Nearly every expectant mom considers drawing up a birth plan at some point, and there are certainly many benefits if you take the time to do so. If nothing else, it will give you an opportunity to think through and talk about all of the various choices you have. Yet some experts – as well as moms who have been through the process – believe that it can be healthier to skip the birth plan and “go with the flow” when it’s time to deliver. So after all you’ve heard about the benefits of having a birth plan, what could be the advantages of skipping it altogether?
1. You open yourself up to the experience: If you’re not bound by a plan, your mind is more open to taking things moment by moment, as they come. Many women find that this approach makes them more appreciative of the labor and delivery as the journey that it really is, rather than as a single destination (childbirth). Of course, even if you have a plan, you need to be flexible about many things, especially if you face an emergency situation. But if you aren’t adhering strictly to a birth “plan,” any bump that comes along in the road will be merely something that happens, as opposed to something that gets in the way of the plan.
2. You may be more relaxed. When you are tense and distraught, your labor and contractions may turn out to be more difficult. But if you are willing to live in the moment, and you’re not worried about following along with a plan, your body will probably be more relaxed as well. That means more “good” hormones will be flowing, and possibly an easier labor.
3. You may have a better relationship with your caregiver: Some doctors or midwives appreciate having a birth plan as a statement of what kind of birth you would like to have. But if your birth plan is too long or too prescriptive, it may alienate your caregiver. Additionally, some moms simply download pre-written birth plans that contain irrelevant or outdated information (such as asking not to be shaved or not to receive an enema, both of which are very rarely done anymore) that can result in the caregiver taking the document less seriously. If you have a relationship with your caregiver that is based on open discussion and trust, that relationship is probably more valuable than any piece of paper.
4. You may not have to worry about as many “what if’s”: What if I forget to bring the birth plan to the hospital? What if my regular doctor or midwife isn’t available? What if things move so quickly that the caregivers don’t have time to read the plan? What if I forgot some things to cover on my birth plan? If you’re prepared to go with the flow from the beginning, you won’t have to worry about having everything line up according to plan.
5. You’ll learn to be flexible: Probably one of the most important skills that new parents need to learn is the ability to be flexible – and what better time to learn it than during labor and delivery? Your baby is an individual, just as your labor and delivery will be like no one else’s. You have no way of knowing whether it will be quick, or whether labor will stall after two days. If you teach yourself to go with the flow and take whatever comes, you’ll be preparing yourself for something that all parents of young children need to learn.
Of course, if you want to work on a birth plan with your partner and/or your doctor or midwife, it’s never a bad thing to have open communication and lots of conversations about how you see it all coming together. But if you decide to go to the hospital without a piece of paper in your hand, you might just open your mind and body to an easier, worry-free delivery.