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Pregnancy is overwhelming.
The number of decisions made during this time rival any other major event in your life. Should you take part in genetic testing? Will you find out the gender? Do you want a flu shot? Where will you deliver? Every step of this experience requires answers. Yes, we all want to do what’s best, but some things that are simply out of your hands. Enter, your birth plan.
Your birth plan is so important. It’s mentioned in doctors offices, hospital registration forms, and literally every baby app ever. So you hop on Pinterest and search for examples of a good birth plan. Some are written out in long form, while others are check boxes and fill in the blanks. You find one that covers as much information as possible, spend hours completing it, and then pack it in your hospital bag. 7,000 new decisions have been made in that one form… and done. Right?
Here’s the real truth – your birth plan doesn’t matter that much. Yes, it’s fantastic to be prepared, but know that there are circumstances where that document with be completely useless. Unpredictable events happen all the time. Maybe you won’t have time for an epidural. Maybe your labor stops and needs to be pushed along. Maybe skin to skin isn’t an option with your new baby. Maybe there are complications that call for a procedure you didn’t foresee.
So, what can you do?
Completing a birth plan is still a good idea, but don’t search for the biggest or the best form to complete. And definitely, don’t spend too much time completing it. The longest forms often contain some of the most useless information. Honestly, all a birth plan needs to include is basic information on your current health issues (i.e. preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, etc.) what kind of delivery you expect to have, medication preferences, and a list of people you want with you in the delivery room (think hard on this one, it’s not as many people as you might think).
The best plan for delivery is one that is curated over the course of 9 months with your chosen delivery partner. Whether it be your spouse/partner, best friend, or parent, you should be able to have open and honest conversations about your expectations, desires, and what to do in the event that you are unable to make decisions yourself. This person needs to be someone you can trust completely. Who knows you wholly, and can confidently speak on your behalf. Sometimes this is not the obvious solution (spouse/partner), so be sure to choose wisely. Also, if you do choose to have more than one person in the delivery room, make it clear who will be the one to speak for you. You really don’t want to be in the middle of a power struggle between two delivery partners while you’re busy giving birth!
Use your birth plan as a guideline. Put your trust in your delivery partner. Have faith in yourself. If you have a non-emergency delivery, odds are pretty good you will be able to carry a conversation with the nurses. They will appreciate having a ‘cheat sheet’ birth plan on hand (especially when they have a shift changeover), but mostly they will benefit from speaking with you in the moment. Have confidence in yourself and your decisions, and you will not be talked into doing something you don’t want to do (unless medically necessary, of course). Stay calm. Trust your body. Communicate. You’ve got this.
Best of luck to you, Momma to be!