Birth Plans & Your Unpredictable Birth


We love helping our clients figure out and come up with their birth plans. It’s a great opportunity to learn about all of the options and variations that can come up in labor and birth and what you would prefer.

One of the hardest things we deal with as laboring and birthing people is accepting and coping with changes when things don’t go the way we hoped they would. We often have very fixed ideas of how we’d like our birth experiences to be.

However, Birth is unpredictable. The best-laid plans can come undone and often do. Birth outcomes and experiences are widely varied. There are as many different possibilities of things that can happen as there are people with different personalities.

Knowing what your options are is helpful, but always keep in mind how little control you have. Mother Nature can often throw you a curveball. You may wind up seeing all of your well thought out plans fly out the window. When this happens, you may have to quickly process unexpected events and make game time decisions.

Taking childbirth classes and learning about birth can help you to be prepared for everything and ready to adapt to anything.

Here are some examples of unexpected changes to a birth plan: 

Change of birth location: 

Maybe your birth plan includes delivering your baby at a birth center. After much anticipation, your labor does not start before 42 weeks which in turn results in a transfer to hospital care and an induction of labor. You really didn’t want to be in a hospital, but now you’re having to make this transition to get labor started.

Preterm Labor: 

Perhaps your birth plan included laboring with your husband and your mother present to support you at the hospital. Your mother booked her flight from out of town to arrive about ten days before your due date. You thought you had plenty of time because it’s your first baby and “first babies are always late” or so you’ve heard. Whoops! At 37 weeks of gestation you find yourself welcoming your baby. Unfortunately your Mom wasn’t able to make it.

Precipitous Labor: 

Let’s say you were planning to get an epidural to help with pain management. This was a definite YES on your birth plan. You arrive to the hospital in active labor and find out that you are fully dilated and your baby is on her way out. It was a precipitous labor (rapid labor) and there is insufficient time to get an epidural. With the help of your support team, you manage to forge ahead and before you know it your baby is born. As soon as she is on your chest, the memory of the discomfort quickly fades and your heart is filled with joy.

We have seen these exact scenarios play out.

Buddha Belly Tip: If your birth plan changes and you are struggling to cope, have a plan of what to tell yourself. Affirmations can be a helpful and powerful tool. 

Your own thoughts about the situation have an affect on you. Try to comfort yourself just like you would for a family member or a friend. Here are a few ideas:

“It’s okay. I have done my best. We will meet our baby soon.”

“I am strong. I can do this.”

“I will not judge myself negatively.”

“I shake off any pressure to be perfect and just do my best.”

From personal experience, I had planned to have a natural birth with my first child at a birth center, but my baby arrived early and breech and I was sent in an ambulance to the hospital for a c-section. The medical staff around me in the hospital were stressed and not putting me at ease. There were no other support persons with me for the surgery. I told myself: “It’s okay. It’s just a c-section. Everything will be all-right. These surgeries are performed everyday. You and baby will be okay.” And it was true. Everything turned out okay. My own inner voice helped me to get through. 

Mother Nature has a way of finding any rigid ideas you may have about birth and teaching you a lesson in “letting go.” For this reason, flexibility is an important aspect in navigating your way to a positive experience.

About Christie Collbran

Christie believes in helping women recognize their own inner wisdom, strength and power. Having served as President of the Tampa Bay Birth Network for six years and with ten years serving families as a birth doula, she has a reputation for leadership, dedication and compassion. A childbirth educator, certified lactation counselor as well as a certified doula, she makes a point of ensuring mothers and their partners understand all their birthing options and what to expect on their journey.> keep reading

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