The reason I’m not a fan is because they rarely turn out as planned.

Let me start by saying doing research and educating yourself about what to expect for your labor and delivery is very important.

And I believe (if possible) education should start with understanding how to conceive a healthy pregnancy.

But when it comes to a written birth plan, as a L&D RN, I’ve noticed more often than not, the plan is rigid. Too rigid.

When this is the case, it rarely goes as planned leaving mom frustrated, disappointed and feeling as if she failed. First of all, you can not give birth and fail. Impossible.

I have always been a patient advocate. I pride myself on it. I support the path of labor, delivery and recovery of ALL my patients. But the expectation many of my laboring patients put on themselves with a stringent birth plan often results in birth trauma and immediate post delivery bonding difficulties.

A written birth plan should be discussed and not just handed to your nurse and provider. A discussion allows clarity and also the opportunity for staff to ask specific questions so we can provide you with the expectations you hope for.

A patients birth plan states she would like to take her placenta home. At the hospital where I work, the placenta is allowed to be taken home only if it is taken out of the hospital, on ice, BEFORE mom is transferred to postpartum. Hospital policy will not allow the placenta to be transported to the postpartum unit. This is not possible for everyone, and those that can't easily leave, become upset and sometimes angry.

Example #2 

A patients birth plan states "will take IV pain medication for pain, but no epidural. This is a common request and perfectly understandable IF, that decision is based on personal preference and correct information. However, after discussion, if it is discovered that the patient states the reason for not getting an epidural is because she does not want to suffer permanent back pain, then more education is needed so the patient can better make an informed decision.

The key to researching a birth plan is to understand your options. Success will depend on your mindset, good communication with your labor team and strong support.

Rest assured, our goal is never to try to change your mind, but to ensure you have the safe and empowered birth you desire and deserve.

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