Why I Don’t Have a Birth Plan

posted by Andrea | 06/5/2015
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When I was pregnant with Nora, many of my friends, family members, and fellow bloggers were also pregnant… and most of them had a ‘birth plan’ detailing exactly how they wanted their birth experience to go.

At the time, I figured that since I’m always a big fan of plans (all plans!) that I too should probably consider creating a birth plan. However, I just couldn’t make myself do it. The fact of the matter was I didn’t want a birth plan. 

I know how crazy that must sound coming from a list-making, over-planned person such as myself… but it’s true! Of course I wanted a positive birth experience… and I was very excited and anxious to finally meet our little girl. But I never once felt the need to have a formal (or even informal) ‘birth plan’.

I realize many of you might think I’m crazy, and some of you certainly will not agree with my reasonings — and that’s OK. However since I’ve been asked about my birth plan many times over the past few months (AND since my due date is less than 4 weeks away!!!!!) I figured it was time I shared why I’ve never had a birth plan and why I don’t foresee having any type of written or formalized birth plan with the 3rd baby.

birth plan

1. I know I don’t have full control over the situation.

For me, a plan is a way of having control over a situation so I know what to expect and what to plan on. When it comes to childbirth, I know that I have very little control in that situation (no matter how much planning I do).

I have no control over when this baby is going to come — it could literally be any day now, or I could be waiting a full month yet (maybe even more!)

I have no control over if the baby will be healthy or not — or if he will need extra care from the hospital.

If something does go wrong, I have very little control over how to remedy the situation and will happily rely on my doctors and nurses to “coach” me through (see #3 below).

2. I don’t feel childbirth requires a lot of “extras”.

I don’t know how to say this without potentially offending someone… but the fact of the matter is, I don’t put a lot of value in all the “fluffy extras” of labor and delivery.

In my eyes, my job is to get to the hospital, try to stay somewhat relaxed, and push my baby out ASAP. 

I don’t need special music or candles or massages. I don’t need a pool or a bathtub or bouncing balls or any other contraptions. I don’t need special foods or drinks. I won’t be posting minute-by-minute updates on Facebook or Twitter. I don’t want anyone taking pictures or videos. I certainly don’t need 17 family members watching and/or waiting. And I don’t need a special “push prize” for doing the only thing that I came to the hospital to do… push that baby out.

All I need is a bed, a glass of water, Dave, my doctors and nurses, and maybe a cold washcloth for my head.

3. I fully trust my doctors and nurses to do what’s best for me.

I honestly think there is something very wrong with our society today that so many completely untrained individuals try to “play doctor” by remedying their own health issues instead of just trusting their doctors and nurses to DO THEIR JOBS!

They are highly trained professionals who know what they are doing… and aside from a few nut jobs you see on the news, they really do care (especially the nurses).

My sister is a labor and delivery nurse at the hospital I will be delivering my baby at, and it is simply amazing to see and hear (anonymous) stories about what she does every day. She works 12+ hours in a row and never, ever stops caring about her patients. She has even gone in at 3:00 in the morning (on her day off) to help deliver a baby via a special request from a patient who specifically wanted HER to be the nurse.

I know that’s just one person and one nurse (and I might be slightly biased since she’s my sister) but… I fully trust all my doctors and nurses and feel very confident they will do what’s best for me and for my baby. For this reason, my “birth plan” is to do what they tell me to do, when they tell me to do it, how they tell me to do it… and I’m going to keep doing it until my baby is born!

I wouldn’t try to tell my plumber or my roofers or my car mechanic how to do their jobs… so why should I try to tell my doctors how they should do theirs (especially when there are human lives on the line and they are much more trained than I am).

4. I truly do not care how my babies come into the world.

I know many women are dead set on either using pain meds or not using pain meds. Some women know that they want a c-section while others would literally do anything and everything to avoid that situation.

Some women know they want to have their babies at home, while others would never consider anything but a hospital birth. Some women want a doctor, others want a midwife or a doula or their friend or husband to deliver the baby.

