I personally hate the term “birth plan.” I love the concept of a birth plan, don’t get me wrong, but I hate the focus on “plan.” To me, a “plan” seems rigid, unadaptable. If you make a plan and can’t follow it, you’re more likely to walk away feeling like you’re failed. A preference, though … a preference leaves less on the table. You acknowledge that you would like to do things a certain way, without placing every egg (or embryo or fetus, as it were) in that basket.
I learned a very important lesson about planning last week, and that’s that even the best-laid (birth) plans often fall to shit.
(wasn’t that what Robert Burns poignantly wrote?)
That doesn’t mean that you don’t plan at all, though. You don’t avoid what you want because there’s a possibility you might not get it. We’d never see outdoor weddings if people avoided them because it might rain. I still have an idea of how I’d like for things to happen, and I want my preferences to be known, even if they can’t be accommodated.
(again, as a note — this is assuming nothing is deemed medically necessary. while obnoxious at times, I’m not arrogant enough to believe I know better than the doctor delivering our baby. if she tells me I need to receive something not on the list, or that I can’t keep moving around, I trust her)
In a perfect world, as it stands right now, here is what would happen:
I would labor and deliver as naturally as possible, unmedicated.
For me, this includes (unless medically necessary):
- my water breaking naturally;
- no membrane sweep;
- no Pitocin;
- no epidural; and
- no induction.
**and no un-solicited offering of epidural. believe you me, if I want it, I’ll ask!
Look, here’s the thing. The great thing about preferences versus plans is that preferences can change. If I get into the weeds and decide to go the epidural route, I will. This is not about my pride or my ego or a need to feel superiority or smugness.
Here’s what it is about.
I’m incredibly grateful to have been given this opportunity, and I’m not guaranteed the chance to ever do it again. I’d love to have more; I’m simply not sure that it will be an option (note: I have no reason to think I couldn’t right now, but I don’t want to take anything for granted). Because of that, I want to experience every single second in as much color and raw intensity as I can. I don’t want to treat childbirth as an illness that needs to be healed or fixed. I don’t want it to be numbed and I don’t want to forget it. If this is to be my only child, I want to feel it all.
From everything I’ve read about unmedicated births, you get such a rush of endorphins and adrenaline that it actually helps you heal, and you experience a euphoria that is unlike anything I’ve ever heard of. I’d like that experience. Maybe that’s all of my mushy-gushy lovey crunchy hormones talking. Maybe all the hormonal surges have finally kicked me over the edge, but God help me, this is what I want to do. But if I can’t, or if I choose not to, then I won’t. And I move along with my (God willing) healthy baby and I don’t think twice about it. This isn’t a judgment on medicine … it’s just a preference of mine. Nothing more, nothing else.
However. To those who ask whether a pregnant woman is planning on an epidural, and then, when told no, respond with “you don’t get a medal for having a natural birth” or “that doesn’t make you any better than women who get an epidural” or something equally as cringey and condescending … you can go punch yourselves right in the vaginas, you self-righteous twats.
(okay, now that was the hormones)
Stay up and moving for as long as possible.
Admittedly, one of the reasons I want to forgo an epidural is because I want to maintain mobility while laboring. I don’t want to take any affirmative steps that cut off options for birth, if that makes sense. I’d like to use a birthing ball, slow walks, stretching, a hot shower, and different positions for pain relief. I’d even be open to using my prenatal yoga. I just don’t want to be confined to a bed.
Create the most zen-like surroundings possible, while recognizing that I’m giving birth in a busy hospital.
We chose to deliver in a hospital for a reason. While I’ve had no complications thus far (until our hiccup last week), I am nevertheless considered a high-risk pregnancy because of my age. Because of that, I wanted to deliver in a hospital where the baby has easy, quick access to advanced medical care if he/she were to need it. A hospital birth is not a Woodstock yurt birth, and I’m very well aware of the differences in home vs. birthing center vs. hospital, and that a hospital is full of beeps and screams and bright lights and funny smells. That doesn’t mean, though, that I can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit and make my experience as calming as it can be.
- I’m bringing my diffuser with a few oils (primarily lavender … it relaxes me!).
- I’d like the lights to be dim when possible. I hate overhead lighting anyway — our house is full of lamps instead. I also understand that bright lights are in hospitals for a reason!
- I’m bringing my own pillow and blanket from home. I take a pillow and blanket with me any time I leave the house for an overnight trip, even if it’s to a Four Seasons. If I know I’ll be sleeping way from home, I want to take a comfort of home.
- I’ll bring a heating pad. A heating pad has been my saving grace in the second and third trimester. It’s helped so much with my back that I can’t imagine it wouldn’t help during labor.
- A microwavable eye mask. Do y’all get headaches in your eyeballs?? I do. This thing is a lifesaver.
- Clear liquids and snacks. It’s non-sensical to embark on such a huge physical journey and be given ice chips. Hard hell nah.
Use different positions to push.
I ain’t a scientist or anything, but I believe in gravity, and I don’t think gravity works as well as it could when you’re on your back. I’ve read about a lot of different pushing positions, whether squatting or hands and knees or what have you. I’d like the freedom to try different positions, instead of being trapped on my back and my back alone (another reason I’d like to go without an epidural).
Attempting warm compresses and perineal massage prior episiotomy.
This is a crunchy one, I know, but I’ve been reading (see above, the dangers of reading too much) about alternatives to cutting, and I would like to try to exhaust those before moving on to an episiotomy.
No forceps or vacuum.
… but if assistance is needed, suction instead of forceps.
If a c-section is necessary, Dad comes along.
And if a c-section is necessary, I’d still like to have immediate skin-to-skin (or in the alternative, Dale hold the baby while the placenta is still attached), and keep everyone with me while I’m stitched up. In the same vein, if baby goes to NICU, I’d like Dale to go with him.
I want Dale to tell me if our baby is a boy or a girl.
This is the moment we’ve been waiting for — meeting our baby and finding out something about who he or she is. I wouldn’t want anyone but Dale to tell me the first thing we find out about our new baby. Here’s the only caveat: our sweet Dale is a bit of a cryer. That kid could easily be ten minutes old and I won’t know whether it’s a boy or a girl because Dale is still weeping over him/her 🙂
Immediate skin-to-skin contact.
I think most hospitals offer this now, but in case something gets lost in the mix, I want my preference to be known. If I spent ten months cooking it and what will feel like another ten months ejecting it, gimme that baby now.
Delayed clamping (+ then Dale cuts).
At least until the cord stops pulsing.
Opportunity to try to feed, if baby is willing to latch.
May as well give this a whirl. If the kid is already on my chest, and we have access to a lactation consultant, it would seem wasteful to not try. I don’t want to use any formula or pacifiers while in the hospital.
All that good goo may not make for the most beautiful pictures, but the benefits of the vernix can’t be refuted. Rub that gooey goodness in and we’ll bathe Lil’ Critter at a later date.
We chose not to address the issue of visitors because, in our opinion, nurses are not bouncers. They have much more important things to do than be our personal gatekeepers. We will address visitation with anyone who will be there.
My health and the health of this baby are my first concern. We are open to suggestions and are always going to listen to what is medically necessary to ensure the healthiest possible outcome for myself and this child. We’ve done everything we can to prepare for a natural birth, but we are flexible and reasonable and will do anything for this kid.
Have I missed anything huge?