I dutifully read all about getting prepared for childbirth during my first pregnancy, thanks to online resources and books for moms-to-be. I wanted to be as ready as possible.
But I ended up drawing the line when it came to writing out a birth plan. This plan is meant to help expectant mothers ensure that their childbirth experience goes smoothly. How helpful is it, though, and do you really need one? I didn’t think so, and I don’t regret not doing one.
What Goes in a Birth Plan?
You can write out detailed requests for the kind of environment you’d like in the hospital room, such as having the lights dimmed or having your favorite music played. Moms-to-be are encouraged to ask for things that will help them feel relaxed, within reason, of course.
You can also list the people you would like present in the room during labor and delivery, such as your spouse or partner, parents, friends, etc.
A birth plan can also contain information on whether or not you want an epidural or other form of pain relief and what kind of birth equipment you would like.
You can also request to have your baby placed skin-to-skin with you immediately after delivery.
Do You Really Need a Birth Plan?
This really comes down to your personal preferences and what the hospital’s policies are. In my case, I didn’t feel that I needed one because my hospital was laid back when it came to accommodating requests from moms-to-be, and I didn’t really have many specific requests.
My husband and I took a tour of the maternity ward beforehand and knew more or less what to expect. I decided that I’d rather focus on labor and delivery and not worry about whether or not the hospital staff was honoring my requests.
Having a birth plan might help you feel more in control over the last mile of your pregnancy, but in reality, how smoothly things go is ultimately up to your little one.
Will the Hospital Follow Your Birth Plan?
It’s important to check with the hospital before writing up a plan, if you decide to do one. The hospital might enforce certain policies for new moms that clash with your wishes, or they might not have the equipment or setup you would like.
If your pregnancy is a high-risk one, your doctor might not feel that it’s safe to grant certain requests. Knowing this ahead of time will make it easier for you to decide if you want to bother writing up a birth plan, then having to worry about making sure that it’s followed.