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The Importance of your Birth Plan

flickr.com/Lars Plougmann

For women giving birth today, the term birth plan is really nothing new although I can’t stand the term myself. I really feel as though it sets women up for much higher hopes regarding how their birth takes place. I know that happened with me when I had my first child, and it happened to many women I have spoken with over the years.

The term “birth plan” gives us an expectation that we can control our childbirth 100% and in some cases that is not possible. During this time I thought a more appropriate term for this list should be putting together and sharing with our providers is “birth wishes”.  Ideas, and expectations we would like for our birth, while keeping our mind open to what can happen in the case of an emergency.

Today Nicholas Alvarado wrote “Writing an Effective Birth Plan” starting off talking about a birth plan written by a labor and delivery nurse in Colorado. The mach birth plan does nothing more than make fun of the wishes of laboring women, and those who comes in with a birth plan they have genuinely taken the time to prepare.

[Insert Name] will be referred to as “The Laborer” for the duration of labor, delivery and recovery. [Handwritten by a colleague: And forever after, too.]

The Laborer has been practicing perineal massage on her cat and will bring in her own bottle of extra-virgin olive oil for use in labor.

While some may be able to find humor in this kind of tongue-in-cheek humor many mothers who have already been disrespected in a birth experience will look at this as one of the major problems with our childbirth system in the United States. The lack of providers involved in our birth experiences willing to listen to the birthing mother, or simply call her by name. Joke or not, Colorado nurse… it just ain’t funny.

My suggestions for writing a birth plan?

Skip those online pre-made plans where you can go down the list and check the little box, include a couple personal things and then hit print. Most of the time those are tossed right into the garbage, or in the way back of your chart. There is one local hospital in my area that calls birth plans an automatic cesarean because of the unrealisitic expectations many click on.

Before choosing your hospital, talk to others who have given birth there. Choosing the hospital closest to your home may not always be the best idea. Investigate the way they handle childbirth in comparison to what you expect for your birth.  This can also help to eliminate issues when it comes to your big day, and communication between your labor team and hospital staff.

Ceridwen one of my other lovely Being Pregnant bloggers wrote an awesome piece back in October about birth plans, with some great advice.  Her 5 pieces of advice include :

  • Think about things you can control and then let go of what you can’t.
  • If you write up a birth plan, keep it simple
  • Be realistic
  • Learn a lot of coping techniques no matter what your “plan” for labor might be.
  • Don’t freak yourself out about pain, be realistic about the fact that labor is hard.

    I think these 5 things are the best advice I have seen in a long time. Yes, labor hurts, but if that is the only thing you focus on while you are in labor, you are going to be miserable and miss all the enjoyable aspects of birthing your child.

    Overall be open minded, especially if you are opting for a hospital delivery. In many cases there is not a lot of wiggle room when it comes to their policies!

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