Writing a birth plan is a wonderful way to begin to educate yourself about labor and the process of giving birth. But it is important to remember that your birth plan is not like a fast food menu. You can’t just say that you want to induce labor with nipple stimulation, manage your contractions in a Jacuzzi, give birth while doing squats and have Brad Pitt cut the umbilical cord…and have all your dreams come true!
No matter how careful you are to follow your birth plan, birth is unpredictable and there is always the X-Factor. You may have suffered through 35 hours of natural labor only to find out in the 36th that your baby is struggling to breathe and you need to be rushed into an emergency C-section.
Following is a list of tips for birth planning that will help you get as close to your goals as possible without creating unrealistic expectations.
One of the most important lessons you can glean from birth planning is simply to become educated about birth. The practice of giving birth is greatly influenced by the culture in which we live and it is important to understand what all your options are, as well as what the standard practices are where you reside. Childbirth classes, books, magazine articles and online birth plan creators are a good place to get started.
Seek a Like-Minded Practitioner
As early as possible in your pregnancy, you will want to begin to search for a practitioner that shares your view of labor and birth. For example, if you are interested in having an epidural and other pain control medications, you will probably want to enlist the services of an obstetrician at a nearby hospital. On the other hand, if you would prefer to attempt natural childbirth and want to experience a labor where you can eat, drink and move around freely, a midwife may be a more compatible caregiver for you.
Expect the unexpected
No matter how much time you spent doing vagina exercises and envisioning your perfect birth, when true labor comes on, you may find yourself cursing your childbirth educators and wishing you could smack them upside the head with a ginormous birth ball. Don’t despair! This is real life and even if you end up ordering a Stadol cocktail on the rocks when you had planned to Birth from Within, you are not a failure. Accept your birth for what it is and be proud that you are capable of bringing another precious human being into this amazing world.