When Your Birth Plan Doesn’t Go As Planned

Pregnancy can be full of surprises.  Having a birth plan can help provide a sense of calm and control. But sometimes, despite our best laid plans, life can take unexpected turns. So, what should you do when your birth plan doesn’t go as planned?  In this article, we share personal advice from a new mom and Axia Women’s Health patient on things to consider when forming a birth plan and how to cope if you have an unexpected birth experience.


Educate Yourself

As you put together your birth plan it is important to research and educate yourself on the various birth options. There is a lot to consider from birth positions to pain relief medications, to different medical interventions (such as an episiotomy, assisted birth, or caesarean). Learning what options are available to you will help you make the best decisions for you and your baby and be better prepared if you need to adjust your birth plan.

Share Your Plan

After researching and putting together your birth plan, be sure to share this with your partner and your Axia Women’s Health provider. It is best to discuss your plan with your provider before your due date. This will help you communicate your needs clearly and create an open dialogue with your provider. As you share your birth plan, it’s important to also be open to the suggestions shared by your provider. Their top priority is ensuring the safety of you and your baby.

“My Axia provider was very supportive as I presented my desires and plans for birth. He explored all of my ideas with my husband and me and offered additional suggestions. He explained everything very clearly and answered all my questions in detail. We felt heard and educated on our birth decisions,” shares Paige C., an Axia Women’s Health patient.

Be Flexible

Birth plans are beneficial and can help you communicate your needs and desires with your partner and healthcare team. However, as much as your birth plan can help you feel in control, it is best to remember that your plan should be flexible and viewed more as a set of preferences.

“As I reached week 40 and my due date had come and gone, I knew my birth plan would need to shift. My provider reassured me that he would do his best to still give me the birth I envisioned. He continued to talk us through our options and educated us as we began to update the plan. I always felt supported and cared for,” adds Paige.

Focus On The Outcome and Trust Your Body

If your birth plan begins to shift, it’s important to take a deep breath, trust your healthcare team, and know that whatever way you bring a baby into this world is okay. The most important outcome is that mom and baby are both healthy. As always, you know your body best, and if something feels off be sure to speak up. Your mommy instinct kicks in quickly!

“In the delivery room as my labor progressed, my Axia provider walked me through everything that he was doing and what was happening with me and my baby. I felt confident staying informed and knowing everything that was happening.

It was a long labor, and my provider came in to check on me three different times throughout the day and helped ease my fears. My birth ultimately ended in an emergency Cesarean section and my provider rushed to be by my side.

I feel so blessed that my provider made it in time for my birth. He reassured me and talked me through everything he was doing. After my delivery, my provider stayed in the room with me and made sure I was comfortable. I realized I was a lot stronger than I thought, and although my birth plan didn’t go according to plan, I felt so lucky to have a healthy baby.”

If you are currently struggling with a birth that didn’t go as planned, remember you are not alone. Every birth experience is different, and it’s not your fault if it wasn’t what you envisioned.  Below are some strategies that may be helpful as you continue to process the experience.


Talk to your partner, family member, friend or provider: A lot can happen while you are in the different stages of labor. Talking with a loved one or your trusted provider can help you process your emotions and come to terms with the details of your birth experience. Journaling may also help you express your feelings.

Take time to recover: Your body and your emotions experience a lot of change during and after giving birth. It’s important to let your body rest and recover for the first 6-8 weeks. For some, the recovery time may be longer. Remember to be patient and kind to yourself. It is okay if you feel overwhelmed with emotions. It’s important to recognize those emotions and allow yourself the time to process and work through them.

Seek help when needed: If you continue to struggle with your birth experience there are multiple resources available to support you. There are local and online support groups that focus on failed birth plans and birth trauma. Websites like Postpartum Support International can help you find support groups tailored to your experience. There is strength and support in connecting with a community.


In some cases, it may also be helpful to speak with a licensed mental health counselor. At Axia Women’s Health, we now offer counseling and behavioral health services in a confidential, convenient environment for our patients. A mental health professional can help you process the complex emotions you may be feeling.  Depending on the feelings and symptoms you’re experiencing, there are a variety of therapeutic approaches that can help from talk therapy to cognitive behavioral therapy, to medication.

Many women have experienced birth plans that didn’t go according to plan. Be kind to yourself and remember that it isn’t your fault if things don’t go as planned. If you are still struggling with your birth experience and it is affecting your mental health, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for help. You are not alone. Your Axia Women’s Health provider is here to support you not only through the pregnancy and birth, but the critical postpartum period as well.

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