There I said it. I don’t believe in birth plans. “What?! You’re a doula who doesn’t believe in birth plans? Who are you?!” I know, I know, it’s unconventional and certainly not normal to hear a doula say that, but let me explain a bit first. I promise you’ll understand a bit better once I’m done :).
For many women/birthing people, the moment they find out they’re pregnant, they start researching all sorts of things. What should I expect during this pregnancy, what are normal symptoms, how much weight should I gain, etc. Inevitably, they start to wonder what labor and birth feels like. From there, lots of research and planning goes into what type of birth they hope to have. Unmedicated, epidural, C-section, and every scenario that leads to those options runs through their minds. If they’ve decided on a doula, they start to envision how their doula will help them achieve the birth they’d like to have. But what isn’t talked in depth about too much is all the ways in which birth can end up NOT going the way you thought it would.
For first time moms in particular, their body has never done this before. So they literally don’t know what to expect. And just because your sister’s best friend’s cousin thought it wasn’t that painful at all, maybe you are more sensitive to the intensity of labor and your plans to go completely unmedicated change midway through when you realize you’re too tense during contractions and your body can’t relax enough to open up the way it needs to. So an epidural is your best option.
During consultations with prospective clients (before they even sign on) I make it a point to mention that I prefer to call birth plans “birth wishes or preferences” because you don’t know how you’ll react or what will be best until the time comes! During my prenatal sessions, I walk through a lot of information that helps my families develop their birth wishes or preferences but I never call it a “plan” and I encourage my families to not call it that either. Why?
What happens when you plan something out to a tee and then it doesn’t end up happening the way you planned it to go? Do you feel disappointment? Anger? Sadness? Now, imagine feeling those things AFTER you’ve had a baby. When your hormones are at levels they’ve ever been and you’re having to also learn how to take care of your new body and your new baby? That would be SO HARD.
Instead, what if birthing people went into labor with a very open mind and the mantra of, “Healthy mom, healthy baby, and whatever we need to do to get there?” And sure they would have wishes and preferences for what would ideally happen, but if something emergent came up, they’d be open to whatever was needed in order for them and their baby to be healthy.
This is why I don’t believe in birth plans (contact me to find out the type of plan I wholeheartedly believe in!). In fact, when clients want me to review their birth plans I always like to reiterate that we shouldn’t be too tied to a plan, and instead should focus on keeping everyone safe and healthy. My job is to focus on birthing people and their family to help facilitate a healthy labor and birth, and yes to also try and stick to their wishes and preferences. I do believe you can prep your mind and body for labor/birth (more on that to come). But ultimately, it’s not up to us to plan a baby’s birth. They’re going to come how and when they want to.
Tell me, do or did you have a birth plan? What are your thoughts on having wishes/preferences instead?