Birth: to plan or not to plan?
I’m 36 weeks pregnant with my first baby.
At the last appointment we had with my midwife, she said “You can just add that to your birth plan.” My husband Mark and I stared blankly and I felt a little flush of embarrassment. Birth plan? Huh. I wasn’t really planning on doing that….
I mean, it’s not that I hadn’t considered doing a birth plan. After all, I am a planner! I love being organized and I probably have had five lists on the go since I found out I was pregnant. I’ve done detailed research on the cost of cloth vs. disposable diapers. It’s in my nature to plan (it actually drives Mark a little crazy, because he enjoys spontaneity). But it always seemed to me like a birth plan was like an oxymoron. How do you plan for birth? It’s like the one thing in this life you have absolutely NO control over whatsoever. It’s like Christmas that just randomly comes one day a year that you can’t anticipate. It’s a bit mind-blowing for me, the planner/control freak so I just sort of resigned myself to not worrying about it.
However, after a chat with my midwife and several friends, it became apparent that there are certain decisions you might have control over, and if there’s anything that’s particularly important to you- it’s better to make that known beforehand because you’re probably not going to be all that articulate during labour. Unless you have one of these magical pain free labours I’ve read about.
So, I began my research. I scoured the internet for some birth plan templates and I found there are a lot of questions/comments that are just not that important to me. I don’t think I’ll need special music and dimmed lighting… but it is important to me that my baby’s cord is left until the blood pulses completely (assuming the baby is not in jeopardy). And I decided that a detailed birth plan wasn’t suited for me, but I would do a little point form list of things that are important to me. I would compile a birth wish list (like a Christmas list!)
Mark and I walked through all the questions we could find about labour, delivery and baby care in the hospital and made note of everything that was important to us. It was actually a really good exercise for us as it brought up lots of items we hadn’t considered. If it didn’t matter, we didn’t address it. I only ended up with 5 points (if I was in school, I would’ve just failed the birth plan exercise).
And that’s it. You’ll notice that the language is rather soft and that is intentional. Obviously unexpected things can happen during labour and delivery and most importantly, I just want a happy healthy baby. But, if I have a choice, here are a few things I’d like. Part two of this exercise is doing up a baby care wish list, but I want to take it one step at a time.
I think it’s good to be flexible about birth given there are so many variables, but for us it was nice to just talk about and consider all of our options. After all, we’ve never been through this and I’m not very good at making decisions in the moment.
I think the best advice I received was not to call it a “plan”. All hail the birth wish list!