tried to talk them into some drugs at around 8 cm. My husband, my mom, and my doctor all knew that wasn’t what I really wanted. So they refused them to me. They never once tried to take my son from the room with me. I have this horrid horrid fear that someone will try to steal my baby, or that something will happen to them. If something goes wrong I want to be there so that I know everything is being done and there is no neglect. Back to topic, I did not want a C-section or medication unless it was absolutely necessary. And my support team knew this and backed me up 100% of my L&D’s.

  • I’m 33w with my first. We have hired a doula. Hubby does come to my apts with me because he wants to. I tell him he doesn’t have to but he wants to be there so I’m not going to argue with him. The doula is helping us with the birth plan, though both she and my Dr know that I’m realistic. Nothing can be set in stone and we’ll deal with things as they arise. It could be a perfectly normal but fast 4 hour labor or it could be an excruciating 40 hours that ends up in a c-section. I’m not worried about any part of it. We’ve asked the Dr if everything is normal, can my husband catch the baby. She said yes, if there are no major complications, after the head is out and she has checked for the cord, he can definitely grab the shoulders and guide our baby into the world. Again, reality based though. Everything could go to hell in a hand basket suddenly and we end up in the OR. It’s just a nice guideline to have. I’m not worried. I trust my doula, my Dr and myself. Come on, baby! 🙂

  • Anna, thank you for posting your response. I will be writing a birth plan when the time comes for all the reasons you have put.

    The end result I want in my birth plan is a healthy baby but I don't see any harm and actually see a lot of worth in having researched and articulated my preferences. I have absolute respect for the medical profession and my birth plan will in no way be a list of demands that I will feel disappointed if not met and I am well aware that births often are more complicated and involved than we conceive when we are looking at what we would like in an ideal world.

    My opinion of birth plans was formed 5 years ago when I was lucky enough to be my sisters birth partner. Her birth plan allowed me to help her have the kind of birth she wanted (gas & air only and no episotomy). At points during the labour she was floating away on the gas & air and had I not to been able to advocate for her and get her awareness back into the room she would have had an episotomy which she really didn't want.

    I absolutely will be writing a birth that I hope helps my husband in the way that my sisters plan helped guide me

  • Just to add to the conversation (even though this is an old post):

    We did have a birth plan for our hospital birth, and found it was very helpful to organize our thoughts about what we cared most about. It was most certainly NOT meant to be a list of demands on the hospital staff, or an inflexible type-A manifesto. Initially, it prepared us for discussing things with the Ob and the doula before the big day. The final printed plan that we brought to the hospital was short (1 page, large font, bolded keywords), focusing on the things we cared about most, with VERY open wording like "we prefer to have minimal interventions unless medically necessary".

    I was quite aware that things do not always go according to "plan" and did my best to convey respect for the medical team's knowledge, while still stating my key preferences as clearly and concisely as possible. And you know what? It was very well received. I cannot count the number of times we received a compliment about the birth plan from a member of the nursing staff (and there were a lot of nurses, since we were there for a full day of shift changes). They were very positive about it, and appreciated that we knew what we wanted, without trying to micromanage their jobs. It helped them help me through the birth experience of my choice, insomuch as that was possible.

    In my view, the birth plan (be it written or just a mental concept) is a balance between expressing your desires and being flexible to the circumstances. After a very long and tough labor (kiddo was turned LOP but also, unbeknownst to any of us until she was finally born, her hand was trapped by the side of her face), I was fortunate to have a wonderful healthy baby and the bonus of an amazing experience in which I felt fully supported, informed, and respected by all the hospital staff I encountered. I never felt bullied into a course of action, and having my autonomy respected made a huge positive impression on the whole experience.

  • I'm not a mother, pregnant, or anything close, but I feel quite strongly about birth plans. I definitely realize that birth plans can fly out the window. If you or the baby is in danger, yes, you become friends with modern medicine and trust that the doctors will get you out safely.

