Why You Might Want To Throw Your Birth Plan Out The Window
Having a birth plan is a very popular approach to the birth of your baby, and understandably so. This momentous life event impacts you tremendously, and it also impacts another person – a tiny little one, who is all yours. It makes sense that any mom would want to have a plan in mind when arriving at the hospital or birth center. One thing you can count on is that when it comes to childbirth, there are no guarantees.
When I was preparing to give birth to my daughter, I planned on a smooth, fairly uneventful delivery at 40 weeks. As it turned out, I developed dangerously high blood pressure and then preeclampsia at 37 weeks. My daughter was breech all throughout my pregnancy, and despite intervention with acupuncture, my doctor made the decision that she needed to leave her nice home in my womb at 38 weeks. I had about 12 hours to prepare for my c-section.
Despite the fact that I have a trusting relationship with my doctor, I still had ideas. I wanted a certain song playing, I wanted the room to be at just the right temperature, for dad to be standing precisely behind my head, and lots of other specifics. Unless you truly have major concerns about the quality of care you’re receiving, it’s always a good idea to trust your doctor and nurses.
So many factors of our lives are outside of our control, yet they can impact us in powerful ways. There are always internal and external factors in life that are informing the decisions you make, and frustrating as it may be, you are the only person (for better or worse) who actually acts upon the influences around you. There is a great deal of freedom in understanding that we actually don’t have a whole lot of control of what happens around us. When we begin to identify those factors and isolate them, we can begin to parse out the things that actually are within our control.
Think of your life in concentric circles of behavior or decision-making control. In the middle, you exist by yourself, not even with a spouse or kids (you’re your own person, remember?). In a slightly larger circle encompassing you, you’ll find your spouse, kids, and a few close friends and family. Zooming out even further, you have a larger circle with extended family, larger friend groups and acquaintances and colleagues. The largest circle in which all other circles live includes strangers and circumstances.
The only circle you can control is you.
You can’t control the time your baby comes, or the rude stranger you encountered at the grocery store. You can’t control your L&D nurses by asking them to turn on your favorite song. You might not even be able to control your own bowels – surprise!
When I received local anesthesia and a spinal block, I realized that I couldn’t move my body at all from below my arms. I had no control over my body, and yet I had an army of people surrounding me whose job it was to keep me and my daughter safe and well. I wore a “fall risk” wristband because the hospital staff knew that I wouldn’t be able to walk with all of the medication and major surgery. I didn’t get to make many decisions other than if my baby slept in my room and what Netflix show I wanted to watch.
When we realize that we aren’t puppeteers fiddling the strings of everyone’s lives around us, it’s actually much easier to take a deep breath and function well within our own circle of what we can control. Additionally, it makes us role models and lovely to be around. Once I was able to take some deep breaths and process that my birth “plan” was outside of my control, I was able to enjoy the birth of my daughter infinitely more.