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Should You Ditch the Birth Plan?

October 27, 2011

Having witnessed the disappointment of so many new moms when their birth plan doesn’t go exactly according to, well, plan, I sometimes do think—yes—just ditch the birth plan! While I do believe there’s incredible value in parents-to-be discussing and writing out their birthing goals and wishes, and sharing them with care providers, the mindset of having a set plan can inhibit them—especially when it’s something completely generic or unrealistic printed off the Internet or copied straight from a book. To help avoid that unnecessary guilt about birthing outcomes and circumstances here are three tips for expectant moms and dads to consider when preparing for the birth of their baby:

Be open minded

No matter the hospital or birthing center, the ultimate goal is universal: healthy mom, healthy baby. Each of your aims for the labor and birth experience should be respected and supported by your care providers, but keep in mind that it is possible for medical circumstances to alter the course of things. Should anything unexpected arise, such as the need for a cesarean section, be open to discussing options with them, and try not to place unnecessary pressure on yourself. After all, through pregnancy and birth, you and your body are carrying out one of life’s most remarkable events!

Knowledge is key

Education is central to achieving the birth you so desire. Whether you are seeking to have an unmedicated birth or feel you’d prefer an epidural for labor, learning about all aspects of childbirth is a positive thing—surprises in the midst of such a meaningful life moment are not. The more you know about your body and the progression of labor, pain management options and relaxation/breathing techniques, and how various medications and procedures work, the better position you will be in to make informed decisions and feel good about your birthing experience. Take a class with your partner, read, and ask lots of questions of your care providers and instructors!

Create a Personalized Birthing “Wish” or “Preferences” List

Having a solid “birth plan” can sometimes set moms up for disappointment. Instead, as you learn about labor and birth, discuss with your partner how you feel about its many aspects. Based on that, develop a wish list for your birth that can remain fluid depending on circumstances, but that also clearly communicates your feelings and hopes to your care providers.

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