Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Why not having a birth plan might be the right plan:

New mum, Jen Dobbie shares her experience with labour and birth plans
By Jen Dobbie
Date: April 17 2012
Editor Rating:

Throughout my antenatal classes, the importance of having a birth plan was stressed. Not simply by the Midwife teaching the class, but also by all the friends I spoke to who already have kids. Being an extremely organised person, I was glad to take this advice to heart, mainly because it involved the word ‘plan’. I reckon we are all slightly obsessive compulsive when it comes to organising the details of life at the moment. I see it as a very good thing - we have to be to keep track of everything. So the idea of being able to have some semblance of control over the birth of my firstborn child seemed like a very good idea.

But bear with me a second. For the very reason that I am something of a control freak, my ever-patient husband and I had already spent a large part of the pregnancy convincing me that here was one thing I simply could not control. Producing a child is an awesome act of nature – and a time when nature shows us all that she is very much in charge. Even if we plan to have an elective caesarean, which provides the reassurance of a date and time; the baby might decide to arrive before then.  So, with no small effort, I had come to accept that getting pregnant, being pregnant, and giving birth are the start of a process over which I have no control. And that that is a good thing. And truthfully it was something of a relief, being part of something so much more powerful than my will.

Learning about my options, and thinking about how I wanted the birth to progress; which, if any, pain relief drugs I wished to take during the labour, which medical procedures I was comfortable being used on myself and my child, who I would like with me in the room, etc. was a great thing. I certainly don’t think we should go blindly into labour. But the emphasis on a written birth plan in antenatal classes, in society, and online in forums and apps perhaps encourages us to falsely believe we have a greater element of control during the labour stages and birth than we actually do.

I, who have very happily planned every event in my adult life, had to accept that our daughter was going to be 10 days late. We assumed she would make an appearance at some point following the due date. But she didn’t. So I was induced. I didn’t dilate following the induction – not by even 1 centimetre. Our daughter’s heart rate then bottomed out, so I was rushed to emergency caesarean. I couldn’t have foreseen any of this – and it certainly would not have made it onto my birth plan for the ideal scenario. But her arrival – a perfectly healthy, screaming baby, was still the most amazing experience of my life.

Perhaps birth plans should be designed to help us stop our compulsive planning, and just be. That’s how we’ll learn to find joy in every moment of life, not simply where we have planned for it to be.

Jen Dobbie pictured with her little girl Rosie.  

Jen is a freelance copywriter.

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7 Total Comments
Beverly says: 2012 04 17

I agree that many mothers are really shattered at how the ‘perfect’ birth experience did not go exactly to plan.

Fi says: 2012 04 18

I felt the same when I had my first child. Everyone spoke of a plan, which we put together ahead of the event but it went out the window once I actually went into Labour. There are some things you just can’t control. But everyone is different and it’s whatever makes works best for the individual

Mel says: 2012 04 18

Plans are a useful way to get your thoughts on paper and let you feel like you have an ounce of control over the situation, but previous experience shows that it rarely is followed.  Baby #1 I thought I had it all worked out - hypnobirthing, drug free birth. This time around I haven’t even put one together… Now all I wish for is a quick, problem free labour. Here’s to hoping!

Laura Newbould says: 2012 04 19

I felt compleatly the same when having my little girl, also a Rosie, being able to plan the most terrifying part of the experiance was a great relief to me, although as soon as I walked into the birthing room the plan went compleatley out of the window, I dont think I even looked at it, & everything I didnt want to happen did. No amount of planning can prepare you for what is the most amazing experiance of any mothers life, terrifying yes, but amazing never the less.

William Nomatis says: 2012 04 19

As a man, I really just wanted the best for my wife and our unborn baby. We, too, had a plan (ish) but ours, too went out the window. In the moment of birth, you have to take the advice that you are given by the professionals who are there to look after you. It doesn’t matter how many ante natal classes you go to; it only partly prepares you. Glad to see someone saying you should remember to go with the flow.

Jayne says: 2012 04 20

This is a subject that continues to fascinate me and the majority of woman I speak to each have such unique birthing experiences. Despite needing lots of modern day interventions to help bring my little one into the world (and a couple of really pleasant post-labor complications!) I would still say I had a positive birthing experience. Although my ante-natal classes were reasonably helpful I found what was taught to be quite ‘text book’.  Listening to freinds and colleagues accounts, full of twists and turns (no punn intended!) helped balance my expectations and allow me, to some extent, mentally prepare. I’m sure the ‘experts’ would disagree and say by doing so we are talking ourselves into a negative frame of mind but for me, knowing all the possible outcomes (however daunting) didn’t crush my expectations when they actually happened.

Fiona says: 2012 04 21

Thank you for the very balanced and honest account of the wonders of a one of the most significant part of our life journey for babies,parents and families.
Just to add that nature or spirituality or whatever you call, is something that will be often leave us in wonder and not knowing!! I for one, value the mysteries that life and being human can be. 

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