5 Reasons Your OB Doctor Wants You to Think About Your Birth Plan

All the physicians at Sparks & Favor welcome birth plans. Whether you have a written plan or just a mental note of a few items, it helps us to know what is important to you.

A True Birth Plan Story

Many years ago, Dr. Sparks and his wife looked forward to the birth of their first child. Dr. Sparks, an army physician, had just received his new duty assignment to the 130th Station Hospital in Heidelberg, Germany. They would travel over a month before the baby’s due date, get settled, and then spend some time enjoying this beautiful city.

As an obstetrician and a neonatal nurse, they were pretty confident about the choices they made for their labor and delivery experience. Their baby had other plans. By the morning after their arrival in Germany, baby Sparks was making his way into the world. While still absorbing this sudden change of plans, the couple learned that—managing a shortage of anesthesia staff—the hospital was unable to offer epidural anesthesia to labor patients at that time. Mom was exhausted with jet lag, unprepared for an unmedicated labor, and the most essential element of her birth plan was unexpectedly not available. Plans changed, but by the end of that long day, they had a healthy baby boy.

So, what point does this story have for our expectant parents? First—what you already knew—it is not really possible to write a script for your unique labor and birth experience. When unexpected situations arise, your birth plan helps us to communicate as a team with the same primary goals:  a healthy mom and a healthy baby. But there are several other reasons to consider a birth plan.

5 More Reasons to Have a Birth Plan:

  1. You will learn a lot about the birthing experience when you give careful thought to your preferences.
    • Be assured, you will NOT discover that Brookwood cannot support your anesthesia choice! We have an anesthesia team dedicated exclusively to childbirth services. In fact, Brookwood was recently named one of America’s best maternity hospitals in 2022 by Newsweek Magazine. It was the only hospital in Alabama to achieve this honor.
    • As you read about the birth process and ask questions, you can get a better understanding about why we may recommend certain interventions if your baby is not cooperating with the plan. You will be more prepared to discuss the benefits and risks of any intervention with your doctor.
    • Our Birth Planning 101 and 102 program was designed to help you to learn about your pregnancy, labor, and delivery. By the time you have completed the second individual session with your doctor’s RN, you will probably have identified some personal preferences that may make up your birth plan.
  2. It’s a chance for a good discussion with your partner or support person.
    • How do each of you feel about the choices you will make together? Does your partner know which parts of your birth plan are most important to you?
    • Occasionally a mom tells us she was surprised to learn that dad really did not want to cut the umbilical cord!
  3. You may discover some questions you want to discuss with your doctor at your prenatal appointments.
    • By talking through your concerns ahead of time, we will better understand how to reassure you and increase your confidence in our care. We can discuss options available during the laboring process and why some are more recommended than others.
    • We encourage you to view your birth plan as a flexible guide. If your labor does not proceed as you hoped, you will be more prepared to understand our recommendations and feel comfortable with your decisions.
  4. As a practical matter, your birth plan will communicate your wishes to your nurse and your primary doctor’s partners who may be on call when you are in labor.
    • We encourage you to meet each of our physicians during your pregnancy by scheduling some of your prenatal appointments with your primary OB’s partners.
    • We do not share call with other groups, so one of the five of us will be available when you are in labor.
  5. Finally, the choices you make will help you feel more in control of the physical and emotional stages of your labor. We hope discussing parts of your birth plan in advance will help you feel more prepared for changes if your labor does not progress as you hoped and more pleased with your childbirth experience overall.

The Big Picture:

From the beginning of labor to the moment you hold your infant against your skin, the event you awaited and planned for becomes a memory in usually less than 24 hours. No matter the path by which your baby entered the world, you now begin a lifetime of new plans and likely some worries for the little life that snuggles in your arms. Your doctors share your hope that the experience of bringing your child into the world will be satisfying, and above all, that the outcome will be good health for both mother and baby.