Photo: Love Roots Photography
It will not surprise you to learn that I love planning. Outranked only by spontaneous napping and eating figs, planning is how I get my jollies most days of the week. As a stage manager, I have loved calling the shots, planning the transitions perfectly, and quickly taking control when things start heading off track. Stage managers love consistency, plans, and consistency (and licorice).
So you might rightly feel astonished to learn that I'm not a huge fan of birth plans.
For this, I refer to my dear departed friend Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was well known for the statement, "Plans are nothing; planning is everything." I don't otherwise have strong feelings about Dwight, but in this instance I am on board. Birth is dynamic. It is impossible to control, even by the most controlling of women, doctors, doulas, and stage managers. Birth, my friends, is like the weather.
While I believe that walking into a birth with a play-by-play, line-by-line plan isn't helpful, I believe the act of planning for birth is crucial. Imagine first that you are planning a wedding. You first select the location, the people who are important participants, the ceremony, the dress, the cake, the favors, and the officiant. Each of these is selected based on your values.
Wedding locations (and associated values):
Public park with free parking, restrooms, and negligible fee for area rental (values: cost-savings, accessibility, nature)
Five star hotel with valet parking, wedding planner, and "free" bridal suite (values: luxury, reliability, contingency-averse)
Write out your "dream birth" and include the who/what/when. Then assign values as follows. For instance:
"I would like to give birth at home because I value privacy/intimacy/cost-savings"
"I would like to give birth in a birth center because I value security/access to medical equipment/planning for all contingencies."
Work with your provider, your doula, your partner, and describe not only the hopes you have for your birth, but the values you attribute to those "plans." Knowing that things will not follow a step-by-step outline, your birth support team will have the ability to make suggestions and/or decisions that are more in line with your values. And this will result in the best possible birth outcome.
No one can control the weather, but knowing that you value safety over a rigid plan will allow your "wedding planner" (birth partner/doula) to divert you to an interior space if a storm threatens your beach-wedding, or to rally the coast guard and proceed under their watchful eye.
I'm one of those people who loves making your life easier (and I believe in you). I am an experienced registered prenatal yoga teacher and a lactation educator.
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