Birth Plans

I’ve been meaning to write a little about our birth plans this time around, but I hadn’t been inspired to actually sit down and do it. Then Josey wrote a post on what she has planned for her second birth and I thought it was finally time to relay my thoughts on the subject.

My first birth plan–which I wrote up with the help of my partner and our doula–was followed pretty much to a tee. This speaks more to the luck we had in everything going smoothly than anything else. We were very fortunate to experience an uncomplicated, vaginal birth. With the help of our doula, I achieved my goal of not getting an epidural or using pain medications. On paper, my birth experience was pretty much perfect.

Which is funny because I have very little desire to recreate it.

First of all, I shouldn’t fail to mention that I’m a member of Kaiser. I always have been and I probably always will be. I think Kaiser is pretty great because 1) I can afford it, despite abysmal teacher benefits and 2) it has always offered me the care I’ve needed (except for infertility coverage of course, but that isn’t something I would expect from any insurance package I could afford (or that might be offered me through my teaching job). Of course I’ve never suffered from a serious illness; maybe then I would be more cognizant of the ways in which Kaiser might fail me, but as a relatively healthy adult, Kaiser has always provided me with reliable, competent care, and it rarely bothers me when that care comes without certain choices. In fact, I kind of appreciate not having to research specialists or deal with transferring medical files. With Kaiser, every doctor has access to my entire medical history and there has always been someone available to help with whatever ails me (or my daughter).

Not surprisingly, reliable and competent is exactly how to describe my prenatal/maternity care with Kaiser as well. Oh, and it’s incredibly affordable. With my plan (which I buy out-of-pocket for me and my daughter) the entire prenatal/birthing experience costs less than $300. All the prenatal appointments are free, I only have to pay a measly $10/each for a couple of labs and $25 for each of the big ultrasounds. Plus, it’s $200/night for the hospital stay (we requested to only stay one night last time and plan to again). Even I have to admit, that is a pretty great deal.

So when I think about how I wish I could experience a water birth, and then I research doing so with a midwife either at home or in a birthing center, it just doesn’t make sense for me to spend $5K-$8K pursuing that option, especially when I can’t even be sure a water birth will be possible until late in my pregnancy (when I’m more sure my baby isn’t breech).

While I’d really love to experience a water birth, it’s just not an expense I can justify, especially when we’re expecting to go into debt to cover my three months of Family Medical Leave and then my part-time status next year. The reality is, we need to save that $5K-$8K for life after the baby’s birth. In fact, we’ve decided we don’t really feel comfortable paying the $2K doula fee this time around. Finances are just too tight with our new mortgage and the care of two children.

And honestly, I’m 99% okay with that.

The truth is, I had the best birth experience I could have hoped for last time, and you know what? It wasn’t that great. I’m sure that sounds incredibly ungrateful, especially for women who had horrific birthing experiences that they still mourn. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, because I’m not. The thing is, even when I had the birth experience that I thought it wanted, it wasn’t actually what I thought it would be like. I was dealing with really intense back labor and the ten hours we labored at home were harrowing. I spent every contraction fighting back waves of ever mounting panic. Many time, I succumbed to that panic. There was never a break and nothing the doula could do moved the baby to give me relief. Each contraction felt more stifling than the last and most of the time I felt desperate to get some relief. We actually headed to the hospital for me to get an epidural but when we got there I was already 8cm dilated so my plans were thwarted. That actually really pissed me off at the time.

Luckily the pain of each contraction wasn’t as bad when I was pushing but I still needed to do so for over 2.5 hours to get my baby out. One of the main reasons I hoped to avoid a medicated birth was I wanted to feel my daughter emerge, but she was crowning for so long (her head was HUGE) that my nerves basically shut down and I didn’t even realize she had been born until they yelled at me to take her. This was probably for the best because it meant I didn’t feel the third degree tear she gave me.

