This Doctor Mocked A Woman’s Birth Plan And The Internet Is Not Impressed

A doctor has been criticised for sharing a woman's birth plan online.

Pregnant woman birth plan

by Grazia Contributor |
Updated on

As if pregnant women didn't have enough to contend with when preparing to give birth, they now risk being ridiculed online.

This was the case when an anonymous woman shared a picture of her birth plan, asking if there was anything she had missed. A US doctor posted the birth plan on X/Twitter with the caption 'this baby might not make it out of the hospital.' Naturally, the post generated some backlash. One user, on reading the post, wrote ‘The irony is that mocking a mother’s request for a physiological birth like this actually pushes more women away from hospital settings. If you actually cared about outcomes, you would be more sensitive to accommodating these desires while preserving access to acute care.’

Another user wrote that the tweet ‘concerns’ her, adding ‘These are all reasonable desires that can and should be honored if it is safe. Rather than rejecting birth plans we should be developing them with birthing people. This is a great opportunity to discuss how to handle complications if they occur. My birth plans were not much different and my physician made every decision with me. Both of my babies are beautiful adults now.’

After spotting the tweet, author Milli Hill shared a post on her Substack The Mule detailing why it’s problematic for people to mock women’s birth plans. In the UK, every expectant mother is entitled to a birth plan, which details how you want the birth to go, who's going to be with you during the birth and things you want to avoid, such as epidurals. Of course, there are times when labour doesn't go as expected, but as Milli points out, birth plans are still a crucial way for women to feel like they are in control.

'Firstly, the idea that birth plans are ‘pointless’ is not the case. It is never ‘pointless’ to spend time learning about your options and thinking about how you would like things to go, whether you are planning a party or having major surgery,' she writes.

Milli acknowledges this isn't the first time that birth plans have been ridiculed - both on social media and in popular culture. She references a passage from Adam Kay’s bestselling memoir This Is Going To Hurt, which reads ‘Patient HJ needs an emergency caesarean section for failure to progress in labour. This has not come as a surprise. When I met her on admission, she presented me with her nine-page birth plan, in full colour and laminated…Two centuries of obstetricians have found no way of predicting the course of a labour, but a certain denomination of floaty-dressed mother seems to think she can manage it easily.’

She also shares how Meghan Markle, who was rumoured to be considering a natural birth, was ‘laughed about by a whole conference room of doctors’ in 2019. According to the Daily Mail, one of the doctors, Dr. Timothy Draycott, envoy of the Royal College of Gynecology, said ‘Meghan Markle has decided she's going to have a doula and a willow tree...let's see how that goes,’ to a room full of laughs. He added ‘She’s 37, first birth… I don’t know.’

Meghan was later criticised for appointing her own female gynaecologist instead of giving birth under the care of Royal Household Gynaecologists. But when it comes to a vulnerable moment like childbirth, isn't it only natural to want the people you feel most comfortable with in the room?

All this indicates how pregnant women continue to be treated with a lack of respect, both inside and outside the delivery room. Research by the Care Quality Commission released earlier this year found a ‘concerning decline’ in women’s experience with maternity services. They found that 63% of women felt they were always able to get help during labour and birth compared with 72% in 2019, while about 77% said that if they raised a concern during labour and birth, they felt it was taken seriously, down from 81% in 2017. It also showed that 41% of women felt that their partners had been able to be with them as much as they wanted after giving birth – prompting a charity to call for a change in policy.

As these alarming figures show, there is an urgent need for women to feel in control of their birth, whatever that might look like. You should be allowed to write a detailed birth plan without fear of being mocked or judged for your choices. The same goes if you choose not to have one at all. Because, isn't having a baby hard enough as it is?

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