Why You Shouldn’t Bother With a Birth Plan

When I was pregnant with my first child, I knew exactly what I wanted out of my birth experience. To not feel pain. I was terrified of the epidural, of course, but I was more terrified of something the size of a watermelon shooting out of my nether regions. No, thank you, was my logical response to that idea.

I made it clear to everyone that was what I wanted. And, yet…childbirth has a way of taking your ideal birth plan and punching it right in the face.


My water broke at a mall a good 20 minutes from my house. I remember sitting on a towel on the freeway racing home only to be told to hang out a little longer until my contractions were closer together. When they became stronger, and unbearable, we headed to the hospital. That night was one of those weird nights where every woman in the city must have gone into labor. Every room in the small, quaint hospital I had chosen mostly because it was small and quaint had every single room full with a woman in labor.

My doctor popped in for a whole 2.5 seconds to check me once and then I never saw her again. My midwife was there though, which made me feel slightly better because I liked her more anyway. It was the middle of the night, and the anesthesiologist was nowhere to be found. I was begging for my epidural, and then they broke the news to me.

They only had one anesthesiologist on staff (cute, small hospital be damned) and he was in a C-section. I was low on the birthing totem pole.

To make a super long, painful story short, I never got the epidural that night, and my husband still remembers me screaming in pain so loud during those contractions at the end, that you could probably hear me all the way down the hall.

I read What to Expect When You’re Expecting with my first pregnancy, and I even turned over a birth plan to my ob-gyn. She probably laughed when she left the room after slipping my printed out itinerary into my chart. I laugh now too just thinking about my naivety of typing up an actual birth plan. But, the books told me to, so I did it.

My second experience was completely different. I labored at home for hours until my husband could get off work, then we calmly drove to the hospital where I immediately told anyone that would listen that I wanted an epidural. I got one, and I remember feeling like birth was a piece of cake comparatively.

My middle child was born at 9 p.m. at night, and I just remember it all being so easy.

It’s not that birth plans are dumb, it’s just that you can’t really plan what will happen during birth. Your body, and your baby, are going to do (or not do) whatever they want during the process. No matter how hard you try to control it, you’re really not in control at all. I’m sure any woman who has had a plan, and had it go awry will agree. And, believe me, there are lots of us out there.

But, here’s what you can plan for during your birth experience:

You won’t care if you poop during childbirth. And, no one is going to tell you if you did. I mean, oddly, this was one of my top concerns. Oh, the horror! I thought. But, really, when you’re pushing a baby out, it’s the least of your concerns, and the staff doesn’t care one bit either. Did you see April the giraffe give birth? If not, Google it. You’ll feel better. Everyone poops.

There will be tears. I mean, there are a whole lot of emotions going on in your mind and body when you have your baby. Some are rational, and some are hysterical. But, if you don’t cry, someone will. Maybe it’s your husband, or mom, or your crazy Aunt Linda. It’s an emotional experience so, you can definitely prepare for someone crying as a result.

You can count on your significant other obeying your commands. This is a nice perk of childbirth. Use this opportunity wisely. Make him do stuff. Make him not look if you don’t want him to. Make him rub your shoulders or leave the room. You can do whatever you want, and he will be so terrified of the pregnant lady about to birth his child, he’ll do it. Plan ahead for this. Make a mental list of some things you want to ask for during this special time. Like pedicures every week for life, or something.

You’ll forget all of it when you see your baby. This is the best part. You’ll forget the pooping, and the pain, and the fact that you might have possibly screamed bad, mean things at your husband. You’ll forget that your birth plan didn’t go at all like it was supposed to.

When you see that baby, you’ll forget all of it and be in love. A little terrified of being a mother, but in love. And, that’s all that matters.

So, write the birth plan if you want. Spell everything out if you need to in order to calm your anxious mind, but know that it will be a roller coaster that you can’t get off of. And the high at the end — seeing your new baby — is totally worth the crazy ride.

Photo: Getty