I read a lot of books about birthing babies and was especially taken with Ina May Gaskin’s book, filled with incredible stories of women who were fully and truly empowered by their birth experiences. I hired a doula and wrote a detailed birth plan hoping to have that kind of experience. And in many ways, I did, except I didn’t feel empowered at all. It wasn’t this incredible event that left me with a sense of purpose. It was really fucking hard and even though I did everything I was supposed to do, I didn’t have the experience I felt was promised me in all the an-unmedicated-birth-is-a-transcendent-climax-of-life books and articles. It was harrowingly difficult. The hours laboring at home were so traumatic that I couldn’t even look at the couch or the end of our bed for weeks afterward without having PTSD-like flashbacks and breaking into a cold sweat. I can only imagine how I would have felt if I’d actually birthed my daughter at home. Mostly I wanted to forget the whole thing, except for the part where I was handed my healthy baby.

And I have to admit, when I’ve heard people recount their epidural-assisted births I am quite jealous. Getting to the hospital, being relieved of the pain, taking a nice nap, waking up fully dilated and in a well-rested state, pushing my baby into the world without pain, well that sounds idyllic. That sounds transcendent. That might be what I want this time around.

Most of the time, I feel pretty guilty about my feelings surrounding my birth. I got the experience so many dream of–that so many do not get to have–and yet I obviously don’t appreciate it. It was hard and painful and I spent most of it oscillating between almost losing my shit and actually losing my shit. It was hours and hours of agonizing panic and I don’t really want to relive it again.

I’m going into my second birth with almost no expectations. I don’t have any goals to manage my pain without medication, in fact I will probably ask for an epidural this time around and be relieved when it kicks in. Of course I hope I can avoid a c-section, but I have faith that my body will do what it needs to do, if the circumstances permit. I know that is a luxury that many aren’t afforded and I DON’T take that confidence in my body for granted.

And while sometimes I wonder if I’m weird for not having loftier goals for my second birth experience (or a better appreciation of my first) mostly I try to accept my thoughts and feelings on all of this. My first birth experience taught me where my boundaries are, and I’m not sure I honored them completely the first time around. This time, I plan on being kinder to myself, on having fewer expectations. I have proven to myself that I can do a non-medicated birth and sure I’m proud, but I don’t need to prove it to myself–or anybody else–again. This time I want what feels best within the confines of the birthing situation we are offered. Honestly, if I’m handed a healthy baby at the end of it, I’ll consider it a resounding success.

Did/do you have high expectations for your birth experience? Were they met? Do you hope to do things differently if/when you have another child?

29 responses

  1. I went into my first with no expectations. Like you, I had excruciating back pain (and I can’t believe you did that without pain meds!!). I was 8cm dilated when i got to the hospital, pushed for 2 hours just like you… but I got an epidural, and then I ended up getting a c-section. With the second, I was bound and determined not to have another c-section. I just wanted to feel I could do it, and I found myself believing I had some say in it. But it turned out I did have a VBAC, and it was amazing! Overall, the second birth was much more medical: in the hospital from the beginning, epidural earlier in the process, constant monitoring. but I just wanted the vaginal birth, and I’m glad I got it.

    Still can’t believe you did back labor with no pain meds.

  2. Every birth is so different….for my first born the pain (back labor) was unmanageable. I was in labor for days and even with the epidural it was not the experience that i was hoping for. For my second I had to be induced, in a few hours the contractions started. It was manageable, it was even enjoyable to fell what normal contractions are…when i had enough after maybe 4 h… I asked to be checked…I was 4 cm and got the epidural, 1/2h later I asked to be checked again, the nurse said it was too early but I convinced her…I was almost 10cm….10 min later my daughter was born and I had my perfect”medicated” birth experience…even my body bounced back so much faster….

