THE TOP 12 MISTAKES TO AVOID WITH A BIRTHING PLAN
Mistake #1 to avoid with your birthing plan: making it too long.
The ideal size for a birthing plan is usually 3 pages or less. By 3 pages, we mean small paragraphs with breathable space. Some parents get enthusiastic and write long paragraphs and long sentences. The longest birthing plan I have seen had over 30 pages. It felt more like a college dissertation. Needless to say that no one read it. Do not be afraid to use short sentences or checkboxes to keep your birth plan readable.
Mistake #2 to avoid with your birthing plan: make it confrontational.
When writing your birth plan, put yourself in the reader’s shoes. If you are bashing the healthcare professionals who will take care of you during the birth, that will not go down well. A nice conversational, respectful tone will go a long way. You have to see the personnel as part of your team and not the enemy. Keep your energy to give birth.
Mistake #3 to avoid with your birthing plan: copying someone else’s birth plan.
A birth plan is personalized and should reflect your wishes. If you copy a birthing plan a friend lent you or one found on the internet without modifying to reflect your desires, you will feel a disconnect when you are in labor.
Mistake #4 to avoid with your birthing plan: not doing enough research
There are elements in a birth plan that require that your research the topic and make yourself an opinion. It is not sufficient to say “we refuse all antibiotics” without researching that there are cases when antibiotics can be life-saving for you or your baby.
Mistake #5 to avoid with your birthing plan: Being unrealistic.
You might desire a waterbirth but does the center where you will be giving birth even offering waterbirths? You might want to push on your hands and knees but is your doctor comfortable with this birthing position? etc
Mistake #6 to avoid with your birthing plan: not including enough your partner.
Some birthing plans are all about the mother and the birth partner feel left out. One sure way to include your partner is to prepare your birth plan together.
Mistake #7 to avoid with your birthing plan: not discussing it with your caregiver at a regular office visit.
Presenting your birth plan and discussing it with your caregiver at a regular office visit is essential. This is the only way you will know before the birth if your birth plan is compatible with your healthcare provider’s way of working or not. If you ait until the day of the birth, you could get very disappointed to realize that you are not on the same page as your caregiver and it will be too late to change.
Mistake #8 to avoid with your birthing plan: being unrealistic.
I have seen some birthing plan where the mother was planning on almost running around the room during labor. Giving birth requires a lot of energy and some parents-to-be have unrealistic expectations and get disappointed when they realize that they are not the supermen they imagined in their birth plan. Cut yourself some slack!
Mistake #9 to avoid with your birthing plan: being too rigid.
Some parents see their birth plan as an “all or nothing” document. Hence, they get disappointed and discouraged if the birth does not go exactly according to their birth plan. You should see your birthing plan like a travel plan. When you travel, you might encounter detours and even flat tires but you should not let that ruin your entire trip. So what if you are taking the epidural and did not plan on it? Your baby will be as beautiful.
Mistake #10 to avoid with your birthing plan: not writing a section called in case of complications.
When you plan for the best, you get the best. Sometimes, though things happen. If you did not consider that a cesarean is a possibility, you might end up with a scenario that is not what you want because you did not consider the implications of a cesarean, and decisions are made for you. Many people will write something like ” we do not anticipate any complication but if they were to occur, here are our preferences.”
Mistake #11 to avoid with your birthing plan: not meaning it.
Some future parents write a birth plan because they see other people doing that. It is okay to say that you do not want to write a birthing plan or that you do not have any particular desires for the birth.
Mistake #12 to avoid with your birthing plan…
Are you ready for the biggest mistake to avoid with your birthing plan? This is the bomb!
Forgetting to bring your birth plan at the hospital or birthing center!
I have seen it and it wasn’t pretty. The poor forgetful father was sweating bullets. We just sat down and wrote an impromptu birthing plan from memory. You see that adaptability is key for a birthing plan.
Nathalie Fiset, M.D.