Why I Didn’t Make a Birth Plan

How I prepare for labor instead of planning it.

It never fails that during the course of pregnancy, you will be told birth stories.

Perhaps a recounting of the perfect birth, planned to a T, and pulled off without a hitch. Or an experience that encountered every bump along the way and turned out much differently than planned.

However the conversation goes, a common thread exists: making a detailed birth plan is the normal and expected thing to do.

Yet, five births later, I have never made a detailed birth plan.

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Instead, I spend my months of pregnancy building rapport amongst my team, learning how to roll with the punches, and hoping I get to the hospital in time.

Trust Your Team

When it comes to giving birth, having rapport with your care providers and your hospital are key.

I‘ve had all five children with the same group of doctors, in the same city, and at the same hospital. I’ve been blessed with a state-of-the-art hospital that uses the most up-to-date practices. While this may not be possible for you, do everything possible to build rapport with your doctors.

Spend those forty weeks meeting each doctor who may be on call during delivery. Learn about them, open up about yourself, and crack jokes about the hilarious aspects of pregnancy. By the time baby is due, you should feel confident and comfortable with your team. 

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Likewise, get to know your hospital inside and out. Take a class, or two. Spend time within its' walls and get a thorough tour.

Learn about your hospital’s best practices. For example: What is their philosophy on an undisturbed first hour, delayed cord clamping, or baby-initiated breastfeeding? Furthermore, how does your hospital’s practices align with your wishes?

Do everything you can to feel as though it’s your place, because it will be. This hospital will inevitably be etched in your mind. You’ll remember the rooms you were in, the people who visited, and that little bundle that was the reason for it all.

Go With the Flow

Having a baby is like driving an unfamiliar, windy mountain road. Sure, there will be signs alerting your team to how labor is going, what baby’s doing, and approximately how much longer until you reach that destination.

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Yet there will be surprises too. Like unexpected bumps in the road, you may get jostled around a bit in the process.

By all means, spend time thinking about what your perfect birth would look like. Talk to your partner and provider to discuss how realistic this is. Then take a deep breath and let go (just a bit). 

Your team’s goal is to end the day with a healthy Mama and healthy baby. Do your part and listen to them. Ask clarifying questions if needed, but trust the relationship you’ve developed and go with the flow.

Time, Time, Time

Somewhere in-between my second and third babies, my body figured it out.

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I went from 15-hour labors to 3-hour ones. And with over an hour drive to the hospital, we’ve had our share of close calls, illegal parking, and rushing through the doors.

Needless to say, my (unwritten) birth plan for the last three pregnancies has solely consisted of getting to the hospital on time. According to this, I’ve had perfect births.

At the end of the day, when you’re simultaneously exhausted, adrenaline-filled, and in need of a shower, it won’t matter exactly how you got from point A to B. You’ll be focused on counting little toes and dreaming big dreams. That will be just about perfect.

Jess Wartinger

Jess Wartinger

Jess Wartinger resides in rural New York with her husband and five children. Formerly an early elementary teacher, Jess currently spends her time loving her kids and holding down the fort at home.

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