  3. I didn’t have time to set high expectations. We knew quite early that we’d likely end up with a c-section due to a frank breech presentation. I was sad about not having a non-medicated birth because that’s what I THOUGHT I wanted, but I got over that quickly knowing that it wasn’t a safe option for us (I know that some people think it is safe, but I disagree. Much family history, including my own sister’s birth 37 years ago, proves natural breech birth to be very risky).

    I am a big believer that a situation is what you make of it. We had a planned section with a grumpy anesthesiologist, and our first sons birth was still perfect. We had a couple complications with our second son, but it was also perfect. We have two healthy kids because of the “interventions” taken by our medical teams, and I’m grateful.

    I think too much is made, sometimes, of “interventions” such as epidurals, pitocin, etc. I do believe that too many women are induced and rushed along, but that’s not always the case. There is a valid place for pitocin and inductions in childbirth. There is a place for planned c-sections. They have very valid purposes, and I sometimes get concerned with all of the “I must have my ideal birth” plans and expectations that I read about.

    With that said, I was insanely envious of two bloggers recently who had home births. Their experiences sounded just beautiful. Reading their stories made me sad that that was no longer an option for us after 1 c-section. However, my own recent birth experience has turned me off completely to home birth for my own family. Had we had one for this baby, we both could have (and one doctor says we WOULD have) died in our home having that “ideal” birth experience.

    Our expectations are shaped by our own experiences, and my own experiences have been terrific even though they weren’t exactly what I may have wanted. I have two healthy kids, which in the end, is all I ever wanted. I could care less about how they got here as long as I know I did what was necessary to reduce as much risk as possible.

    I do look forward to hearing about others’ birth experiences, especially those who do get to do it the all natural way, and at home when possible! Those gals are lucky! But you, so was I!

    Sent from my Windows Phone ________________________________

  4. My first baby I labored at home for about 30 hours (start stop till the last 8 hours) , got to the hospital 5cm, got an epidural at 6cm, had the baby about 6 hours later. It was actually really nice. I had gone into it with a “we’ll see” attitude and I was so exhausted that getting some rest before meeting my daughter made perfect sense. I felt really present and with it when she was born. I have reallyreally positive feelings about her birth. My son was born almost 2 months ago, and again I thought “we’ll see.“ I ended up needing a pitocin augmentation (I was contracting regularly but not changing and he was having some heart rate issues with the contractions) in the middle of the night. After a few hours I asked for an epidural (pitocin is evil!!) and it FAILED! Well, it failed and I went from 5cm to complete while they did it so no time for a redo. I adore my son, but his birth was pretty traumatic for me. I was in incredible pain and I felt like I had been hit by a bus for days afterwards. I just don’t think that kind of pain enhances the experience at all. I completely understand what you’re saying and I don’t think you have any reason to feel guilty 🙂

  5. When (not if 😉 ) I get pregnant again your approach is very similar to mine. I would love a natural water birth in a hospital tho but if I have a back labour again I will have medication! You GO girl!!! That pain is ridiculous!!!

  6. What an articulate post. I’ve never heard someone talk about unmedicated birth in this way but I certainly makes sense. I love the fact that you are lowerin your expectations for yourself and just planning on birthing the way you want to birth withou guilt or “shoulds.”

  7. I also want to say that I commend you for saying, ‘hey, I had my ideal birth and it wasn’t great.’ I wonder if more women feel this way but don’t want to say it out loud!

  8. I think this should be required reading for all women! I may be an anomaly but I had no birth plan. I knew I wanted to labor at home as long as possible & then head to the hospital, that I’d get an epidural if I felt I needed it, and I’d prefer a vaginal delivery if there were no complications precluding it. And I wanted my husband with me. Same the second time.
    I appreciate your honesty here, which is why I think everyone should read your experience. People seem to put so much stock in this “perfect experience” and go through real grief when it doesn’t happen as planned—as if you can plan such a thing! I have a friend who was so depressed by her need for a c-section that she refused to speak to anyone for weeks, didn’t return calls, etc… we were so worried that the baby had died or something horrific. She was just “processing her grief” about the c-section, though she & the baby were beautiful and healthy. Sorry but I didn’t get it.

