Avoid Potential Birth-Plan Pitfalls
Birth plans make pretty great advocacy tools, but they aren’t always perfect. Here are some common birth-plan pitfalls and how you can avoid stumbling into them:
- Not making a plan because you feel overwhelmed: Considering all the options for your birth can be overwhelming. So many choices to make! If you feel exhausted just thinking about it, remember that you don’t have to have an opinion on every aspect of birth. Just because you have options doesn’t mean you must specifically choose one or the other.
If you don’t have strong feelings about an issue, you can go with whatever your medical practitioner suggests or whatever feels right in the moment. Creating your birth plan should be an energizing experience and a chance to really take charge (as much as possible) of your birth experience. The key is to feel empowered, not overwhelmed, by all your choices.
- Assuming a birth plan is only for natural births: Many aspects of the birth and the immediate postpartum period have nothing to do with using drugs or not. Even within the option of using an epidural, you have choices, like when to start it, whether you want a walking epidural, and whether you want it turned down when it’s time to push.
- Being inflexible: Critics of birth plans say that they set women up for disappointment. If a couple’s birth goes badly, they may feel they failed in some way, like their plan wasn’t good enough.
Creating a birth plan isn’t about trying to control birth, and it’s not about restricting the possibilities of what’s considered a positive birth experience. If you keep in mind that your birth plan isn’t a contract but more of a flexible guide, you’re less likely to feel disappointed if a few little things go differently than planned.
- Not standing up for your decisions: Writing down your birth wishes is only the first step to getting the birth you want. You also need to speak to your practitioner before labor begins if you want him on your side. During the birth itself, you’ll likely need to work with the nurses and advocate for your plan, especially if your wishes run contrary to the hospital’s routines.