    However, I truly believe that the point of birth plans is for birth to be a natural, non-traumatic event. For so many women, I've heard and read that their hospital birth left them feeling like a burden that wasn't doing what doctors wanted in the time they wanted it to happen. C-sections are now THE top surgery performed in the US. Why? Because doctors are impatient and it's a lot easier to put a woman on pitocin and "speed things up" and then screw the woman over when her body is like "uh, no, it's not time yet!" I honestly think that the way doctors do things sound just as ridiculous as birth plans may sound to some people out there. Why do doctors get to dictate the plan but the mother cannot?

    When the time comes, I will definitely find a doctor who is willing to work with my requests. The plan may stray because of nature, but the point of the plan is so that your wishes don't stray because of a doctor who takes over and a crappy medical system.

  • Probably a bit silly to post on a year old blog, but in case someone happens upon it while reading archives like me –

    I think a birth plan is an awesome thing to have, but keep in mind, you don't have to share it! My poor husband was too busy to come to childbirth classes or read any books on the subject, so I ended up writing a three page birth plan because it was in large bullet point form with a VERY quick explanation of why I wanted to try for some options and not others. The plan was only for him and me, to keep all the information about stuff that happens in childbirth straight. I have wickedly bad ADHD, so in my case, writing stuff down in clear form made it easier for me to understand and remember.

    This was NOT the birth plan I gave my doctor. Generally an ideal birth plan can be written on an index card, because that's all most of your hospital caregivers are going to have time or mental space to deal with anyway. My plan actually did take up an entire page, but that's because I made the font big and easy to read, and half of the page was a text box containing my basic patient information (medications, pediatrician's number, etc) because paperwork mixups DO happen in hospitals, and it's better to play it safe than sorry in case someone accidentally tries to stick you on penicillin when you're allergic to it.

  • I found this post and the numerous replies very comforting. I'm 26 weeks and was beginning to feel like a bit of a slacker for not having a birth plan beyond, "try for natural, embrace epidural if need be, leave with healthy baby." My mom says my sister and I both came too fast for an epidural, but she highly recommends the pudendal block. I'm hoping quick labor is hereditary…

  • My birth plan is to make it to a L&D room before my 8lb babies just fall out of my pelvis. With my 1st boy I dilated to 5, asked for my epidural, they got the anesthesiologist and the test dose in, checked me and I was 10. 45 minutes maybe? It was another hour before he was born as I had to wait for a doctor and then push. 3 hours in the hospital from "barely 3cm" to birth.

    Boy #2 was a footling breech so I had a c-section, but I just had #3 on the 7th of this month (VBAC). We went to the triage with my contractions all wonky (8-27 minutes apart) and were left in the waiting room for 45 minutes, until my contractions were stacked up on top of each other. Then when they finally got me in a triage room and checked I was 5cm and my water burst on the poor nurse with her hand in there. Half an hour later I pushed a couple of times and the kid was there. 34 minutes after my water broke.

    There was a quiet moment just after he was born where everything was being cleaned up and one nurse kinda snorted and said "Heh, trial labor."

  • My birthplan was in my head and it went something like this: I want a natural birth, unless it gets to painful. (which it did). I want to put off pushing as long as possible and let he baby do most of the work (thanks to my epidural i almost waited to long…)
    Also i had planned ahead for a long labor and was not proven wrong. Lastly I wanted a healthy baby and spent most of my energy thinking of a healthy baby. I knew my plan may not work out, i had no stressful or bad feelings about that and everything went verysmoothly, ifnot exactly like i planned. My plan to not stress over a change in plans was the best plan i ever had!

  • Hey Amy,
    I'm glad that you tackled this subject. I am the mother of seven amazing children… 3 that I birthed, 3 bonus kids from my husband, and one adopted princess. I am also a registered nurse, and have worked in labor & delivery for more than 14 years. Personally, I never had a written birth plan (it wasn't in vogue at the time I birthed my older children), but I have cared for many, many women who deliver in the hospital with a written plan. A written birth plan has very little to do with the obstetrician (except for avoiding an episiotomy), and is usually directed more to the type of nursing care the woman wishes to receive.

