Not Having a Birth Plan Made Me Less Anxious

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When I was pregnant with my first baby, I knew what a birth plan was. I knew what went into one and that many women have them. In theory.

When I was pregnant with my first, I was a busy graduate student attending classes, trying to get through my practicum placement that required me to do psychological testing with college students and write up reports, study for my comprehensive exams, and get through a daily pile of class readings. To say I didn’t have much time to enjoy pregnancy is an understatement. There were times when I almost forgot! Until, you know, ligament pains, nausea, headaches, and the Braxton Hicks hit.

I knew I needed a birth plan. In theory. The truth is, I forgot. It didn’t actually occur to me to write one until I was 30-something weeks along and my doctor asked if I had a plan. I told her I wanted an epidural. Pain and I are not even acquaintances. I would have to think about the rest.

I never did.

A few weeks later, I was in the hospital in pre-term labor. Scared? Yes. Unprepared? Absolutely. In denial? Most definitely.

Birth plan? Whoops. Well, I was supposed to have about 5 more weeks!

In the end, not having a birth plan made me less anxious. I barely had a hospital bag packed, so definitely wouldn’t have had any lovely items that might have been listed on my plan. I had just taken the hospital tour a few weeks before and only really remembered where to go and not what equipment and other birthing paraphernalia they offered. I had no concrete idea of how I wanted to give birth. I had recently learned I had passed my exams and was dreaming about my career in psychology instead of having a baby.

Not having a plan meant I didn’t have to worry about making sure I had everything I wanted with me. I’m the kind of person who normally needs to know every step of what I’m about to do, so not having a plan meant I wasn’t taking up brain space with the details of a plan.

In the end, I was exhausted from spending about 2.5 days in labor and getting almost no sleep before my son finally arrived that, when they asked for my birth plan, all I said was, “Get the baby out.”

I didn’t care how they did it or what they had to do. I was exhausted, already sleep deprived, and in the worst pain of my life before I got the epidural and after it stopped working. I just wanted to be done, to have the baby out. If I had a plan, I probably would have been freaking out and driving everyone up the wall (I can be a little particular).

Not having a birth plan made me less anxious. I literally had nothing but getting the baby out to think about. I figured birth is birth. It’ll be whatever it needs to be to ensure a safe delivery of a healthy child. And when that child is born early, that really takes up more mental space. I spent more time worrying about his lung development than how to get him out.

When it came time to having a second baby, I took the same route: whatever it took to ensure the safe delivery of a healthy child. As I entered the last month, odds were good I was having a second late pre-term baby. My daughter did not disappoint.

This time around, I had less on my plate, but had a toddler who had never been separated from mom and dad to think about. He is my rainbow baby, my absolute joy. I spent more time worrying about him than the baby.

I was glad I took the same route, glad I didn’t put any thought into a birth plan. I was able to enjoy those last months of having an only child, got to relax into my pregnancy and really pay attention to what it feels like, and really enjoy naptime.

For many women, having a birth plan is the way to go. For me, I would have fretted and worried more. I wouldn’t have been as relaxed the second time around. I wouldn’t have trusted the medical professionals who deliver babies all day, every day. Of course, there are horror stories, and I met one. But I got lucky.

In the end, I safely delivered two healthy pre-term babies who make me laugh and constantly chase around my last marble before it gets lost. Not having a birth plan meant the medical professionals could do whatever it took to bring my children into the world and freed up my mental space to worry about what comes next: caring for and raising them.

Perhaps instead of a birth plan, having a raising kids plan should take center stage. After all, 18+ years of raising a child is a whole lot longer than labor, though the intensity of labor sometimes has me questioning that.

12 Comments

  • coffeepjsmom

    Great blog! I sorta had a birth plan. I found out though that I ended up not using most of the stuff I had packed for the hospital. I really only needed sweats to change into for the ride home and my kindle to listen to audio books! 🙂 Of course we packed stuff for the baby like her outfit and bear.

    • kat

      Thanks! Hospitals really do supply everything we actually need. After all, they care for new moms all day everyday! I get wanting to be comfortable, but all I really cared about was making sure my baby was okay and I got my stool softener!

  • mrsmotherdirt

    Birth plans are over rated! Ultimately it’s a crap shoot and the baby calls her own shots. The second baby I just accepted and went along for the ride. Much better experience.

    • kat

      Absolutely agree! Babies come into the world however they want. All that really matters is that they come out and are breathing. So glad your second experience was a good one!

  • mrsmotherdirt

    Thank you, me too! My first experience was long and hard. I was wanting a natural, magical birth and got the opposite. With baby #2, I already knew the only thing that matters is – in the end I get to hold my baby and rest. 🙂

  • Shannon

    A birth plan? What is that? Lol! I am getting ready for my fifth kid to be born in December and the only plan I am in need of is pain management. I am focused on having a natural birth to better my experience and a birth plan sounds a lot more than I need.

    I have always went in to the hospital just open to having a baby and leaving. The goal is to get said child out before I lose my sanity all the way. I want a natural pain managed birth and that is it.

    • kat

      Oh wow! Congratulations and good luck! I definitely think birth plans are overrated, though I can see how it helps some women. But I agree that the goal is to get baby out without going crazy. Best of luck!

  • April Blackburn

    I stressed myself out because I thought I needed a birth plan. Then my sister told me to just let it happen the way it was supposed to and that if I didn’t have a plan, then I wouldn’t set myself up for disappointment. Love your post btw!

    • kat

      Thanks! That’s exactly what I thought with my second. If you’re not setting yourself up for a certain experience, it’s a lot harder to be disappointed and a lot easier to just focus on your new baby. Congratulations!

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