Monday, January 28, 2019

Does a Birth Plan Set You Up for Disappointment?

You just found out you are expecting. You have prepared and spent a lot of time deciding on your care provider, birth place, whether to hire a doula, and who you want at your birth. And more than likely you have thought of writing a birth plan. While considering a birth plan, have you heard "You are only setting yourself up for disappointment when things do not go the way you planned." Does this mean you should not write one?
I suggest looking at this in a different way. Do we tell women not to plan their dream wedding in case their groom does not show up? Do we tell women not to apply for a college in case they may not get in? When we look at it in this light, it sounds ludicrous to tell people to never plan for anything simply because there is a chance the plans may not go just as we hoped.
Birth is unpredictable, like anything in life. But planning for it ensures that you have a care provider and birth place that supports the type of birth you hope for. Planning helps ensure you know all of your options and that you made choices based on knowing all risks and benefits. And that if things do not go as planned, you were apart of the choices that affected your birth. And those choices were the best for your unique situation.
Planning also helps you be as proactive as possible. For example, if you know you really do not want to be induced, you may learn instances in which women do face induction: pre-eclampsia, choleostasis, large baby due to gestational diabetes, or because a care provider does not support you going past 41 weeks. Knowing this information may help you seek out nutritional advice on how to prevent medical conditions that require induction. And discussing your birth plan with your care provider may help you learn that your birth provider induces simply because of gestational age, which may lead you to look for a care provider who does.
As a doula, I explain to clients the importance of planning. The process helps you discover how you want to feel during your birth. It helps you discover how important every aspect of birth is and even if you cannot get certain things on your birth plan, there are ways to accommodate for those losses.
So what if you do plan a certain birth, you find a care provider who completely supports what you want, and you still end up with a birth that was not what you envisioned? Just like anything in your life, we process it. Disappointment is part of life, it is inescapable. But there are resources to help you get through this unique loss. It could be as simple as talking to a friend or family member who was in the same situation or maybe you will need more help. There are peer groups, like ICAN, professionals who are trained to deal with PTSD surrounding birth, and classes specifically meant for helping women process their births. It is quite normal to be happy to finally have your baby in your arms but upset how your birth went. This does not make you a bad mother, it makes you human. As someone who has seen a variety of births, who has supported many families in this process, fear of disappointment does not justify not creating a plan. You deserve to feel respected and supported during your birth and planning helps you get what you deserve.

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