For me… I truly just don’t care! 

I will say it would totally freak me out if I ended up having my baby at home or in the car (or anywhere but the hospital) but other than that, I do not care how my baby comes into this world.

Both my previous labors were very quick so I didn’t have time for an epidural… but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t get one this time around if things don’t go as fast or if I feel more pain.

I’d rather not have a c-section (mainly because I’ve heard that recovery is harder), but if my doctors say I need one for any reason at all, I won’t be putting up a fight.

I prefer just staying put in my hospital bed, but if the nurses want me to try something else, go for a walk, take a shower, etc. to get labor moving, I’ll try it.

For me, the fact that I have no set-in-stone plan allows me to stay flexible and try to ‘go with the flow’ since I know I don’t really have full control over the situation in the first place (see #1 above).

Like I mentioned above: My job is to get to the hospital, try to stay somewhat relaxed, and push my baby out ASAP. 

I guess that is my version of a super simplified ‘birth plan’ 🙂

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I realize not everyone will agree with this post — and many of you probably think I’m crazy for not having any type of birth plan. However this is what worked for me with the past 2 babies and I’m hoping it works again in another few weeks.

I know many people say things like “as long as they are healthy…” but to be honest, even if he isn’t healthy or has some medical conditions or requires extensive amounts of treatment, he will still be mine and I will still love him with every ounce of my being.

So basically, as long as he ends up alive and outside my body at some point in the near future, I will be happy.

Without getting into too much of a “debate” I’d love to know if you create a formalized birth plan or not — and if your birth plans have helped your labor or not.

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89 comments

  1. Maggie

    07/29/2016

    I just googled “when you don’t want a birth plan” and found this article, and I’m so happy I did. I have been spending the last 8 1/2 months planning for my homebirth which now will not happen because my baby is breech and my midwife will not perform an at-home breech birth. I have already surrendered to the possibility that I will be having a C-section, and even though I’m being encouraged to formulate a new plan by my Doula and midwife I just feel that one is not necessary any longer. I called the hospital today to get some answers on how to proceed and even they seemed perplexed by my inquiry. So I have no doctor, no nurse, no plan, no idea when my child wants to come to this earth and that’s just the way it is. Wish me luck 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — well I’m so glad my post popped up for you 🙂

    Congrats on the soon-to-be-new baby. How exciting! Sorry to hear things aren’t going as planned, but I will tell you that I had 3 AMAZING hospital deliveries. The Drs. and nurses were fabulous, the facilities were so great, even the food was delicious in my opinion 🙂

    I’m sure it’s unnerving not having a plan, but I just know you’ll be in great hands! Best of luck to you Maggie! Enjoy that new baby 🙂

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  2. 6 Things Labor Taught Me

    03/13/2016

    […] though you have to give up control during labor, you still need to advocate for yourself and your baby. If there’s something you’re not […]

  3. Babs

    06/11/2015

    A long time follower of your blog….It still remains candid, fun and insightful! It’s very refreshing for a young person to express such practical, down to earth thoughts and ideas! You and Dave are exceptional people and it;s fun to follow along to see your lists, plans and goals succeed,as well as how you handle the more difficult challenges.
    You are right about the “birth plan”. All of the foo foo fluff and puff is just that. You are fully equipped and prepared with all you need to have a baby.The Divine plan for all things is still the best one…and you seem to have it just right. Trust your doctors and nurses and obey what they say.This is a truly personal experience for a husband and wife, moment to moment pictures are surely not needed on social media.After the baby arrives, then it’s time to celebrate and share! Your followers are looking forward to doing just THAT! After all, in a virtual world, we want to see our new “grand one”! Best to you!

    1

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much! I really appreciate your kind words and yes, we are ALL excited to introduce the new babe to my blog world 🙂

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  4. Leeback

    06/09/2015

    I agree with you. For my second, I was really invested in everything natural, no interventions. I was a fool. I had a huge baby, and we were both hurt. I wish I had listened.