  9. I had 2 fantastic birth experiences- people think I am crazy when I say that I really LOVE giving birth- but do. I realize that I had it about as easy as it gets- around 5 pushes and my tiny-headed babies were out 🙂 But I also know there are many that would look down on my experiences because they were as “unnatural” as it gets- hospital (no midwife or doula), Pitocin, epidural. But pain is so not my thing (I’m a wimp), I absolutely love my OB and didn’t feel I needed more support other than her and my husband, and I felt like because I was pain free, I got to really well, enjoy, pushing my babies out. The only thing I wanted to do different with Charlotte was I was hoping I would actually get to experience going into labor, because with Grayson, my water broke and they had to induce labor at the hospital. And I sort of got my wish- I regret that I didn’t wait longer to go to the hospital because I wasn’t really in active labor when I got there like I thought I was. So hours later instead of sending me home, my dr broke my water and started Pitocin.

    I read Josey’s post yesterday with respect and happiness- for her. Totally not what I chose, or would ever choose, but I think it’s fantastic when women are able to achieve the ideal birth for them, whatever that looks like.

  10. This is a really interesting post.

    I think in the last 5 years, there has been an increased importance placed on having the “perfect” birth experience. Preferably natural, preferably with a midwife only (medical interventions: BAD!) and if you’re lucky, a home-based water birth a la Soulemama.

    That’s cool if you can do that. If luck, fertility, your body type, your baby’s position, etc etc all line up for you.

    But I see the birth experience similarly to how I see a wedding. Maybe you’ll be lucky to have the wedding you always dreamed of: your parents have a lot of $ or you have the DIY skills to put on the most awesome wedding ever. But the wedding is one day. Just one day.

    Your marriage is for life.

    And so, your birth is one day. Maybe it rains on your wedding day, maybe you can’t afford a big wedding so you elope. Maybe you go to City Hall.

    This doesn’t mean you won’t have an excellent marriage! My parents eloped and they’ve been married 45 years.

    Similarly, your birth experience is one day. It’s such a small part of the overall experience of parenting.

    This may not be a popular opinion, but so be it…

    • Your comment is popular with me. I totally see it the same way – exactly! I worry about some of these lofty expectations and then the disappointments when they don’t fall into place. Many times, the loss of the “ideal” experience overshadows the actual experience of having the baby. It’s sad.

    • I couldn’t agree more. For me, the details of the birth (or wedding) are irrelevant to the experience of being a parent (or spouse). I was married at City Hall and it is a happy, but unimportant, memory. I had a difficult, but vaginal birth, and while it was an interesting experience that I value on some level, I get no sense of personal triumph from it. I did, however, get a healthy baby from it, so yay!

  11. Sounds like you are voting for a reality birth not a fantasy. Makes sense to me. You may or may not have medicine, it will vary with what happens which no one can predict. This bay may be fast and easy (what I hope for you), or it may have a different course of events in other ways from your first. I do think knowledge helps A LOT, but flexibility based on events is important! And most important is the healthy mom and baby afterwards.
    Cheers and good wishes.

  12. My second birth was a bit of a let-down compared to my first (which actually was text-book primal cheerleading great). I went late rather than early, my water had to be broken. The experienced nurse was very competent (got the baby’s head out of the stuck cervix lip quickly) but clearly annoyed she had to stay longer than her shift because of me and because of the doctor. The doctor was also ready to be done after a long day with patients and three weeks of me being highly dilated. The most excited person in the room was the med student observing.

    Which is weird because the baby was out less than an hour after they broke my water. It didn’t hurt at all– I couldn’t even feel the contractions until they made me go on my back. Most women dream of that kind of birth. But without external validation I felt a bit let-down, especially with all the stress of her going late and failing an NST and so on. And they kept asking me questions which I found annoying… with the first they asked DH and the doula so I didn’t have to think about anything.