    I explain to every woman I labor that my personal philosophy of care is that I am there to support them in having the birth that they want to have, and that the only reason I will not abide by their wishes is if there is a medical reason for me to intervene. This goes for the moms who have written plans as well as the ones who do not, and it applies as much to the women who want a natural labor as it does to the ones who walk in with a bullseye painted on their backs and a plan for an epidural as soon as possible. I am very fortunate to work in a hospital where every member of the nursing staff respects the patient's right to choose, and has the skills to support a woman desiring a natural labor. I really hate that there are so many people out there giving advice to first time parents that they need to "be prepared to fight for everything they want" if they choose to give birth in a hospital setting. Just as not all midwives are the same, neither are all nurses, or all hospitals! This type of teaching sets up an expectation for an adversarial relationship with the nursing staff. Women today do not have to choose to give birth at home in order to have a natural labor that is supported by those around her, and results in a beautiful birth experience.

    I recently cared for a woman who had attempted a birth at our local lay midwife center. After laboring there for more than 2 days she came into the hospital. The physician caring for her allowed her to continue to labor, and push for more than 4 hours. She had a vaginal birth, surrounded by her family and midwife, of an infant who weighed more than 9 lbs, and left the hospital feeling powerful and successful… even though she didn't have the exact birth she planned. There was nothing in our hospital protocols that prevented her from having that experience in a safe, supported environment.

    I have to agree with the others that commented on the Murphy's Law aspect. Most OB nurses and doctors tend to be very superstitious about this type of thing, because it always seems to be the woman who walks in with the 3 page, detailed birthplan for a natural labor who ends up on Mr. Toads wild ride to the OR for an emergency c-section!

    My biggest fear is always that if the birth does not go as written in the plan, the new mom will feel that she has failed in some way. I frequently tell first time moms that it doesn't matter if they have an unmedicated, vaginal birth, an epidural, or a c-section… they all go home with the same trophy if the end result is a healthy baby.

  • My birth plan for my 3 girls was as follows……..1. Go into labour 2. Go to hospital 3. Have baby (3.1 Have epidural if find pain too much). I think there is way to much pressure put on expectant mothers to plan every step of their childs birth. I found that the more you are kind of "go with the flow" the more enjoyable the experience is as you aren't stressing if something doesn't go as planned.I am not saying go in their without knowing what to expect. Talk to your Doctor and Friends who have been there. A lot of hospitals even offer a walk through of the Labour and Delivery floor ???? Women have been doing this since the dawn of time and I don't think the majoirty or even a fraction of them would say they had a "plan".

  • I made a birth plan with a lot of flexibility built in: maybe epidural, maybe not (yes, in fact, epidural). Maybe room in, maybe not (no, baby was in NICU for potential infection, but all is well 9 months later). I ended up getting a surprise c-section, and by then my husband was so emotionally drained that my older sister accompanied me. That was NOT in my plan, but my ultimate (and unwritten) plan was baby out and all of us alive and healthy. That plan WAS followed.

  • Weirdly, I had no birthplan, I just wanted to go with the flow. But when I was induced, had to have an emergency c-section and ended up with a baby in the nicu for 4 days. I kinda felt cheated. Its just hard to deal with. I'm not saying I wished I'd written everything down, I just wish I'd known what to push and what not to. I don't know. Granted I'm super happy baby is here and healthy! I just have more of an idea what to do for baby number 2. And I know I want a different doctor! hehe For the VBAC I think I'm going midwife!

    So don't be married to your birth plan. Maybe birth "guidelines" are a better way to go. Lol

  • My plan was just like Allie's. Let me also say that 16 years ago when I had my first baby, I never heard the phrase "birth plan." We all did pre-natal classes which gave you a general idea of what ways things might go. The only thing I decided ahead of time was whether or not I would be wanting an epidural (can't give you a bigger yes on that).

    I have something of a sense that "birth plans" are the newest way for mommies-to-be to feel in control of the situation as much as they can. That's great, but I think for me it sounds like one more thing I would feel I should be doing and that I would feel like a slacker for not having done. Who needs the extra stress?

    Having had both a vaginal birth and a c-section, I would say the best thing anyone can do for themselves is just to make sure they get enough information about the possible ways things can go so that you will feel prepared and not scared if things start to go differently than you had thought they would. And just remember, the doctors and nurses DO know what they are doing and they very much want you and your baby to leave the hospital happy and healthy.

