No One Cares About Your Birth Plan

Lauren Flynn Kelly

pregnancy woman in hospitalWhen you're pregnant, there are a lot of things you think you're supposed to do. One of these, thanks to the many books and websites out there that both help and scare you, is to make a birth plan. What to Expect When You're Expecting advises you to not only discuss such a plan with your doctor and come up with a written agreement, but to make sure it becomes part of your chart and to bring several copies with you to the delivery room.

I have news for you. No one gives a damn about your birth plan.

For the first six months or so of my pregnancy, I remember people asking me about my birth plan. Not having a clue about this so-called agreement, I would say I was having my baby in a hospital where a doctor I very much like practices and that's all I know. I figured that was all I needed to know at the time.

But as I started to get deeper into pregnancy books and read about what would actually happen in the delivery room, I got curious about the birth plan, so I downloaded one of those checklists from the Internet to share with my husband.

The choices were endless: external vs. internal fetal monitoring, acupuncture vs. reflexology for pain management, squatting bar vs. birthing stool, and so on. Were all of these options really available to us? Was delivery really an a la carte service?

Not quite. When I printed the thing out and showed it to one of the doctors in my OB/GYNn's practice, she basically laughed in my face. She saw the six-page document and told me to tear it up. Why? Because you can't plan your baby's birth. You can dim the lights and play music (if they'll let you), but your baby is going to decide when and where and how she comes out.

Curious if this is how other health professionals felt, I came across a heavily viewed post in which a maternity ward nurse admitted that her colleagues laugh every time they see a patient waving that document around. The other commenters were horrified. I was dismayed, but certainly not shocked. If you think about how many times you've spent hours in a busy waiting room or how many calls you've made about missing blood work or sonogram results or how many stacks of blue folders are sitting on top of that nurses' station, do you think anyone actually has the time to read through and commit to your precious birth plan?

Ultimately, I did not come up with a written or verbal birth plan. My baby came early, so I didn't even get to discuss my wishes with my doctor beforehand, and I wouldn't have changed a thing. We were first-time parents just flying blind and that only added to the excitement of the labor experience instead of making us anxious. Plus, we got dim lights and music privileges without having to issue a memorandum to anyone.

That approach may not work for everyone, and I hope for the sake of the women who do want to be more prepared that their doc respects the plan. You just have to accept that the plan can always change.

Is your doc open to a birth plan? Would it bother you if she's not?

Image via cantaloupe99/Flickr

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