Common Labour Mistakes – Part 1

While working and training as a midwife I’ve had the pleasure of working with hundreds of clients throughout their pregnancy, labour and postpartum. As a primary maternity care provider I’ve witnessed the amazing power and strength of people during this journey. However, I have also seen mistakes that lead people down a path of intervention and disappointment. So let’s talk about common labour mistakes and how to avoid them.

Mistake 1: Exhaustive birth plan

When a client comes in with a lengthy birth plan I cringe. As much as I value planning, organization and preparation, a long birth plan usually ends in disappointment. Why? Because often there are many things on that birth plan that are beyond the client’s control and trying to micromanage a labour usually doesn’t work out.

There are three issues that come along with an exhaustive birth plan:

  1. You don’t have a birth team you trust to have your best interest at heart and advocate for you
  2. You haven’t communicated your requests to your birth team
  3. You haven’t accepted that some things are beyond your control


Planning is a good thing, it shows  autonomy. Ideally, when you discuss your birth plan with your primary care provider, most things on the list are already part of routine care. More often than not, as client’s discussed their birth plan I was able to tell them about routine midwifery care and hospital policies that aligned with their plan. Things like no unnecessary interventions, delayed cord clamping and uninterrupted skin to skin after the birth are all part of routine midwifery care. Usually by the time we get through the list there are only a few items that remain. If you feel this will not be the case with your care provider, start discussing your birth plan early so you have time to work through it together. If you feel like your plan needs to go exactly as written, try to identify items that are out of your control and remove them from your list.

A birth plan actually starts long before you write out a list. It starts when you choose your primary care provider and begin building your birth team. These decisions affect how any birth plan plays out. Things like respect and high quality care should be an essential part of the care everyone gets, your birth plan is your preference list that everyone in your birth environment should be working towards. Birth plans are good, but don’t use them as a score sheet to determine your satisfaction with the birth process.

Check back for part 2 where we’ll discuss the timing of going to the hospital when you’re in labour and more!

By: Althea Jones, registered midwife

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