  • I did not have a written birth plan for my babies, however, I did have a very supportive husband, midwife and doula. With their support and knowledge I had two amazing home birth experiences. I wish that all women can have the birth that they want and if creating a birth plan will help with that then so be it.

  • Ive had 3 babies. my 1st two I went with the flow. my 3rd I had a birth plan. I dont remember anything from my 1st cause i had a reaction to one of the drugs i took. my 2nd was ok. My 3rd however was AMAZING. I had a natural water birth in a hospital.

  • I gave birth three times. It is tough but God
    gave women the strength to handle childbirth! Good luck ladies
    you can do it!

  • Nice to see so many people thinking of a midwife for the next one – as midwife I encourage everyone to think/research the things they do or don't feel strongly about. We also discuss the 'ideal' plan, and where/when things might necessitate a deviation from that plan. What always comes up in research about traumatic birth and postnatal depression isn't how the birth ended up, but rather whether or not the woman felt like her wishes were respected, if events were explained and discussed with her/her partner, and whether she understood what happened and why. THAT'S what birth with a midwife should always entail, and what is often sadly lacking in the hospital system.

    But hurray for safe and happy birthing – however the babies arrive!

  • I never wrote down a plan for either of my children, but I knew what I wanted…both my babies born vaginally without drugs, if possible. Well with baby #1, I wound up on a pit drip, on magnisium, with an epidural after having the narcotic shot (which only made me hallucinate). My epidural worked everywhere, except for a spot about the size of a basketball on my left hip, where I felt every contraction. With my son, I wound up on a pit drip, again, but that was it. Though the doc that was on call wouldn't let me walk around after my water broke, or change in to a clean hospital gown and do a quick sponge bath, since my water broke unexpectedly, and got ALL over my gown and basically me from about mid-abdomen down. That one pissed me off…I was stuck in a disgusting, wet, sticky, and (eventually) cold, gown because no one wanted me to move. I already told my husband that if we have a 3rd, we're going with a midwife.

  • Birth plans sound nice, but they also sound like something for A-type personalities. Not to mention, it's nice to write down what you want, but…maybe do that before you pick an obstetrician/midwife? Then you have that nice handy list to Google what you want and find a place that offers it.

    Besides, as you said, all of The Plan can and frequently does get tossed out the window as soon as it's go time. My nice sweet comfy midwife birth ended up with the FIRE ALARM going off during my transition, so I got wheeled from the birthing center to the hospital wing through the Tunnel Of Doom (I picked a midwife attached to a hospital, because I believe firmly in Murphy's Law), chunked into a hospital shower and bed, never was formally admitted to the hospital so I wouldn't have to do all the stupid "monitoring" shenanigans, and of course the alarm got turned off while I was pushing, so out comes the baby (he punched through like Superman – head followed immediately by a right fist, thanks sweetie), they load us both on a gurney, and wheel us back through the Tunnel of Doom to the nice peaceful cozy birthing center where I'd planned on doing all the hard work.

    The best part? I went back for #2, and all they had on the paperwork was that my last baby had been born at the birthing center. I suppose that's technically true, but the story is AWESOME. If it was me doing the records, I'd have made a note somewhere.

  • I agree with everyone, though I will add one thing. Educate yourself. I know so many women who didn’t plan for an epidural/c-section/induction, etc., and wound up not only disappointed but blindsided. Nurses won’t necessarily tell you everything because they don’t want to scare you and you’re only half-coherent at the time anyway if you’re in the middle of labor. When my sister got her epidural after planning for a natural birth, she had no idea she would be cath’ed, wouldn’t be able to move from bed until possibly hours after the birth, might not be able to push well or hold her own legs up to do so, etc. She was not made aware of the possible risks and side effects. Sure, she signed a sheet, but the blinding pain sort of precluded actually understanding it. I planned a natural birth when my baby was ready, but due to complications I had to be induced. I was able to intelligently discuss all of the options for induction drugs with my midwife and it brought me immense comfort and helped keep me calm in a scary situation. So, that is my advise: be both emotionally and intellectually prepared for all possibilities.

  • I had a birth plan… And very little of it actually happened. And that’s cool. I got what I wanted in the end; a vaginal birth and a real, live baby of my very own to take home with me. For my next kid, there are things I’d like to happen differently but I really cannot complain about my first birth experience because both my daughter and myself came out alive and healthy. I mean, I’m a fatty but I’m.. You know, not dead.

