All of the pregnancy books tell you to come up with a birth plan so that you know exactly what you want to do when the time comes.
I’ll admit, the thought of a birth plan was a little daunting to me. This was my first pregnancy and I had no idea what to expect from a labor and delivery experience. I was afraid to plan it all out because that meant I had to really think about it ahead of time. My doctor asked me about it during one of my late third trimester appointments. When I said I didn’t really have one, but I knew I wanted an epidural, she just chuckled and said it was probably a good thing. The people who come in with a three-page birth plan, for example, are often disappointed because things never seem to go exactly as planned.
I went in knowing that I wanted an epidural and a vaginal delivery. That was the extent of my birth plan, and I thought of it as very relaxed and “go-with-the-flow.” Hubster can attest to my laid-back approach – I even allowed him to watch the NFL draft on ESPN while I was in labor!
As it turns out, I was not quite as “go-with-the-flow” about everything as I thought.
After 16 hours of laboring in the hospital (preceded by 3 days of early labor at home) and 1.5 hours of pushing, the on-call OBGYN broke the news that I would require a cesarean delivery. I immediately burst into tears. I had only wanted two things out of my birth experience, and a c-section was NOT one of them. I thought about the surgery, the longer recovery time, the fact that I would need c-sections with any future deliveries. I felt like I had failed by not being able to deliver my son vaginally. I had pushed for 1.5 hours, to no avail. Why couldn’t I do it? It was devastating.
Nearly three weeks later, I have the gift of hindsight. In retrospect, my c-section was not a terrible thing. Our little C is here, and he is perfect. My incision is healing very well. Even though I went through surgery, I have TONS more energy than I had at the end of my pregnancy. I was worried about losing weight because I would be less active, but I’ve lost all but 6 pounds of my baby weight already. Yes, I have a long way to go before my incision and abdominal muscles totally heal. Yes, I will need to have a cesarean with my future kids; but on the bright side, I will never need to experience a painful labor again.
While I have been reflecting on this topic myself, I also feel there are additional reasons to blog about it. I have a few friends and family members who are expecting and will be thinking about their birth plans soon. I’ve also seen birth plans mentioned by several people I follow on Twitter. Even though I was pretty laid back about my birth plan, I still was devastated when things didn’t go as I had hoped. I really want to encourage women to go in with a plan of what they would prefer to happen, but to also be open to the very realistic possibility that events could happen that will change that plan. I don’t want anyone to feel like they have failed their baby or themselves because things didn’t go as planned.
If you don’t want drugs, but find you need them – you are NOT a failure. Labor and delivery HURTS. It’s okay to need medication to be more comfortable.
If you need pitocin to move things along – you are NOT a failure.
If your doctor needs to use forceps or a vacuum to assist in your delivery – you are NOT a failure. Your doctor does this all the time and feels that it’s best for your baby to get out faster with assistance.
If you need to have a cesarean – you are NOT a failure.
Events occur during pregnancy, labor and delivery that you may or may not anticipate, but that’s okay. You are giving LIFE, and that is an amazing thing. How your baby arrives here does not matter a day, a week, or a year later. You’ve carried, nourished and given life to a little person. That’s all that is important in the end.