The No-Birth Plan Birth Plan
As a doula, I almost always suggest a birth preference conversation and loose plan for parents-to-be during a prenatal meeting. And while I believe this is an effective tool for those who want to learn all about the medical terms and procedures associated with birth, sometimes the birth preferences, when written down and presented as a rigid document, actually pose a challenge post delivery. Imagine things don't go in the way you planned for, disappointment in yourself and distrust in your body are heavy burdens to carry, aren't they?
To be totally frank, the idea of a birth plan is misleading. When it comes to birth, planning can only take you so far. Birth is chaotic, crazy, spontaneous, wild and totally primal. It's hard to totally plan for something like that. Birth is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get, you're just hoping its something sweet.
Now this isn't to say that mom, dad, partner, grandma or whoever is involved, should sit there with their mouths shut. Letting the OB or midwife know your questions and preferences loud and clear is incredibly important. Asking them to comply with your requests is empowering. Having faith in the provider is a big deal, and letting them in on any hopes or fears is a big part of building that relationship.
So, is there a middle ground? How does an expecting family prepare without adding layers of expectation or without over thinking the process?
The No-Plan Mom
I worked with a mom and dad who refused to even participate in a birth preferences conversation. She said she read a little about birth, she knew about cord clamping and that was all she needed. "Not all knowledge is power," she said. She wanted to trust her own instinct.
I greatly respect her perspective, and I should add that this was a home birth with some of the least invasive and most respectful midwives I've ever had the pleasure of working with (shout out to Midwifery Care NYC).
Her birth was exactly as she had hoped for, gentle, quiet, simple and full of love. In this scenario, had there been an unexpected situation, she was in complete trust of herself, her partner and her midwives to handle it.
So, while she didn't want to go the route of planning, she still had hopes and plans. Her plan was to birth instinctively and to trust her midwives.
Another mom and mom-to-be were planners. They planned a hospital birth with a well-regarded NYC OB, they read up on every possible intervention and knew the stats of their chosen hospital. They also decided to go epidural free and planned for a vaginal birth.
Things didn't go their way, for solid medical reasons. Their baby boy was born healthy, but we all know that in times like this, this is not the whole story.
The moms spent the next two postpartum visits debriefing their birth disappointment with me. I should add here that after two talking sessions, I recommended appropriate therapeutic help because there was a lot of processing they needed to do and I am not appropriately trained to help them heal fully.
So the bottom line? There is none. Birth is way too fluid (literally!) to predict or plan for. Be you, be informed and do your best. If that you is a planner, go for it, without grasping for control. If you're a no planner, cool. Just make sure you have chosen a birth team you trust. If you're somewhere in the middle then that's great too, talk to your doula, partner and whoever else to get the comfort and answers you need.
The above two scenarios are just blips on the grand scheme of what could be for planners, non-planners, middle of the road planners and so forth. And as one comedic mom put it, "Birth is important, but it is just the beginning when it comes to raising an awesome, compassionate, non-jerk child!"