The power of a birth plan

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I didn’t want to write a birth plan. I tend to be a bit of an anxious person and, inside, I knew I was pretty tied to what birth I hoped to have (as natural as possible!). Writing it all down would have made my desires too firm, and my instincts told me it was crucial to be flexible. Well, at least as flexible as someone not-so go-with-the-flow can be.

Luckily, my HMO had it covered with a simple page of questions and check-the-box answers. That way, when we were admitted, the nurses would know that I wanted to be offered medication if they felt it would be beneficial to the baby’s progress, and that my husband wanted to cut the cord. The paper was scanned and put in my electronic file, the original tucked in our overnight bag for the hospital.

But when the big day came, I’m not sure anyone involved with my delivery actually looked at that piece of paper. Things happened so quickly. My water broke around 10:30 at night and by the time we got to the hospital, my contractions were fierce and fast enough for us to stay. My parents arrived around 1:30 a.m., and at 3:30, I announced I was ready to push. Two hours later, on Christmas Eve morning, my son was born.

It was a whirlwind, but it would have been a whirlwind whether it was long or short. Laboring naturally put everything in such sharp focus that time collapsed. I didn’t think about the music mix my husband had made, sucking on the lollipops we’d brought, or the many other things we’d done to be prepared. In the end, it was all about me and the baby inside, and everyone in the room took direction from us as long as we stayed healthy and well.

Looking back, though, I wouldn’t forgo any of the upfront work of taking birthing classes, reading about labor, and stocking a bag with the right gear. It was what made me feel confident for whatever came our way once the contractions started.

Read more: Why every woman needs a birth plan

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