My friends tell me I should write out a “birth plan” before I go to the hospital to have my baby. Is it necessary?
The value of a birth plan is to help you be prepared for the birth of your baby. It is important to keep in mind that what you “plan” to do and what happens might be two different stories.
“Birth plans” and life have a lot in common. Sometimes things don’t work out they way we had hoped they would. Learning how to handle the disappointments in life takes time and energy.
Having a baby is not meant to be a time of disappointment. It is meant to be time of joy. But when your birth experience is not what you thought it would be — your baby doesn’t eat well, you have trouble sitting, you are not getting any sleep, your baby may need repeated blood tests — you can get pretty disappointed.
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What is disappointment? It is the when we have hoped and prayed something will happen and it doesn’t. The word actually is made up of two word, “dis” and appointment. “Dis” means to separate. Appointment means to fix or set up. When we are disappointed there is a separation between what we had hoped or expected to happen and what actually happened. It can fill us with anguish, despair, and great sadness.
How we deal with disappointment will determine whether we can find the good that will come from the fact that we don’t always have control.
We all make plans and hope they work out. Plans are like relationships, when they work out as we expected there is great joy. When they do not, there is great disappointment.
Life is full of ups and downs. Learning how to deal with the happy times and the times when we are disappointed is a life long process. All of us have times when we handle life’s challenges well and times when we are miserable. What is the secret to handling disappointment well? I think it is a combination of understanding: “There is a time for sorrow and a time for joy, a time for laughter and a time for tears.” Also knowing that we have to accept the challenges life presents as well as develop personal strategies for solving our problems.
Instead of spending time on writing out what you want to happen think about how you will face the challenges of labor and the early weeks of post partum. Cultivate a plan of learning to accept the challenges that labor, delivery and early postpartum will bring.
Decide to bring energy to your healing time after birth. Know that it will take time to heal and to adjust to this major change in your life, becoming a mother.
Katie Powers, R.N., is a board-certified lactation consultant and perinatal educator at Manatee Memorial Hospital’s Family BirthPlace. Her column appears every other week in Family & Friends. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.