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On the Importance and Unimportance of Birth Plans

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The closer I get to giving birth, the more people ask me about the birth plan. Hospital or home birth? Who will be in the room? Will I get an epidural? Will I play music, or meditate or just scream like a spider monkey? The casual way people ask these questions, it’s like they are simple decisions that just happen to have enormous implications. At the same time, it seems like most people also chime in at some point to remind me that once I’m in active labor, all of these plans will go out the window. So why all this focus on a birth plan in the first place?
My answer is that, in reality, a birth plan has very little to do with planning what is actually going to happen in the delivery room. Because no matter how you slice it, giving birth is scary. It hurts, and it’s risky and foreign, especially for a first-time mom like me. Having a birth plan is about feeling like you have some semblance of premeditated control over what is going to happen during that scary, foreign process. And talking about that plan with the people around you is about letting them in to your fear and uncertainty, and allowing them the space to remind you that whatever you choose, whatever actually happens, you will be okay.

Erin Bowling holds a Masters in Folklore, blogs casually, and can bake a wicked batch of cookies.

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