Oh, the birth plan. While we all know that you can’t really plan how your childbirth is going to go, you’ll find that most hospitals/OBs/midwifes/doulas encourage you to write out your birth preferences (or at least they do in San Francisco). Some people get REALLY into their birth plan, stating what kind of lighting they would like, the music they want, the tone of voice they would like to be spoken to in, etc. etc. It can get pretty nuts. But really, the main point of the birth plan is to provide quick and easy access to important health info that your medical records might not provide, such as your stance on pain medication, who is going to cut the cord, who will be with you in the room in the event of a cesarean, circumcision, bathing the baby… things like that.
My ideal birth plan looks just like the clip above.
In What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Brooklyn Decker simply sneezes and out pops a baby!
And obviously I’m going to look exactly like that while giving birth.
With less than a week to go until my due date, a lot of people seem to be asking me about my birth plan and sharing their opinions with me. People without kids ask if I’m scared and launch into some horrible story they heard about someone. People who had an epidural tell me it was fabulous. And people who went pain med free tell me that going all natural is the best thing I can do for myself and my baby.
After A LOT of talking and reading and researching, after taking classes and really going somewhat crazy with all the information there is out there regarding childbirth and labor, my birth plan pretty much comes down to this:
Do my best, try my hardest, and be okay if things don’t go as ideally as I had originally hoped they would.
Obviously I’ve put a lot more thought into it than that (Kevin and I have created a nice long document that includes all sorts of relevant information), but really, ultimately, my birth plan is just to do my best and not beat myself up over it when or if things don’t go as planned. I know girls that have been so anti-epidural and then tortured themselves with guilt over the fact that they “caved in” and got an epidural, or women that have been so incredibly depressed that their birth experience resulted in a c-section. Birth is hugely important, and while I completely understand being disappointed when it doesn’t go as you had hoped it would, the last thing I need is to enter into parenthood already feeling guilty. I am no stranger to anxiety, so I really have to work at not letting my anxiety and fears take over, or for my emotions to catapult downward in a spiral of negativity.
So, I am going to try my best, and be okay with whatever happens after that. In San Francisco, natural childbirth is all the rage. Natural childbirth seems to have become synonymous with empowerment, and I find that when I admit to being open to getting an epidural people generally launch into a speech about why epidurals are bad and why I should really try my best to go medication free.
These comments don’t come from people looking to be rude – they are all well meaning, but their casual mention of how epidurals “drug your baby” or lead to a cascade of interventions, or that “women have been doing this for thousands of years without pain meds, you can too!” don’t really help me. They just leave me feeling wimpy and disheartened. In my birth class I was the only person that admitted to being open to pain medication, and I felt like such an outcast because of it. I’ve done all the research. I know the pros and cons of both. And most importantly, I know myself.
And the thing is, I don’t like pain. From what I’ve been told, childbirth can be horribly, terribly, mind blowingly painful. So while I am totally open to having a natural birth and would be thrilled if it turns out that my pain threshold is much higher than I am imagining it to be, I also know that having a super painful birth experience could be more traumatic for me than empowering.
I have tried to get on the totally natural bandwagon. I really have. I’ve read all the recommended books. I got a doula. I went to the crunchy birth class instead of taking one at my hospital. I’ve read story after story about natural births, and I admit – some of them seem great! But others… not so much. In the holy grail of natural birthing books, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, there are a lot of stories from women who talk about having a blast during labor. These women write about making out with their husband between contractions, laughing hysterically, and just having an overall great time. They describe their birth as basically painless and just slightly uncomfortable, and that sounds awesome! If that’s the case, then sign me up!
But alongside those stories there are the those from women who say the pain was so bad that they lost their mind and blacked out. Women who thought they were dying and screamed in ways they didn’t know they could scream. And while all of these women still say natural childbirth was an amazing and empowering experience, their stories scare me. One woman said the pain got so intense that she became animalistic and actually bit her husband and tried to bite her midwife!
I don’t want to go through pain so intense that I end up biting someone without meaning to. That does not sound empowering to me. That sounds horrifying and gives me anxiety that I don’t need.
So I am going to try my best, and if my best means I need an epidural, then I’m getting an epidural. And if things don’t go as planned, I am going to be as zen about it as possible. I hope that none of these things happen. I really hope that I don’t have to get induced, and I really really hope that I don’t end up having to get a c-section. But if I do, that’s okay too. The health of my baby and myself is the most important thing, and ultimately how I get there doesn’t really matter.
We all have our own mountains to conquer and if for you that’s natural childbirth, more power to you! But that is not my mountain. I don’t feel the need to withstand an extraordinary level of pain in order to feel empowered. I’m still finding it pretty empowering that somehow, without me doing a whole lot, my body has managed to grow a human being! So as long as I come home with a husband that loves me and a healthy baby, it doesn’t really matter to me how I get there.
For those of you mamas out there or mamas to be, did/do you have a birth plan? Did your birth experience live up to your expectations?
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