The One About A Birth Plan
I briefly mentioned it here, but I’m not planning on writing a birth plan. I also mentioned way back when that our hospital gives us a form to fill out to act as a birth plan, but I just learned that even that is not the case anymore, so we’re going no paper, no plan.
There are tons of great reasons TO write a birth plan, and I’m sure lots of you can share the reasons why you wrote one in the comments if you’d like. But, there’s also a ton of great reasons not to. Let me be clear that I am in no way judging anyone who writes a birth plan. It’s just something that is not for me, which is actually kind of shocking considering how Type A I normally am, haha. Anyway, I’m not writing one for several different reasons:
1) I love my OB/GYN and totally trust her decisions. We have an amazing relationship and we have both verbalized that we have the exact same goal: healthy baby, healthy mama. I don’t care how that has to happen.
2) B is a pharmacist and as such has a lot of healthcare experience and education. If I have a question about a pain reliever offered to me or a vaccination/drug/etc they may want to give our baby, I know he can answer with credible knowledge. Not only that, but he works for the same healthcare system through which I’ll be delivering and he used to work at the same hospital. So I feel totally comfortable in that setting, knowing that I’ll be surrounded by healthcare professionals that I really trust.
3) Our hospital and my doctor have very mom-and-baby-friendly policies. We took our tour a few weeks ago and I was pleasantly surprised to learn the following:
–My doctor hasn’t done an episiotomy in 20 years. Seriously, TWENTY years. And the reason is the same reason you hear for specifying that in a birth plan: because naturally tearing is better for healing, and episiotomies are usually a largely unnecessary intervention.
–My doctor also doesn’t do any unnecessary cervical checks prior to labor and delivery. This means that I will not be checked at my doctor’s office when I go for weekly appointments (starting at 36 weeks). The reason is also mom/baby-friendly: because frequent cervical checks have been known to increase the likelihood of infection. I’ll be checked at the hospital during labor, of course, but not before then.
–Our hospital tries to practice what I think are known as “gentle” c-sections. This means that not only does baby stay with you after the c-section instead of being sent to the nursery until you are in recovery, but they try to get baby skin-to-skin with you right after the section (barring any medical emergencies you or baby may be experiencing, of course). Overall, they try to give you the same benefits as a vaginal birth, even if you have a c-section.
–In terms of laboring, pretty much anything goes. They have a Jacuzzi tub available for use, we can use aromatherapy or listen to music if we want, I can labor in whatever position I want, I can use a birthing ball, etc. Essentially, my doctor said, “You can pretty much do whatever you want.” I also confirmed this with the nurse during our hospital tour. I haven’t asked about snacking during labor, but I’m just opting to pack along honey sticks & energy chews to use, and I plan on taking full advantage of the slushies they offer too (hello, slushies?! YUM!). We will also have snacks packed along for B. Obviously, I’m in a hospital, so I will have an IV, but they do hep locks so I don’t have to be hooked up unless I need to be.
–Breastfeeding is a top priority for our hospital. They have a 24 hour lactation consultant on-staff and are committed to getting mom and baby going in the right direction almost immediately, whether the birth is vaginal or via c-section.
–Things like allowing time for bonding before giving baby any tests, drops or medications, quickly establishing breastfeeding, etc. are all standard procedure. We can also opt to leave the hospital within 24 hours (instead of the normal 2 days for a vaginal birth) if both mom and baby check out ok, and it won’t be considered “leaving against medical advice.” For the record, we’re not planning on leaving early—we’d like to take advantage of all the help we can get in a 2-4 day stay!
4) My doctor specifically told me I didn’t need to write a birth plan. This reason could be controversial, I guess, but I asked my doctor if I needed to write one and she didn’t hesitate in telling me no. She then launched into many different reasons why, which included the aforementioned “You can pretty much do whatever you want,” as well as that in her experience, birth plans tend to “jinx” the process. Now I know all of the birth plan proponents out there are probably out of your gourd at that statement, but I happen to agree with my OB. I just feel like if you go into childbirth expecting a certain experience, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. I am going in with zero expectations about what the process will be like because I have no experience whatsoever, so there’s little chance for me to be disappointed. I would like to avoid a c-section if at all possible, but I’m even ok with that if it’s what’s best for us, especially considering how my hospital treats c-sections. And just for the record, my OB also noted that birth plans definitely had their time and place and probably still do in areas where doctors and health systems are not as up on being baby/mama friendly. But now, as noted above, a lot of the stuff you see written on birth plans is essentially standard procedure, at least in my area.
5) I’m looking to have a baby, not a birth experience. I debated even writing about this one, but I feel I have to include it because FOR ME it’s true, and I promised you guys I would try to write more honestly about my thoughts and feelings on all this stuff. Basically it comes down to this:
I am not one of those women who is looking to “experience raw womanhood” or go au naturel because “women have been doing it for thousands of years.” There is NOTHING wrong with looking for a very specific birth experience, if that’s you. It’s just not who I am.
What I AM looking to do is to go into this whole thing with a “let’s see how it goes” attitude. Maybe I’ll want an epidural, maybe I won’t. But I’m not looking to have a magical experience. Because, frankly, it’s childbirth, and although YES, it’s an amazing process, it’s uh, kind of a gross process too. Does that make me a bad mother for saying that? Seriously though, childbirth is kind of messy and it’s really hard for me to think of that as magical. A water birth would never be for me because all I can think about is that you’re sitting in a pool of gunk. But really, I just want to have a baby. And to have that baby be healthy. And for me to end up healthy as well. That’s it. Because when it comes down to it, I really believe that it’s not about what MY experience is anymore anyway. It’s about this other little person who is coming into the world. So I honestly, really, truly don’t care what MY experience is as long as little baby boy is born healthy and we get to take him home. Because sadly, that’s still a reality in this world—people have babies everyday and don’t get to take them home. So no, I don’t want a birth experience—I want a healthy baby. Period.
Please know that I’m not saying that those of you who ARE looking for a birth experience aren’t ALSO looking for a healthy baby. They’re not mutually exclusive. I’m only pointing out that the “birth experience” side of things isn’t what I’m looking for. If you’re looking for both, that is OK! I’m not, though.
I’m also saying that I don’t really know what to expect, so I don’t know how I’ll feel about the process. Heck, maybe I WILL feel differently after I go through the process. And that’s kind of the whole point anyway, right? I have no clue, so I really can’t say how I’ll feel after the fact. But I know that for now, my whole focus is on the part AFTER labor and delivery…the part where we get to meet our little boy! However I have to get there, I just want to GET THERE.
So, there you have it. The “No Paper, No Plan” Plan. What are your thoughts on birth plans? Did you write one?