The Lamaze Guide to Creating a Birth Plan

Many of the birth plans you may see in books or birth classes are simply checklists of medical procedures you do or don't want. To be truly useful, a birth plan should include much more. If you want to give birth normally, you'll need to develop strategies for making it happen. You'll also need to talk with your support team and your caregiver as your plans take shape. The more restrictive your birth site is, the more carefully you'll need to plan and the harder you'll have to work to keep your birth normal.

Remember, though, that your birth plan isn't an agenda. Creating a birth plan is like planning for a vacation. You read, talk to friends and share ideas with your traveling companion. Together you sort through options and make some decisions. You settle on a beach vacation. You decide where and when to go. You make airline and hotel reservations. You know you want to rest, relax and eat wonderful food, but you have no idea exactly how your vacation will unfold. You may eat every meal alfresco, take long walks on the beach and watch breathtaking sunrises and sunsets. Or it might rain the whole time, so you might watch old movies, sleep late, read and spend a lot of time in elegant restaurants. No matter how your vacation unfolds, you'll rest, relax, eat well and have a wonderful time.

If you want to give birth normally, your planning should focus on creating an environment in which you feel safe enough to labor without worry and free enough to work with your unique labor. But as with a vacation, it's counterproductive to plan the details of birth too carefully. As poet Robert Burns says, "the best laid schemes o' mice and men" often go awry. Your labor may unfold differently than you expect. And you will probably respond to your labor in ways that feel right but aren't planned.

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