The Birth Plan (and Why I’ll Never Have One Again)

There are some things that are very worthy of setting clear goals.

Take, for example, a weight loss or fitness regimen. This is something that can be broken down into achievable steps. It’s quantifiable. You write down what your goal is, look at it for inspiration every day, do certain things each day that will lead you in that direction, and VOILA. You end up there. At your Goal. Go You!

But having a kid—as in, squeezing a living and breathing, tiny human into the world through sheer guts (ooooh, lotsa guts) and force—in my humble opinion, does not fall into that category.

Let’s consider the theory.

Birthing a real, live human being (and I’m not talking about a scheduled C-section, which, more power to you if that was your route) requires the confluence of a whole hell of a lot of things. In the most un-medical of terms, I will sum it up as such: The parts gotta move apart so the kid can get out. And if those any of those parts stall—even partly (haha)—it can set into motion things that take a nine-month-pregnant-belly-sized wrecking ball to your plan for bringing your little angel into the world.

Most moms I know who are on baby number two or beyond have reached the same conclusion on a birth plan: Just get the baby out.

As for me, all I wanted with my first labor was to hold off on the epidural for as long as possible and to avoid a C-section, if possible. So I studied HynoBirthing and had all my breathing techniques and visualization down. And then, after months of studying, at my last session, my doula told me the news: She was going on a Mexican vacation the week before my due date. I haven’t been on a vacation for years, she said, and I couldn’t pass it up. And then, but don’t worryfirst-time moms rarely go into labor before their due date.


Of COURSE I went into labor early. Of COURSE it happened at work. And of COURSE it happened a full week early, which meant my darling doula was luxuriating on the white sands of Playa Far-away-a as I huffed and puffed through the early stages of labor, with no expert to turn to for support on all the precious guided breathing exercises I had worked so hard to master.

Then there was the epidural that wore off, the pushing when I shouldn’t have been, the debate on my dilation that I viewed through my kneecaps (that means what you think it means), and THEN emergency C-section. And that was all after I labored for 33 hours.

Cheers to the beautiful birthing experience!

My perfect son was healthy, though, and honest to God, that is all that mattered. I did, however, mourn not having the experience I expected, and it was something that took a lot of talking to get through. And I know it’s that way for other moms who have had similarly unexpected things happen during their labors.

But I’m not saying there’s no value in planning. There are some things to consider–the most important of which, in my opinion, is to talk with the birth coordinator at your hospital or birth center. Give them an idea of what an ideal birth would be for you. What does the room look like–bright or low lights? What does it sound like? Music (if possible) or TV playing, or total quiet? Are you standing or walking through the early stages of labor, or are you going to get in the room and immediately lie down? Do you want an epidural? If so, do you want it as soon as possible, or only after you’ve progressed a bit? Who, if anyone, do you want in the room with you during slower labor, and then when things get intense? How many times do you want to be able to punch your partner for putting you on this position in the first place? I kid. Kinda. But seriously, these are the things to consider. These are the only things you can control. And even then, it’s not going to be how you picture it.

To do what you can, then to relinquish it to the experts and let it go: THIS is the only 100% reliable birth plan.

And also, don’t work with a doula who’s overdue for vacation. Yep. That’s a good tip too.

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