A mother and father hold their newborn baby's feet.
A birth plan is a great way to determine your labor and delivery needs—but be open to last-minute changes. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

What’s one of the most important words for labor, delivery and parenthood?


You may wonder why you need to be flexible.

Let’s start with labor. Do you have a birth plan? What’s a birth plan, and what is it good for? A birth plan is a plan of things you’d like during labor and delivery.

When I talk with new moms, most don’t realize they have choices, or they don’t understand the choices that they do have. These choices can be everything, from what position they would like to be in during labor, to how involved they want their coach to be at the time of delivery.

Birth plans at Spectrum Health are given out in our offices when the mom is about 32-34 weeks along.

If you opt to take any of our childbirth classes, we review the birth plan with you in detail.

But even with the birth plan itself, you’ll need to be flexible.

Babies rarely come on their due date (only about 3-5 percent), so you need to be flexible to the fact that full-term babies may come two weeks before to two weeks after your due date.

But I’m thinking more of the labor process.

You definitely should have a plan, but remember you won’t know ahead of time what will help you the most. So, be flexible.

Coaches, meanwhile, can be flexible by giving mom options during labor:

  • Would you like to walk in the hall?
  • Would you like to get in the Jacuzzi? Sit on the birth ball?
  • How about listening to music?

Remember: As labor progresses, you might also need to be flexible. Maybe you want your back, feet or head rubbed. Then you might want the massage to stop, yet after a couple contractions, you want the rub againBe flexible!

I recently had a Type A personality mom who had her labor and delivery all planned out. But when the day came, it didn’t go as planned. A health condition compelled doctors to induce labor.

She was at her due date, but she needed to be flexible because this induction wasn’t what she originally expected.

It all worked out great, but she mentioned to me afterward she had to be “flexible.”

Most women need some variety in labor, so be sure to fill out your birth plan, prepare ahead—and be flexible!

You’ll also learn that being flexible is a must for parenting, but we’ll talk about that another time.