A birth plan can help guide how your labor goes. This plan communicates your wishes and goals for before, during, and after labor and delivery. In it, you’re able to tell your best-case birthing scenario: how you’d like your labor and delivery to happen if all goes to “plan.”
Besides listing your preferences, most birth plans take into account what’s feasible and what’s available at the hospital or birthing center. But as we’ve all heard, births rarely go how you planned.
So, knowing that births rarely go as planned, you may hesitate to create a birth plan. If your labor and delivery experience isn’t in your control, then what’s the point in planning for it?
Here are five reasons to make a birth plan, even if your baby’s birth doesn’t go as you’d hoped:
1. Creating one starts the conversation with your partner.
No matter who your birth partner is, it’s smart to discuss your plans and priorities before you go into labor. Sharing your birth plan is a great opportunity to be honest about your hopes and dreams for your baby’s birth.
Being honest is important not only for your mental health but the mental health of your partner, too. This isn’t the time to be shy: if they’re going to spend hours helping you in the delivery room, it’s probably fine if they get some harsh honesty.
2. It gives you the chance to research.
There is a ton of information out there about birthing! Books, blogs, stories from your friends, message boards, stories from your mom, and of course, your doctor. All of this information can be helpful if you’re ready for it. So pick your sources and dive in!
3. Making one helps you process your feelings.
A birth plan is more than just a detailed list of your wishes. The process of creatine one will help you get in touch with your feelings and allow you to determine why you want the things you want them. Are you afraid to even think about a medication-free experience? Or are you determined to have a natural water birth? The simple act of recognizing those facts can help you being exploring your more deep-rooted feelings about the birth experience.
And if you’re choosing to place your baby for adoption once he or she is born, you can include your preferences for how things will be handled in the hospital in what’s known as an “adoption hospital plan.” This type of plan includes whether you’re OK with the adoptive parents being a part of delivery, if you want to recover away from the maternity ward, whether you’d like to leave the hospital before the adoptive family, and more.
4. Having a birth plan helps your doctor, nurse, partner, or doula make an informed decision when you are unable to.
The birth process can be chaotic, and many women find that they can’t answer a question during intense contractions. If you created your plan with your partner, they’ll know how to stick to your wishes. Or, simply prop the sheet of paper that contains your birth plan on the nursing station.
5. It can help you find something to be proud of.
If your birth doesn’t go to plan or was traumatic, you may be more predisposed to mental health issues like PTSD or postpartum depression. In that case, we recommend that you seek something in your birth plan that you did do. Be proud of yourself for achieving that goal in the middle of total chaos.
Did you have a C-section but managed to delay cord clamping and have your partner cut the cord? Awesome! Did you achieve the vaginal delivery you wanted, even after 4 hours of pushing? Good for you! Did every single thing on your birth plan go wrong, but somehow you managed to have a baby in the end? Congratulations, you just survived something so wildly chaotic up that you couldn’t even plan for it!
As you can see, creating a birth plan can still be a good use of your time, even if nothing goes to plan!