Birth Plans, Important Or A Waste Of Time?

More than ever now women are having a bigger say in how and where they deliver their babies

There is a lot of talk around this topic in recent times.
More than ever now women are having a bigger say in how and where they deliver their babies. There tends to be quite divide when it comes to opinions about birth plans. Is it important to you? Or has experience taught you that it is a waste of time?
When the question was posed to me in the maternity hospital I stared at the midwife blankly. “And have you thought about your birth plan at all?” the midwife innocently asked me. My response was a deer-in-the-headlights “my plan is to have a baby?”. We laughed about it later but in truth I was totally surprised by her question. It was my first pregnancy, I had no idea what to expect and I suppose I just assumed that she would be telling me what the plan was.
The reality was in fact quite different. My midwife informed me that I actually had quite a prominent voice in all of this. She told me that it would be important for me to speak up and articulate my preferences if they were important to me. I never considered this before and it really gave me food for thought. I read stories online about women berating pethidine. This is often the first form of pain-relief offered during early labour. Women spoke about the fact that their babies were born drowsy. It scared the life out of me and I instantly decided I did not want pethidine. At my next appointment I spoke up about it and my midwife wrote it in to my notes. Before I knew it I was putting together a birth plan. It felt totally liberating. After all this was my baby and my body. I suddenly realised that it was very important for me to have a voice in how things unfolded.
A lot of women will speak about labour in a hospital as being on a conveyor belt. To an extend that it true. Certain things will be offered to you at certain times. You will even be “given” a certain amount of time to progress in a particular way before a certain intervention “must” take place. It creates a lot of anxiety and stress for the mother. She is essentially “on the clock” to deliver her baby. Certainly not the way nature intended. For this reason it is not surprising that a lot of mothers are choosing to attempt home-births. They crave a birthing experience where they are not limited or controlled by hospital procedures, time lines and politics. They want to give birth naturally and at their own pace. This holistic approach is becoming increasingly popular. Some hospitals are on board now and have dedicated teams who will assist in home and water-births. It can often be the reason why a woman chooses the care of a particular hospital.
On the other hand there is the very real risks involved no matter what you do. If complications develop during a home-birth then you are geographically further away from a hospital where the equipment and people who can help are based. The other side to this is that many people believe that the interventions of a hospital can in fact be the reason for such complications.
There is no guarantee no matter what you chose. There will always be a risk and complications are usually not predictable when it comes to giving birth. For many women it is incredibly empowering to simply have a voice in the whole experience though. More woman are hiring doulas and gentle birth coaches to help them prepare for labour and cope during it.
When it came to my birth plan things did not pan out as expected. A “back labour” meant that for me an epidural was a welcomed option. It made the experience far more gentle and in the end was a very good thing for me. I didn't get the natural birth that I had hoped for but I still felt in control of my choices and options. For a lot of people a birth plan can feel like a waste of time because their experience has been negative. They may have made a plan and fate had different ideas entirely. There is a lot to be said for taking it as it comes and not setting yourself up for disappointment. On the other hand there are women who, regardless of how things pan out, want to exercise their right to make these choices themselves. 
Written by Tracey, mummy blogger and staff writer with
Check out her own blog at

Tracey Quinn

Proud mum of two who got married on Don't Tell The Bride and had an accidental home-birth (loves a good story). She's passionate about breastfeeding, positive thinking & all things cosy.

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