"Birth plans are cursed." If you work in birth in any capacity, I can almost promise that you've heard this phrase at some point. I have long been intrigued by the notion that a piece of paper could hold so much power. If we're being rational, we can probably agree that this is one of the biggest fallacies and misused phrases in the birth world. So, let's stop saying birth plans are cursed.
First off, I want to address why I believe we say birth plans are cursed.
Essentially, it's tied to the fact that people working in birth really do care about birthing women. We all care about the family's wishes. We care about the way families are treated and made to feel. And, of course, we care about outcomes that include healthy moms and healthy babies.
When we care deeply about the work that we do and the people we serve, there is a sense of grief when things do not turn out the way the family had planned. Their disappointments become our disappointments, because we are invested in helping them achieve their goals.
According to Brene Brown, what happens when things don't go our way is that we have to blame something so that we can maintain some "semblance of control" in a world where uncontrollable things happen.
In birth, so many things just happen... and there is no one to blame. But, our human nature makes us blame something in order to help us wrap our minds around the situation and find reasoning for things that just happen. Even if it means blaming a piece a paper with the words "Birth Plan" at the top.
It is very easy to blame an inanimate object. I mean, it's a lot easier to blame the birth plan than it is to blame a real life person with actual feelings. It satisfies the need to blame without hurting anyone, right?
ARE BIRTH PLANS REALLY CURSED?
Most rational people would agree that, in reality, the notion of there being a real "curse" is just absurd. But, we use the phrase "birth plans are cursed" or "the curse of the birth plan" in order to satisfy our need to blame - even though (or especially because) no one is at fault.
Here is what I can tell you with absolute certainty - birth plans are NOT cursed. We do not live in a fantasy world where hobbits toss gold rings into firey pits to save the world. And, we do not live in a world where a piece of paper has the power to send a woman's birth plan into a spiral.
A piece of paper cannot cause any of the following:
premature rupture of the membranes
stubborn cervical lips
And some may disagree with this notion, but they don't cause stubborn, dramatic patients either.
A lack of birth plan will also not prevent any of these things from happening.
If we believe that planning and preparing for childbirth in some way leads to problems, then we must also believe that NOT planning for birth creates positive outcomes and experiences. If that were the case, then the things on the list above would almost never happen... because really, how many women actually walk into the hospital with a birth plan?
The truth is, these things can just happen. Sometimes there is a discernible reason. Or several. And sometimes (or a LOT of the time) there isn't. It just happens.
I suggest that we stop saying birth plans are cursed. Blaming the birth plan doesn't do much, but allow us to discharge our emotions, and discourage women from being educated. A birth plan can be powerful, but it is not a birthy horcrux. Let's discharge our emotions through love. I believe that love is spelled E.M.P.A.T.H.Y.
Empathy is always the key. Let's empathize with the women who researched birth and did their very best to put together a plan to help themselves and their babies have a happy birth day. Validate their feelings. They are allowed to feel the way they feel when birth doesn't go as planned. Wanting to make healthy, safe choices for your family should not be viewed as a curse, but as the most loving of gestures.
Birth plans are not cursed. When they are reasonable, flexible and well thought-out, they can be wonderful communication tools to help families have positive birth experiences. Let's stop saying birth plans are cursed.