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  • Dr. Gina Simone

Birthing plans: Helpful or Harmful

Updated: May 19, 2020

There comes a point during pregnancy when expectant mothers reach into their purses and pull out a sheet of paper with a birthing plan. They have taken hours to carefully develop a plan that contains specific services they want done (or not done) during the labor, delivery, and postpartum process. In most cases, birthing plans come with good intentions. However, some plans are created because of past bad experiences or because “a friend” shared a terrible story about their delivery.

Here is the unbiased truth: The majority of doctors and hospitals are trained to handle most deliveries, including complicated ones. As a result, your birthing plan could keep them from providing the appropriate care.

Now before you get all angry in the comment section, there is nothing wrong with birthing plans; there is nothing wrong with birthing plans (yes, it had to be said twice.) In certain cases, they can be very appropriate. On the other hand, a plan prepared with a lack of information can bring several issues. For example, when you tell your mechanic what’s wrong with your car, do you also tell them how to fix it? This is what happens when a birthing plan is created without a true understanding of the normal labor and delivery process.

Is there a place for birthing plans? Absolutely. So, let’s talk about how to properly construct one.

When creating a proper plan, you should consider three questions:

What type of services can my doctor and hospital provide during my pregnancy?

If you do not change or request a thing, what will your labor and delivery look like? Is it what you had in mind? Make sure you ask! Don’t make assumptions as to what will happen based on others’ experiences.

What do I want (or don’t want) that they currently do?

Once you know the answer to the first question, you can begin to customize your plan. Having a baby is very personal. You may have specific expectations for this event. It is important that you look back at your delivery and remember it as a positive experience. Talk to your doctor about special requests or concerns.

After I customize my birth plan, will my doctor and current hospital produce these results for me?

Know the policies and practice settings of the hospital. Then, figure out if your birthing plan works well with that facility. For example, it would be pretty hard to have a water birth at a hospital that has no bathtubs. Whether you want to bond with your baby right away, or want to decline certain procedures or medications, make sure your provider and hospital can accommodate your wishes.

QUICK NOTES: Your birthing plan should be flexible enough for your doctor to ensure that you and your baby are healthy and safe.

Your birthing plan can be customized to what you want. An open-minded healthcare provider will be willing to sit down with you and discuss those options. A common understanding between you and your doctor will have you on your way to a memorable and safe delivery.

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