Ok..that nursing student was ME! I was 22 years old and my husband and I were expecting our first child. I was in my last semester of nursing school and had already completed my labor and delivery rotation!
The Truth About Birth Plans
I fondly look back at my naivety and laugh inwardly at how little I really knew (despite my nursing training). My husband and I wrote a BIG, LONG BIRTH PLAN. We had very specific plans for our child's birth and I guess we thought that writing those plans down would translate into it actually happening that way….boy were we WRONG!
The birth of our son did not go according to plan…not one step of the way. Almost everything we wrote on our birth plan had to be thrown out the window. In fact…my belief is that my birth plan may have actually jinxed the whole experience! (of course I don't believe in luck…but…it sure seemed jinxed to me!)
Fast forward a year or so and I started working as a labor and delivery nurse. It sounds crazy, but honestly…the longer the birth plan…the worse the whole birth experience seemed to go for couples. I don't know why….life is just IRONIC that way sometimes!
I wanted to share my own personal experience with a birth plan and my experience as a nurse working with couples who had a birth plan. This is the truth about birth plans in my opinion! 🙂
I wish that a birth plan translated into a dreamy, fairy tale experience….but I can't lie to you! It does happen for a lucky few…but for many, many others…it doesn't! Sorry to rain on anyone's parade. 😥
A Realistic Approach to Birth is Essential
If you are getting ready to become a new mother….my wish for you is that you are REALISTIC in your expectations during your labor and delivery. Our bodies don't always cooperate and a completely normal birth experience can turn into an EMERGENCY situation in seconds!
If you take a realistic approach to your birth plan…then I think you will experience less disappointment in the end.
Do Doctor's and Nurses Care About Birth Plans?
I know that there is a feeling that the doctor and nurses don't care about your birth plan. I don't think that is actually true…I always cared about my patient's wishes…but our priority is your safety and well-being and your baby's safety and well-being. We have a job to do…and I think that most people would agree in hindsight…that the birth plan is secondary to a positive outcome for mother and baby!
You Need an Advocate With You
You need an advocate during labor and delivery. I hope that you have someone with you during your entire labor and delivery….a spouse, significant other, parent or friend. I think that everyone who is in the hospital needs an advocate with them at all times. Even more important than a written birth plan for the doctor…is that your support person knows your wishes and can help advocate for those wishes when you are unable to do it yourself!
I was so grateful that my husband was by my side every minute of our ordeal (sorry to refer to the birth of our son as an ordeal…but it really was! :)). There were many moments that I couldn't express my wishes or desires and he was able to do it for me!
Your Birth Plan May Change During Labor
You may have a birth plan that says you are totally against any pain medication/epidural, etc. Guess what…you may change your mind during labor! Your birth plan may say want only your significant other in the room with you…but half way through labor you are screaming out for your mother to be by your side!
It is okay to change your mind…until you have experienced birth…you really do not have a clue what you are agreeing to on a birth plan! Please give yourself some grace…it is okay to change your mind!
There are also the unfortunate circumstances (like I endured) where the birth plan is changed by the doctor out of sheer necessity. These things are out of our control and are usually only done to keep you and your baby safe and healthy!
I hope this post helped put birth plans in perspective for you…my wish would be that every woman have the birth she dreams of…but I know from personal and professional experience that won't happen every time! I want you to be open to the realities that birth is unpredictable sometimes!
If you are working on your birth plan…check out Our Nest. She has a great layout for a Birth Preferences Chart that I think is wonderful and realistic!
Have you used birth plans before? How did it go? Did you feel those plans were respected and followed? I would love to hear your story!!