Hillary Robinowitz-Elins, MD, is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology. She is medical director of obstetrics and gynecology at Inova Medical Group – Shirlington. She also serves as assistant professor for Georgetown University School of Medicine and clinical professor for The University of Virginia. Read Dr. Robinowitz-Elins’ profile.
In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit to being a Type A personality (control freak) who sincerely believed that I could do anything if I just persevered. I was a full believer that when I was ready, I would have children – and with good planning and organization it would go smoothly. (If you read that last statement, and you have children, you are laughing at my innocence.)
Second part of full-disclosure: I am an OB/GYN and have seen all sides of pregnancy and childbirth, so I wasn’t ignorant to the process. I really believed I could control this process for myself. Again, if you have children, you are snickering now.
I first really saw the birth plan in action when I began my time as an attending in the Air Force. I found these statements of female power to range from straightforward outlines of the individual’s expectations to novels describing every detail. My favorite included the time of day the baby should be born and then held up “Lion King”-style at time of delivery.
A Pregnant Dictator
All right, my inner-control-freak said, I will research the birth plan and formulate the right direction for myself. I found out birth plans started as a way to help fathers become familiar with the process, as they had been relegated to the waiting room with cigars for years. Birth plans were never intended to become a directive for delivery, but here we are and I was pretty excited to let my control-freak flag fly.
Just to be clear, I was thinking about this before I was actually pregnant, so I would be prepared. My plan was pretty simple. It included who I wanted in the room, from staff to family. I was clear that while I would like to go natural, I realized I would probably have to be induced due to pre-existing medical conditions. If I needed the epidural I would decide the time and who placed it. Have you noticed all the “I’s” yet? I was clearly running this show like a little pregnant dictator who wasn’t even pregnant.
I secretly dreamed about this well-controlled, seamless event that I have seen many mothers under my care perform with grace. Funny, I forgot at the time those mothers didn’t seem to have birth plans…Oh well, I was ready.
Time to get pregnant and wouldn’t you know, it wasn’t super easy as planned. Okay, my control freak managed to sort it out without IVF. I was still en route to my perfect birth plan. Cue to dramatic music at my first ultrasound. The poor young woman who was my ultrasound tech is probably deaf from hearing my insane scream complete with new forms of profanity.
I made her get the radiologist, who was a lovely man – I had just delivered his wife’s 7th or 8th baby! He didn’t get upset until I screamed, “Is that mother-$%&%&% triplets?” He tried to reassure me, but my inner control-freak lashed out and screamed, “I’m a mini-breed, and this is a litter for a golden retriever!”
The truth of the matter was that I saw all my dreams of birth plans and a perfect pregnancy flying away. I had somehow forgotten that I wasn’t going to be in control of any part of this, because the person – or in my case persons – in charge didn’t speak or write birth plans.
The Best Birth Plan Ever Written
In truth, I don’t think I realized until many months after their birth how little control I had in their way into this world. While their birth is another blog altogether, I learned hard truths regarding birth plans:
- All of us OB/GYN’s, midwives and others who help babies into the world believe in the strength of women – and that the longer the birth plan, the shorter the time to cesarean section. (Seriously, we could do a study.)
- The best birth plan ever written is, “I want to have a healthy baby and be a healthy Mom.” The end.
- The most important part of your delivery will never read your plan or care whether the right music played or if you had an epidural. Your child (or children) will dominate your control freak for years to come and will be the deciding factor in all things, starting at delivery.