    But, in the end, meh. It all worked out. The baby came out. She’s every bit as wonderful as her big brother.

  13. Something that frustrates me about people judging women who have birth plans and hopes for a certain type of birth experience is when they say that these women are “setting themselves up for failure” or “unrealistic about how little control you have” or “should just want a healthy baby at the end.”

    For me, doing a ton of research and being my own best advocate is what helped us to find the right RE and to finally conceive. I am of the belief that the SAME principle applies to birth experiences. Sure, it’s only one day, but it’s a pretty damn important day, and if I can arm myself with the knowledge of WHY certain interventions are done (and thank God we live in a time and place that they’re possible if necessary) and WHY certain things really don’t need to be done and are simply done because it’s “routine” (kind of like OBs putting every sub-fertile woman on Clomid w/o properly diagnosing what her IF issues are)… I feel like with knowledge, I can set myself up for a better birth experience.

    For example, my SIL was planning a home waterbirth with her 2nd son last summer after a horrible OB experience with #1 where they claimed her pelvis wasn’t big enough (lie) and the baby had low fetal heart rate (lie! according to the ER report she read after) and they vacuumed him out after lots of intimidation and fear mongering. At 40w with #2 (while she was in active labor) they discovered he was footling breech. This meant a quick switch to a hospital situation, BUT, if she hadn’t educated herself, she’d have gone to the local hospital and gotten the required C-section (they don’t even allow attempted breech births) and had to have a major surgical procedure done. Instead, her midwife suggested the contact a doctor she knew in the next state over ( < 2 hrs away, and breech vaginal births are allowed there)…and he said come on over, I've delivered them before, and I'm totally comfortable letting you try! My SIL and BIL drove there, and she delivered a happy, healthy little boy — feet first — into her birthing tub in that hospital room. Different than her original plan? Yes. But she was able to stay calm, listen to her "change of plans" HypnoBabies script, and make educated, informed choices as to what kind of birth experience she still wanted to attempt to have. I'm not saying a c-section would have been the end of the world for her – far from it – but her preparation with HypnoBabies and knowledge about why and when certain medical procedures really need to be done allowed her to make decisions and have the calm birth experience she had hoped for.

    All that to say – it's okay that you aren't in love with your first birth experience – even if it was the one you had hoped to have. It's okay you're planning something different this time! It's okay that women birth babies in a million different ways! I totally hope that you come out of this second birthing time in LOVE with your birth experience. I just wish more women would educate themselves about their choices and the hows and whys of the "standard procedures" that are done in American hospitals now days. I just think it would help a lot of people to feel more at peace with how things go down – whether it was on their birth plan or not.

    • Hey Josey – I hope you don’t think my comment was judging you for going the natural birth route. I really meant it when I said that it is cool when you do go that route. I read Soulemama’s birth stories and they really sound great. I admire those who do this.

      What I meant was for those of us who have complicated pregnancies and deliveries or whose birth experience was all they wanted it to be but they were still disappointed, I do think that it isn’t worth lamenting and being sad that our experience didn’t match the ideal.

      • No, I didn’t feel judged about going natural. 🙂 I just feel like it truly is MORE than “just one day” though. In the grand scheme of things – yes, a health baby(ies) is what is important. However, that one simple day can affect how a lot of women feel about themselves for a LONG time. Just as a picture-perfect (whatever that is to you!) birth experience can make you feel strong and capable and supported and loved for a long time after — a traumatic birth experience can cause a woman to suffer from PTSD and feel UNcapable and UNsupported and UNloved for a long time after. So yeah, I think it’s more than just one day.

