WHAT?! You just spent all this time writing a birth plan preferences, whittling it down to fit on one page, and feeling like the world’s best up-and-coming new mother! Now something has changed—do you really need to chuck the birth plan preferences you’ve already labored over?
Writing your birth plan is a significant project that involves thinking about your personal needs alongside other factors like your health, the rules of your hospital or birthing center, your state’s rules, your partner’s desires, cultural concerns, and who attends your birth. Some parts of your birth plan can roll with changes in location, attendees, or partner desires. Some parts may not be as flexible—like where or how you give birth.
These shifts can be game-changers that make adjusting your birth plan likely:
One of the top two considerations that makes changing your birth plan a necessity. If your risk level goes from low to high, you may have to change where you have your baby, and how. Some medical conditions or issues can still be part of a home or birthing center birth, while others simply cannot.
The other of the top two considerations. No one wants to mess with baby’s wellbeing. If baby’s condition changes during pregnancy in a way that makes your doctor, nurse, or midwife want more than the average monitoring, you’ll probably need to give birth in the hospital. If you were planning a home or birthing center birth, and your birth plan says that you want to move around during labor, you may have to adjust to being in bed with a fetal monitor instead.
Some of the interventions (medications, incisions, shots, etc.) you might not want, may become necessary anyway. In the event of health concerns, your ability to have a say in necessary hospital procedures will probably reduce. Many hospitals try to accommodate some personal choice, but your birth preferences will need to be flexible.
Accidents, infections, or undiagnosed issues could suddenly arise that mean your birth plan/perspective will need to be adjusted.
Let’s say that your birthing center or home birth is no longer possible and you go to the hospital. Or, that something in your hospital birth changed from what you anticipated. That doesn’t mean you have to chuck the birth plan so dear to your heart.
You can still find out whether the music, the scents, the movement, the touch, the positions, or the clothing you want, are still possible. In many hospitals your partner can still be with you, even if you have an emergency C-Section.
Unless baby needs to be rushed to NICU or you need serious postpartum care, most of your post-birth preferences will likely still be doable. You can probably still delay cord clamping, have immediate skin-to-skin contact, initiate breastfeeding immediately, delay washing and measuring and weighing, collect your cord blood, preserve your placenta, have rooming-in with baby, dress baby in natural fiber clothing, and have your partner stay with you.
Best advice: ASK.
Talk to your birth team, your care provider, and the hospital in advance. Talk to your partner, too, about what they want to do in the event that your plans need to shift.
The bottom line is that everyone wants the best for you and your baby. Rolling with the changes while holding on to your inner grace, your personal choice whenever possible, and the vision of having baby sweetly and safely in your arms, is the key to flexibly using your birth plan in whatever situation your birth experience puts you.
To learn more about birth plans, download our free Birth Plan eBook now. After three years of research, collaboration with more than 100 childbirth experts and resource centers from Healthy Child Healthy World to the American Association of Neonatal Nurses, the Best Ever Baby Birth Plan Guide is available for a free download.
This new resource for pregnant families is a compilation of top tips and advice from more than 20 nationally-recognized experts in the field including renowned pediatrician, Dr. Alan Greene and GraceFull Birthing founder, midwife Elizabeth Bachner. These trusted experts offer thoughtful guidance for whatever type of birthing experience parents want, in whichever setting they choose.
Published: September 30, 2017 | By SP Turgon, Certified Labor Doula | Reviewed by: The Best Ever Baby Expert Team | Last reviewed: September, 2017