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Birth Plans: A Waste of Time?

birthplansawaste.jpgPregnancy is a wondrous and exciting time in a woman’s life and this is especially true of women who are experiencing pregnancy for the first time. These first-timers are often bombarded with information and advice from multiple sources, including family, friends and doctors and can lead a woman to feel completely overwhelmed. This was also the case with my first pregnancy, in 2001. All of a sudden, anyone who ever had children or had been around children, felt free to offer up all sorts of advice and anecdotes about their personal experiences. I took their advice with a grain of salt and decided to do some reading of my own.

I was surprised that many pregnancy books recommended writing out a “Birth Plan” to be used while in labor. This plan would let the doctors and nurses know exactly what you wanted or did not want during the birth process, such as pain medication or use of forceps during the delivery. I thought that this was a good idea and proceeded to make out my own detailed birth plan and carried it with me in my suitcase as I naively headed off to the hospital for my scheduled induction. What I didn’t realize, however, was how quickly things can change in labor and quite honestly, medical personnel does not have time to refer to your birth plan with every move they make. This is especially true in cases where the mother’s or baby’s life are in immediate danger. Luckily, the delivery of my son was a relatively uneventful experience, except for immediately postpartum when the hospital staff forgot to feed me and I ended up passing out in the bathroom, but I digress.

Birth plans seem to be more of a way for women to reassure themselves that they will have control of whatever happens to them during childbirth rather than a document that is seriously read by medical staff. It would be interesting to find out what percentage of women who made out a birth plan actually had it followed to the letter in their particular hospital or birth center. I would dare to say that in most cases birth plans are rarely consulted. With my current pregnancy, I am not even going to bother to write out a birth plan because it is, unfortunately, a waste of time.

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