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  5. Shannon

    06/08/2015

    I absolutely agree with all your points! When I had my 2 kids and was asked if I wanted to do a birth plan, I said my plan was to get to the hospital and they could take it from there. Why would I want to dictate to people who have had years of training and experience how it should go?!?!?

    Good luck with #3!

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  6. MrsD

    06/08/2015

    As a L&D nurse…my opinion on the birth plans is that they are a push-back. For years, doctors and nurses took advantage of the fact that patients believed that the professionals always knew best and had your best interests at heart. That led to women being drugged to the point where they didn’t even remember the delivery, healthy babies whisked away for hours in the nursery, horrific forceps deliveries, and many many many unnecessary c-sections. I’ve personally seen the last two…the others were more before my time. Women have begun to wake up to the fact that doctors don’t always take the whole person or whole picture into account. I’ve seen awful deliveries because the doctor was tired and ready to go home. (I’ve worked with lots of awesome docs too!)
    Thankfully, I feel like the push back of so many women trying to take back their bodies and their delivery have made healthcare perk up a bit. They realize women aren’t going into this as uneducated as they did for a few generations. The birth plans I saw years ago as a nurse were often unrealistic and too rigid in my opinion. But, I felt like they came from a place of understandable mistrust of us! We were the ones who caused many problems in the first place! Lately, I’ve noticed the rigidity in birth plans becoming looser…and the hospitals I’ve worked at becoming a bit more natural and making an effort to enable bonding and avoid csections. It’s great! In my opinion, we are becoming more of what we should of been all along. There to support women in one of the most stressful, vulnerable, important events of their lives, while keeping mama and baby safe!!
    I love your honesty Andrea! I can’t wait to “meet” your newest addition:)

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  7. Pamela

    06/07/2015

    I didn’t have a birth plan either! Well, my only plan was to get pain relief if I needed it – I was having my first baby and just didn’t know how my body would respond. So I figured if the pain got bad I’d want an epidural. I did end up getting the epidural which made me happy. I was also nervous about the recovery and the possibility of birth injuries, like tearing, etc. Like you, I figured that the doctors would know what to do to either minimize the possibility or fix it if something did happen. I did need some stitches but again – since the doctor knew what she was doing, that worked out ok 🙂 I just didn’t have the time or inclination to “research” via Google and figured I’d trust those who’d gone to school for this and who have done it hundreds/thousands of times. I didn’t want to feel like I had to “fight” my care providers for something that didn’t matter to me. Plus, I view the birth as the starting gun of an 18+ year marathon, not really an event in and of itself. I just wanted to leave the hospital in one piece with my baby in one piece as well! I seriously wasn’t even worried about having a C section! At one point, there was an issue with my labor, and I asked the nurse what “worst case” scenario was – in hushed tones she said “well, you might need to have a C section” and I was like, “oh, ok!! That’s fine then!” because I seriously didn’t care. There were some things in the hospital that weren’t awesome (don’t EVEN get me started on the battle ax of a Lactation Consultant I had!!) but it was a short amount of time in the grand scheme of things. And hey – I got to go home with a baby!! Woo hooo!

    I was also *constantly* grateful for the access to medical care I had. I knew that if something went bad, they’d most likely be able to prevent a bad outcome or fix it if possible. Many, many women around the world don’t have that option and deal with the consequences every day – either birth injuries (fistula and such) or dead babies, babies with brain damage, etc. I didn’t take my access to medical care for granted!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, I think you are exactly right. We’ve come a long way from when my Grandma was drugged with Ether and not allowed to hold her baby for almost 2 days (while my Grandpa wasn’t even allowed in the room with my grandma).

    I certainly wouldn’t want that for my experience — but at the same time, I think doctors and medical practice in general is a lot more “family friendly” than it once was (praise the Lord) so for me, in this day and age, it makes sense for me to trust my Doctors and nurses to know what’s best for me. However, this certainly wasn’t always the way things were. Thanks for pointing that out (I still cringe when I hear my grandma tell her labor and delivery stories!)

