Do you wonder if your birth plans will be respected?

You are not alone. Most women don't have the birth experience that they spent so much time planning. When they get to the hospital or birth center, their personal ideas about labor and delivery are often ignored, and they get caught up in the hospital routine. It doesn't have to be this way.

Women read childbirth books and believe they have so many choices - and they do in theory - but in practice - poof! Their birth plans don't seem to fit with how hospitals and doctors are practicing. With nearly a third of births being cesareans now, with two-thirds of women receiving epidurals, and at least a quarter of women being induced, it seems like these birth plans belong to somebody else. The gap is getting wider between what women are expecting and what hospitals are providing. Thus, their birth plans - what women expect to occur during labor and delivery - are often not feasible in either the hospital or birth center environment.

Does this mean that women just have to give in and accept what they get? Not necessarily. The good news is that hospitals, and birthing centers, have a wide variety of approaches to childbirth, and that most women have some choice in where they deliver. The difficulty is that women don't know how to tell hospitals apart.

So many women are frustrated with their childbirth choices. They feel that they can't get the hospital system to work for them, and yet going outside the system is often not an option. This makes women feel both physically and emotionally vulnerable, unable to speak up and be heard regarding their needs.

You may not be able to predict everything that will happen to you in childbirth, but you can certainly check to see how a childbirth facility will respond to very common situations, and if it is a safe and accommodating place to have your baby.

Do you want to know specific actions you can take before you deliver? Sign up for free tips sent to your e-mail, or check the Learn about the E-Book tab above.