I recently read somewhere that the power of having a birth plan isn’t always in the plan itself but rather learning about and educating yourself on all of your options ahead of time.
Many women don’t know where to begin when it comes to creating a birth plan. It can be really daunting, especially for first-time moms, to ask yourself, “What do I want out of my birth?” For some, the idea of “healthy mom, healthy baby” is really all they can think of, but birth is so much more than just hoping for a healthy outcome.
A 2012 study published in The Journal of Perinatal Education looked specifically at “how women develop their initial birth plan and how changes made to the plan affect [the] overall birth experiences.” This study found that it wasn’t necessarily the individual experiences of a woman’s birth that made the most difference in whether or not she later viewed her experience positively, but it had to do most with “exertion of choice and control.”
In other words, the women in this study felt most influenced by the following:
– Informed Choice
So, what does this all mean for anyone currently working on a birth plan?
It means taking responsibility and becoming informed about your options during birth. If you don’t know what your options are how can you decide what you want or don’t want to experience during your birth? Like a friend of mine who is a childbirth educator says, “knowledge is the eradicator of fear.” Get informed and make your choices known. Also, make it known that you want to STAY informed during your birth.
A plan is just that- a plan, and some might say that any plan is better than none. The study referenced above found that there were several factors such as who attended the birth, where the birth took place and the amount of medical interventions that directly effected a birth plan and at times caused drastic change to it.
It means making connections and communicating with your birth team. Finding and surrounding yourself with people and providers who share similar values about birth will undoubtedly make any necessary change to your birth plan easier to handle. The study mentioned also that “when women are well supported in making decisions and have a great deal of trust in their care providers…women have a more positive recollection of their birth experiences.”
What might this informed choice, flexibility and support look like?
This is what it looks like. This mama had a wonderful and supportive team, stayed informed and welcomed her babies into the world a little differently than she originally imagined, and oh, what a beautiful birth this was.
Afterwards she told me, “I may have originally wanted something different, but I know my doctor made every effort to try and give that to me, so I’m ok.”