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  8. Linda

    06/06/2015

    I guess your plan is to trust the doctors. So, its sort of a plan. 😀 I am a doula and I work on birth plans with my clients. But I stress that we know birth usually doesn’t go as planned. We work towards a plan for the best birth you can think of and we work toward it if possible. We talk about interventions, routine procedures that are not always best for mom and baby and about empowering the parents to view the birth as their birth. This way, they can research all the intervention and routine care and make informed evidence based decisions for their baby. Its a tool and as most tools we use what we need and leave what we don’t.

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  9. Erin S.

    06/06/2015

    No birth plans with my babies. I agree that you have so little control, I just didn’t see the point. My only “plan” was for an epidural, which I got. Thank you, God, for anesthesiologists, and their fantastic drugs.

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  10. Holly

    06/06/2015

    I like the idea of a relaxed birth plan. I was mostly the same. My plan was, have our daughter at home in a water pool with my husband there. Back up plan was if something looks like it’s going wrong, we’re going to the hospital 10 min away. And if our daughter needed to be taken away from me for any reason, husband would go with her and support person stayed with me. We had her at home, but she needed to go into the next room to go on oxygen as she wasn’t breathing when she came out. So we had a simple ‘plan for the worst and hope for the best’, and it worked.

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  11. Amy

    06/06/2015

    Yes, I did have a birth plan, and I’m SO thankful. We’d done the Bradley classes. We knew the slippery slope effect of some interventions, and going into childbirth completely unprepared seemed naive. We also learned about IMPORTANT intervention AND trusted our awesome doctor (who used the Bradley method with his wife, too). Actually, our doc ASKED us about our birth plan, encouraged us to write one up, and told us to make sure we take it with us because it doesn’t matter so much that he knows it, but that the nurses understand what we want to try to do.

    My labors (except for the 3rd of 6) went NOTHING like I wanted or expected. My water broke and nothing happened for 12-15 hours for 5 different babies. What are the odds?! Then the torturous back labor without the cushion of the bag of waters… oy. Baby 18-24 hours later. It was HARD.

    Our birth plan was important because it made US think through things. We didn’t want the fluff, either, but we did want to be left alone to do what a woman’s body has done for thousands of years without “helpful” nurses offering drugs and putting me through painful, unnecessary cervical checks every hour. We didn’t want to get in the way of any life-saving or even “medically necessary” interventions that were NEEDED, but what is offered isn’t always needed. It’s just routine.

    Maybe we birthed at smaller hospitals where a birth plan is viewed differently, but every staff member seemed glad we had one and was happy that we took the time to communicate what we hoped would happen, even when that hope was 24 hours of misery…

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  12. Ivy Miller

    06/06/2015

    My first was an emergency c section at 32 weeks… No control or plan what so ever, outcome was not good.
    #2 I tired to go VBAC again things weren’t going well and I actually insisted on a c section when baby was in trouble to the point of getting up and saying I wasn’t going to lose another baby that I would go to another hospital if they didn’t get her out like NOW.
    #3 Scheduled c section !
    #4 Scheduled c section !

    I am also a planner and thought I could plan every last detail haha didn’t work ! I truly enjoyed having the scheduled c sections.

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  13. Teresa

    06/06/2015

    You definitely have the right attitude! I’m a nurse and thought I wanted to be an OB nurse but decided that I probably couldn’t deal with all the Mothers to be . I’ve always told my friends the best thing to do is just relax and realize that no matter what YOU do or don’t do, the baby will be born. If you get in that mind set, things go a lot smoother!!

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  14. Jennifer

    06/06/2015

    I’m due at the end of July and have also been puzzled by the whole ‘birth plan’ notion.

