Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Importance of a Birth Plan

Are birth plans important? Why do I need one? Many expectant moms have been told that they should have a birth plan but they struggle with questions about how to make one and what to include. I'd like to share a story with you that I think will help you understand the importance of a birth plan. One of my clients who was 38 weeks pregnant with her first baby asked me to go to her ob. appointment with her. She was planning on giving the doctor her birth plan and wanted me to be there. I thought her birth plan was well done and not out of the ordinary. She wanted to be free to move around during labor, intermittent fetal monitoring, a hep lock instead of an IV, no episiotomy. She was healthy with no complications so these were not unusual requests. After her exam she showed the doctor her birth plan and asked him to sign it. After reading through it he proceeded to tell her line by line why she couldn't have any of the things she had requested. He told her that he had been delivering babies a very long time and he would know what she needed. He told her to just sit back and let him drive this plane and not to start getting bossy now that they were almost to the end of her pregnancy. I promise you this is a true story. Of course my client was devastated. We talked about her options and she decided she wanted to change doctors. There are very few doctors that will accept a woman after 32 weeks of pregnancy. Fortunately, her story had a happy ending. She found a supportive doctor who allowed her to have the birth she wanted. I tell you this story to encourage you to make a birth plan and share it with your doctor hopefully in your second trimester. This will allow you to know whether you and your doctor are on the same page about your desires for birth. It also will give you time to make changes if you find that your plan for the birth is not acceptable to your doctor. Here is a link to a great online birth plan generator http://www.birthplan.com/

If you have a birth doula she is also an excellent resource for helping you decide what to include in your birth plan. Doulas usually include help with your birth plan as part of your birth package. If you are struggling with what to include in the birth plan or just have questions please feel free to contact me. I will be happy to help.

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