In this series, we are reviewing the top 10 childbirth fears often discussed in childbirth classes. In last week's post, we talked about the fear of "losing control" in labor and birth, which can mean different things to different people. A pregnant person's fear of not having the birth plan followed is also about losing control, or perhaps more accurately, losing the birth that was hoped for. Find out more about this fear and what you can do about it. As always, one of the best ways to learn how to address your fears is to take a quality childbirth class!
"I'm Afraid My Doctor Won't Follow My Birth Plan"
This is an interesting subject to unpack. First, let's talk about birth plans. The term "birth plan" is a bit of a misnomer here, because you can't really plan a birth, can you? Even a scheduled cesarean (which is as close as you can get to planning a birth) is open to the unexpected. If you can begin to wrap your mind around creating a sheet of "preferences" for your birth instead a birth "plan," you'll do better to set realistic expectations. Birth is a physiological event, and much like a meteorological event, you can no more plan a birth than you can plan a thunder storm!
So now, considering that a birth plan is really a list of "preferences" and not a script, recipe, or set of Lego instructions, let's move on to discuss the fears surrounding this. If the birth you envision is one where you labor in the tub, with soft music and low light in the background, but the birth you get is 18 hours of intense back labor with little relief followed by a reluctant request for an epidural and three hours of pushing at the end of a 24 hour labor, chances are that you may feel disappointed and grieve over the loss of your beautiful birth. It's important to go into your birth experience with as much preparation and support as possible, but as much flexibility and openness as possible, too. This doesn't mean you have to give on your beliefs or rights in labor, or that you should be pressured into making a decision you feel is not evidence based. But rather, understand that birth is unpredictable.
Let's move on to another big part of this fear: having a care provider (OB or midwife) who does not support your preferences for labor and birth. Fortunately, in many cases, this is a fear that can be prevented. Making sure you discuss, in detail, your vision, wishes, preferences, and concerns for birth with your care provider well in advance of birth will let you know if you have hired someone who is likely to support your birth plan. It's important to ask the right kinds of questions, create your birth plan together with your care doctor, and learn to pick up on language that sounds supportive, but may not be.
If you come to the conclusion that your care provider is not someone who will work to give you the birth you want, or who does not practice evidence-based care, begin interviewing other care providers at different practices. It's almost never too late in your pregnancy to switch your midwife or OB.
Worrying about your birth -- how it will go, how you will handle it, how your provider will support you -- is very normal. It's important to recognize this fear, and then work to move to a place of acceptance and of "letting go." After choosing your care provider, having good labor support, and educating yourself on birth, the rest out of your hands. Some people turn to their strong faith to help them through a fear of the unknown, and others use therapy, meditation, and support from close friends or family. Look to your support system -- or create one! -- and use it often.