Make a Birth Plan, but Hold on to It Loosely

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Updated February 26, 2017
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As I got towards the end of my pregnancy with my son, I thought I knew how the delivery, hospital stay and the early days of parenting would go.

There are two lists. The first is what you want to happen. The second is what actually happens! I thought my water would break, I’d start timing contractions and go into the hospital when they were close together. I thought I’d labor there for a few hours, beg for an epidural and spend a couple of hours pushing. I thought we’d have lots of visitors in the hospital. I thought, once home, our son would sleep in the bassinet in our room. I thought I would breastfeed — maybe I’d struggle a little bit, but eventually he and I would catch on. I thought I would get home and hunker down.  I thought, I thought, I thought…

Not all that happened. My doctor wanted to induce labor. All of us in the room thought I was heading for a c-section after my blood pressure resembled the stock market ticker and I stayed at three centimeters dilated for hours. (I got one thing right — I did beg for an epidural!). We didn’t have too many visitors in the hospital — a few, but not loads and loads. Breastfeeding did not go well. I knew before delivery that I was having a small baby, but we didn’t expect him to be under six pounds, to wear preemie clothes and to be too small for his car seat. When we got home, my son hated the bassinet. And after the first few days home, forget hunkering down. I just had to get out of the house, so we took frequent walks and even shopped at Target.

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Now you’d think, after all that, I’d be telling moms-to-be not to have any expectations, but I’m not. Make a birth plan. Talk to your doctor as your time draws near. Keep communicating with the hospital staff during your stay there. Most of what I wanted actually happened, but not all of it. At some point, you realize that you chose your doctor and medical team for a reason and you’ll have to trust them in the heat of the moment. At some point, you also realize that you have to make adjustments to your ‘life with baby’ plan.

Have a vision for how you want things to go, but hold onto it loosely. Changes to your birth plan, or your sleeping or feeding arrangements don’t have to be the end of the world!

Did your baby’s birth and first weeks go as you’d expected? How did you deal with any changes to your plans?

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