Decision Tree: Because Life Doesn’t Go According to Plan

Raise your hand if you were told something about parenting “would just come naturally”. I think as parents, we all agree that most of it didn’t just immediately upload to our brain once we found out we were pregnant, let alone once our baby arrived. Am I right?

Plan Decision Tree for Success


decision tree

I think one of my favorite takeaways from the birthing class I attended was that you should have more of a birthing decision tree than a birthing plan. The problem is that when our brains hear the word “plan”, we tend to assume it is set in stone and we absolutely have to stick to it. Giving myself the grace to realize this was my first time giving birth and experiencing most of these emotions and physical tests. This gave me the permission to release this vision of a “perfect birth” in my head.

Spoiler alert, the perfect birth doesn’t exist.

What is a Decision Tree?

A decision tree is much more like a flow chart that helps you think out all the possible outcomes of a situation. It helped me realize all the decisions I felt would be bigger turning points in my birth story. For example, I gave myself levels of pain that I would be able to check-in with myself and determine whether I could proceed with or without the help of medications. From working in the healthcare industry, I also knew what medications I was okay with receiving and which ones were just not an option. Remember: sometimes ruling out options is helpful too.

I did really well in planning to give my mind and body some grace since I had never been through this experience. The only thing I would have changed is knowing how and when to advocate for myself and my baby. If it’s your first birth, or anything really, you have to remember that old, somewhat cheesy, saying. “You don’t know what you don’t know.”

Seek to understand and educate yourself for the best responses.

As adults, none of us like to feel like someone is questioning our authority or expertise. So, I found it most helpful to make sure I was framing my questions in a way that still supported that my provider was the expert and that I just wanted more knowledge on why I was making each of the decisions. Ultimately, I felt like educating myself on the steps and possible choices for my birth empowered me to advocate for myself and my baby each step of the way.

Where I WISH I had made a Decision Tree

I wish I had thought to make a postpartum Decision Tree. Books and friends can only tell you so much of what to expect before, during, and after birth. I think having a decision tree on breastfeeding would have helped me stress a little bit less about feeding my baby. I did eventually make one, but I think I could have relieved some of the pressure I put on myself postpartum if I had a Decision Tree in the back of my head.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by having a brand new infant, know that you do NOT walk alone. There are some really good resources out there that just aren’t talked about enough. If you’re feeling you need some support for your mental health, there is Postpartum Support International, 800-944-4PPD (4773). Remember that there are support groups right here in Eastern Iowa whether it’s through Cedar Rapids Moms and our events or the many online groups we have.

Keep giving yourself permission to make the necessary decisions.

Now, as a mom of toddlers, I find myself constantly making Decision Trees for the scenarios that occur. We definitely can’t predict everything, but having a Decision Tree in my mind empowers me in the decisions I make as a mom.

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