According to the BabyCenter website, "A birth plan is a document that lets your medical team know your preferences for things like how to manage labor pain."
That sounds like a pretty good thing to have, right?
It can be - or it might not be. Let me explain.
Birth plan templates and creators are found easily on several popular baby sites, listing out categories and options you might not have even considered before you saw all of those check marks. As you work your way through all of the exciting sections, you generate pages upon pages of this ideal birth. It's easy to become overwhelmed from all of the information, and to fixate on details of how each stage of your labor will go as planned.
If there is one thing that is predictable about birth.... it's that it is unpredictable.
When you walk into your birth, we never quite know how it's going to go. We don't know how fast your labor will progress. We don't know if you'll actually enjoy that big birth playlist you spent time constructing. We don't even know if you'll find water as soothing in labor as you do right now. There are many variables to consider when you're looking at birth, and keeping a grip on this concrete idea that we can plan to the minute how our births will go might not be the greatest thing.
It could certainly pave the way for a really great feeling triumph - but it can also pave the road for disappointment if things don't go as you expect them to.
A birth plan is an amazing tool to have, but it's just that - a tool. Instead of getting hung up on the idea of having this concrete plan, it's a great idea to look more at the experience that constructing this plan offers. When you're building this plan - something I prefer to call your list of birth goals, something you're working towards achieving - the best part about it isn't necessarily the document that you get at the end. The best part is the fact that you're researching all of your options and getting to know your care provider and the hospital that you'll be delivering at.
Getting to know your options also opens up the door for back-up plans. Even if you don't want to consider that your birth might not go exactly to your plan, you can be comfortable knowing that you'll have another list in the back of your mind that you'll know are possible - just in case. This also provides a great dialogue with your care provider about what you can expect if things don't go to plan and will help to build not only your trust in your provider, but also your relationship with them. That's never a bad thing!
I love how birth plans provide a great opportunity for getting to know yourself, your wishes, and the opportunities available. Birthing your baby is a part of parenting, and you have forty weeks to figure out your goals for both your birth and parenthood. It is truly invaluable to know where you'd like to go during this momentous time in your life, but it's also important to remember there are so many paths to a happy outcome. Only you know the path that feels best for your family.