    I think I have a few certain preferences, e.g. that I want my husband there! And I am hopefully going to be at a birth centre, where they prioritise doing what the mother wants, which I am happy about. However, I think what I mainly feel is that in a lot of areas I won’t know what I want until the situation arises. In our prenatal classes they have us think about what sorts of pain relief we want, what sorts of snacks or drinks we might want to bring, how we want our partners to help, and I think all that education is good, but until I’m actually in the situation I figure I won’t know exactly what will feel good or be helpful. And then, I will say what I want (‘I want the lemonade!’) – or I will go with the advice of the midwife who says ‘Try this.’

    Perhaps, as you say, this already is a birth plan, but I don’t think it’s as formal or complete as what people mean by a birth plan.

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  15. Karyn

    06/06/2015

    Yeah – I’m one of those weird different ones that is terrified of all that happens at hospitals and hates any kind of intervention from anyone else. I was blessed to deliver at home 4 times very peacefully with a midwife but I fought hard at the beginning by gaining all the knowledge I could as I knew that often women are manipulated and one intervention leads to the next. I appreciate doctors and nurses but I believe we should be responsible for our own health and don’t need to be “trained” how to do it. Health care would be a lot simpler and cheaper if people did this – for the record my 5 children (one adopted) have never been to a hospital or nurse or doctor anywhere and if they get a cold they go to bed for a day with echinacea tea or something and their body helps them recover. If they break an arm or leg they will certainly need a doctor but they don’t need all the medication that is usually given. So yes – this is one area where we disagree – but I think your relaxed approach to birth is awesome – best way to go! – and some people are scared of home births so then hospital is better! Many blessings with your birth and precious boy!! 🙂 Thanks for a great blog!

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  16. Lisa Morosky

    06/05/2015

    I think you have more of a plan than you realize! You’ve chosen your care providers (and, really, I feel like that is the very best thing you can do when having a baby anyways, choosing people and facilities whose experience and expertise you trust – that’s your best bet at an “ideal” outcome). You know all kinds of things you don’t care about. Sounds like a plan to me! 😉

    I had my son at home under the care of a midwife (and I received co-care from an OB during pregnancy too). That decision requires a lot of planning. So I can’t relate to the easy-breezy mentality. But that’s OK! We’re all entitled to enter this situation however we like. And girl, if there’s one thing I admire about you it’s your ability to stand firmly in your convictions while gracefully allowing others to stand firmly in theirs. You’re a breath of fresh air in the blogosphere.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Wow — that’s potentially the nicest compliment I’ve ever gotten about my writing style! Thanks Lisa!
    I definitely love sharing about what I do and why I do it — but at the same time, I NEVER ever expect everyone else to want to do it my way, so I’m glad that is coming through in my writing 🙂

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  17. Melissa D.

    06/05/2015

    The only two things that I was hoping to implement on my birth plan where things that I had some control over. Number one was that I didn’t want anyone to tell me the gender, I wanted to see for myself. Number two, I wanted to cut the cord. Had neither of these worked out that would have been perfectly fine, but these were two things I was hoping to do with the birth of my third and last child. I agree that there is so much unpredictability in childbirth that a lengthy birth plan might be disappointing if not able to be implemented. Best wishes to all of you as you await the arrival of baby #3!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Oh that’s cool that you got to see the gender for yourself — I wouldn’t have even thought of doing something like that. Probably because I can hardly even stand to wait until the 20 week ultrasound to find out 🙂

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  18. Pixie508

    06/05/2015

    Last time I had an emergency c-section.

    Our birth plan this time “looked” like this:
    1. attempt VBAC
    2. listen to doctors, after-all, they went to medical school and we didn’t
    3. If VBAC isn’t working, have a c-section.