    I just discovered your blog, and 1: it’s effing adorable and 2: you’re effing hysterical.

  • First of all, I totally agree that Lorien is a warrior princess. I’ve seen her armour and it’s pretty awesome.

    On to the subject…I had a birth plan. Both times. I read it. My husband read it. My doula read it. My doctor (who was awesome) skimmed it. I don’t think anyone else did, and since my doctor was out of town (both times), her reading it was kind of beside the point.

    My doctor and I agreed, however, that the general plan was ‘let nature take it’s course, until and unless it looks like that course has us headed over a cliff’, which frankly is pretty much all that the doc needs to know, since they usually don’t show up until the final chapter, as it were. Worked for me.

    As for the lead-up…I wanted no drugs except gas on request, and that is exactly what I got – because my doula and my husband were on it like white on rice. In fact, my births went pretty much as I had hoped, with one minor hiccup in the birth of my second child. Therein hangs a tale, which has nothing to do with birth plans and might cause unnecessary and pointless nightmares to some poor soul, so I shall skip it ;>. But I will agree with everyone else that, plan though you will, Murphy will have a joker in the deck for you somewhere. Plan on THAT, baby.

  • Thanks for copying that over for me! See, between birth plans and copying facebook posts you are totally kicking my ass. I think you’re a Xena Princess Warrior, Lorien. You get shit done.

  • I totally wrote a birth plan. I even edited it and had my doula look it over too. Then I got given the sticky end of the lollypop by the birth fairy: I was induced at 11 days overdue and had an 10.5lb baby by csection after 28 hours of labouring at four centimetres. Haha, joke’s on me!

    In seriousness, though — there is a great quote: "you buy … See morethe hospital ticket, you get the hospital ride." Hospitals will follow protocol regardless of your birth plan. If you want something different, do a home birth with a midwife (I will next time).

    (copied from facebook)

  • I’m always amazed with the HUGE birth plan that contradicts ALL the hospital’s routines. Like, shouldn’t that be the first hint that you truly want an out-of-hospital birth? I tell my students/clients that Birth Wishes are a good thing to write up, but be prepared for having to fight for everything on your list, even if your Doc "signed his name on the bottom of your sheet". The write up is more for you and your partner, to make sure you are both on the same page. This way, partner knows what to advocate for you while you are focused on birthing your baby rather than on getting the doc move this clippers away from your girly-bits.

  • I think Lydia and I must have been twins in another life. Ditto to what she said.
    The best laid plans for birthing can be waylaid by so many things, it’s hardly worth counting. Kinda like what happens after birth, when the bucket o’ baby comes home. (Maybe it’s a good warm up for real life with an infant?)
    All I know is none of my 3 came out according to plan, but they did arrive in one piece and frankly, a few hours into labour, that was all I cared about. I quickly adopted a "whatever works" philosophy after the birth of my first child and it served me very well, especially when my third (yes, third) child arrived a mere 36 months later.
    Whatever you do, don’t set yourself up for disappointment. You’ve grown a baby. Then you’ve pushed (or gotten) it out. Um, that gets a gold star in my book!

  • I agree with the oddly attractive and articulate chicken. Know what you want. But be emotionally prepared for things to happen that are not on your plan. I just worry that mommies will get attached to their plans, and feel that their birth experience was a dissapointment or that they failed somehow if things don’t go according to The Plan. There are just SO MANY factors that can F-up your program. You go into labor in a holiday weekend and your OB is out of town, the hospital floor you’re on is having a staffing issue, every other woman in the tri-state area goes into labor on the same day and you have to share a room with a nice lady who will be tranferred right back to the County lock-up after she delivers, you react badly to the something they give you and break out in itchy hives, your mother-in-law decides to camp out and security won’t throw her ass out, the woman next door is SCREAMING for fourteen consecutive hours, your body decides that the best response to contractions is to puke non-stop… Plan for THAT. You can’t.
    That’s my 2 cents. Don’t be scared. You will feel so much better when that fat, sweet, little baby is on the outside.
    Love, Lydia

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