While a mom-to-be is waiting to give birth, everything seems like a big deal, but that's because it is. Ushering a new life into the world can be exciting and terrifying all at once. No amount of parenting books or Lamaze classes can really prepare anyone for the experience that they are about to go through. Birthing plans are another part of the never-ending swirl of to-do's – but are they really necessary? How many of us painstakingly pour over every finite detail, from what music we want playing to what drugs we do or do not want, only for it to all go out the window at the last second? Are birth plans really a pointless exercise, or do they have some worth?
Birth plans have long been a part of the natural prepping process, but as we move into this modern age – littered with Insta-worthy post-birth snaps – are we wising up to them and seeing them for what they really are? Are we simply setting ourselves up for disappointment?
Back in 1980, Penny Simkin and Carla Reink published Planning Your Baby's Birth. The pamphlet was soon hailed as a sort of holy grail, the go-ahead that women needed in order to be open with their delivery team about the birthing process. It was all about control, and finally, we were given the means to take the bull by the horns and speak up about what we wanted to go down in the delivery room. In that respect, little has changed. Feeling comfortable is still one of the top priorities in the delivery suite, but unfortunately, like most things in life, labor rarely goes as planned.
Encouraged to make a birth plan by my midwife, I went into the fray fully prepared. I didn't want an epidural (terrible fear of needles over here), I wanted soothing music, gas and air and my mother by my side. Instead, I was strapped to a monitor unable to move for 17 hours, took the epidural at the first opportunity I could, and didn't hear a single note of Lana Del Rey. As it turns out, I'm not alone.
My Facebook friends list is full of powerful mamas, so when I need a question answered on the ins and outs (pardon the pun) of pregnancy, there's only one place to turn. I created a simple poll, asking if people did or didn't make a birth plan, and if they did make one, did they stick to it? Within minutes, my notifications were popping off quicker than a newborn's nappy.
Out of the hundred-odd women that responded to my post, a staggering 94% made a birth plan but didn't use it. The remaining 6% of voters made one and stuck to it, while some women came forward to say they didn't want to make one for fear of being disappointed when they weren't able to stick to it. One common factor came up multiple times - why make a plan when you simply can't plan the unplannable?
As I rooted through the answers and detailed descriptions left by a plethora of moms, one thing became blindingly obvious - trying to plan a birth is like trying to fly a spaceship when you've never even seen the moon.