    About 12hrs after my water broke, the OB (my OB has been in Boston for both of my deliveries, visiting her sister. Both kids were delivered by her partners) came in, I wasn’t progressing, and there were the beginning signs of fetal distress. He recommended I just do the repeat c-section (w/ baby 1, I didn’t really get an option. This time, no one was crashing, so they would have let me go longer if I had refused). My husband and I took about 3min to discuss it alone, and deep down, we knew that the doctor was right, and we didn’t want a repeat performance of the craziness that ensued bringing baby #1 into this world. So about 40min later baby #2 was brought into this world via c-section:)

    I’m with you – I chose my OB because I completely trust her. I used to work for the hospital I delivered at before kids, so I also know the docs who delivered both of my kids, and trust them too. I have to assume that they have the best interests of my child and me in mind. In trusting them, I trusted that they would help us to make the best decisions for both a healthy baby and a healthy me. I know that they did right by our family through both of my deliveries. There are so many variables when it comes to giving birth that the best plan is to just take it as it comes, and to find a doctor and hospital that you trust to help guide you as issues arise (if issues arise).

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  19. leslie

    06/05/2015

    Amen, Amen and AMEN!!! What a great and honest post!! Many Blessings to you and your sweet family!!

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  20. Alison

    06/05/2015

    I think birth plans are more common practice in the low- intervention crowd. My midwives always expected one at the birth center I used, though my plan got briefer with each delivery. I certainly trusted my midwives, but in delivery I was extremely vulnerable. It was good for the members of my team to know the outcome I was hoping for, and interventions that were or were not welcome. Any good plan leaves provisions for extenuating circumstances, and birth is extremely personal.

    Andrea, I wish you the best of luck for another quick and complication- free deliver y for your new little blessing!

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  21. Katie

    06/05/2015

    As a former labor and delivery nurse and now a pediatric nurse, I LOVE this!! We would joke about how patients with birth plans always seemed to end up having a c-section. 🙂 It just seemed that their plans would never work out. With your attitude, I know your nurses will love you!

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  22. JoDi

    06/05/2015

    Seriously? A birth plan? What an utterly weird concept. People have been having babies for thousands of years, but now they suddenly can’t do it without “birth plan”? This must be a generational thing because I never heard of such a thing when I was pregnant 25 years ago or even earlier when I was growing up and my mom and all her friends and our family members were having babies. I think it’s incredible how people can suddenly decide that something that didn’t exist a couple of decades ago is now a “necessity” to make others feel guilty about. O.o

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    lyssl Reply:

    From what I understand, the reason for a written birth plan is mainly to help avoid unnecessary or unwanted interventions. Modern medicine saves lives, but is often unnecessary. Some moms wish to do things as natural as possible, but sadly, that isn’t the norm in many hospitals today.
    Some may want to refuse “routine” things such as the vitamin k shot. Or to delay clamping the cord. Or for the baby to be weighed and measured in the room, if that’s not the norm for that hospital. Having those type of things in writing so the doctor/nurses know it ahead of time can be helpful.

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  23. Marsha

    06/05/2015

    I totally agree!! We are not in control, God is. I didn’t have a birth plan either. I had somewhat planned on an epidural, but that’s not what happened!! Surprise. I was glad afterwards that I didn’t have one. I wish you the best outcome with this birth.

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  24. MomofTwoPreciousGirls

    06/05/2015

    When I asked my ob about a birth plan he said we will discuss everything you want but the idea of a formal plan can make the delivery more stressful on the mother. He said he has seen women with these elaborate written plans that they made the doctors swear by (like no drugs) but while things are happening they change their mind, but the doctors are bound by the plan (same reason they don’t let you decide to tie your tubes right after birth). There should be open communication about all the things that are important to the parents and a full discussion of the things that may happen because of complications. This gives the mother the freedom to change her mind and the doctor the ability to serve mom and baby in the safest way.

    Both my deliveries went wonderfully. I was just fine getting the drugs and just having a calm time. With my second, I had a toddler that was sleeping in my bed at night, working full time (I sat through a conference call during my early labor!) so when I got to hospital at 10:30 pm and the doc asked if I wanted to walk around I said no way. Give me my epidural so I can actually get some sleep for the first time in 2 years!!

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