What's the deal with birth plans?

plan NOUN 

noun: plan · plural noun: plans 

  • a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something: 


Birth plans have been getting a bad rap. Why?  There are some doctors who say a woman who shows up to labor and delivery with a birth plan will definitely end up with a c section.  There are women who are met with opposition by nurses and doctors at the mere mention of a birth plan.  They may even be met with a flippant attitude from their own family and friends.  Why are birth plans creating so much strife?

We make many plans in life and it is usually with the understanding that things don't always go 100% according to plan.  We still make plans to give us an idea of where we are going and how we want to get there. Doctors themselves mapped out a plan on how to become a doctor.  The plan may have taken some twists and turns but I doubt they set out to become a doctor without some sort of plan in place. Nearly everything we do in life starts out as a plan. 

What is so wrong with making a birth plan? In my opinion, nothing.  A birth plan isa list of things the couple would either like to avoid during labor or things they would like to have happen at the birth.  Most expectant parents make a birth plan with the understanding that things can change and they will revisit their options if something changes.  They have researched the process of labor and have put down their wishes.  This gives them comfort and eases some anxiety of the unknown. We should encourage this preparation, not brush it off!

I offer assistance with the writing of a birth plan as part of my labor doula services.  During this process, I encourage couples to think of the "what ifs" and have a back up plan in mind in the event things don't go according to plan.  Instead of meeting birth plans with negativity we should respect that the parents have thought enough to prepare for childbirth.  In our culture, it has become expected for women to show up for childbirth and do what they are told.  A lot of people are not satisfied with this status quo and want to have a say in the birth of their child and be respected and included in the process.  If you are being met with opposition for talking about  a birth plan, take a good look on why that person is so vehemently against it.  If it is a provider, it may be that they are not fully supportive of you having a choice in your birth.  If it is friends and family, they may not understand there are options other than just "going with the flow". 

I don't encourage my clients to hide their birth plans or to call them something else, a birth plan is just that, a plan. We all know things don't always go according to plan but it doesn't stop us from making plans.  Birth isn't any different. Make a plan and then make a plan for that plan.  Then find people who support you and you trust to help you navigate the options in the event things don't go according to plan.