        Recently I’ve read a lot of REALLY cool birth stories — for example, Courtney and Scrambled Eggs had perfect Cesarean experiences and LilChickNug & ArchMama and gorgeous home birth experiences. They were all great stories b/c the Moms were 100% supported by their significant others AND care providers throughout the process. IMO, THAT’s the key that is missing for so many birthing Moms. It’s not whether you get an epi or not, delivery vaginally or via c-section, etc. — it’s whether or not the Mother came out of it feeling good about & supported during the experience, because Damn, it is a pretty darn important day.

      • Certainly it is an important day, but I think what some bloggers are trying to say is that maybe women wouldn’t suffer from such terrible PTSD if they didn’t have such high expectations going into it as many do. When the whole process is in many ways out of their hands, it’s a lot of pressure to put on oneself (and one’s birth experience). Ultimately there is very little they can control, even if they do have all the information, when it comes to how their bodies (and their babies) manage labor. Even if a woman has painstakingly put into a place a team and environment that supports her, there is every chance the experience won’t be the one she wants. And even if everything DOES go the way they hoped, it still might not be the experience they actually wanted, like what happened to me. Luckily I didn’t have really intense expectations of what the experience might provide me, ultimately I just wanted my daughter to arrive safe and sound, that is what I was so worried about, ending up without a baby at the end of it.

        I’m not trying to say that women shouldn’t be informed or shouldn’t expect respect and caring–to be treated like an individual living out a life changing even instead of just a patient taking up a room and resources–on what is, as you say, an incredibly important day. I’ve read horror stories of women be treating really terribly by nurses, doctors or other medical staff and I do believe that is a real tragedy because every PERSON, not just mother or laboring mother, deserves more from the medical profession. And I understand that women have more of a chance of getting that respect and caring and individualized treatment in some settings than in others. But many of us don’t have many options about how and where their babies come into the world. It’s not fair or right but it’s how medical insurance works for most of us. I don’t know, maybe as someone who has limited choices, I am lowering my standards. I can’t really say.

        I wrote this post because I was one of the people who had the experience she hoped to achieve (within the confines of what I was offered by my medical provider) and it ended up being not what I actually wanted. No one told me about back labor. No one told me that I might not actually feel my baby emerge. No one told me that laboring at home might be so intensely difficult that I would not want to be back in my house afterward. These were not options presented to me by the people who touted how wonderful having an unmedicated birth could be. I just wanted to put my story out there so people can hear another story, a different story, but one that is not any less valid for failing to fit into the easily claimed categories of “amazing” birth stories or “horrible” birth stories or “whatever, it was fine” birth stories.

        I’ve seen women who have very distinct ides of what they want that day to look like get very upset when it doesn’t go the way they had hoped. And I feel for them, I really do. It’s not that I don’t think every woman deserves the birth story of their dreams, I just don’t think it’s ultimately possibly for most of them to achieve it, for a variety of reasons. And it seems that by setting up these really high expectations, we’re giving women more opportunities to feel like they failed and to be really, really upset.

        Again, maybe my view of this is tainted by what is possible for me (and when I say that I mean what my family has deemed possible for our specific situation–which is a mixture of our medical coverage, our current financial situation and our projected financial situation). I just want to help women understand that even a “perfect” birth might not feel all that perfect in the end. Maybe if I hadn’t had such high expectations of how empowering it would be, I would have felt differently about how it actually happened.

        I do agree that ultimately it is just one day, an important day to be sure, but just one day. Of course, I’m the girl who didn’t think she could bring herself to spend $20K on wedding even before she decided not to get married. I just don’t like to put that kind of pressure on one experience. I’m sure I’d likely feel differently about it if it had all gone to shit, so I’m not trying to speak to women who did have a bad experience and still feel scarred by that. I AM SURE I don’t know what that is like and I don’t mean to imply that I do. And I don’t begrudge a woman spending lots of time, energy and resources trying to ensure she has as positive an experience as possible. I just know that I won’t be doing that personally and I do believe I have more of a chance of feeling okay about what ultimately happens to me than women who do have high expectations, because my expectations will be more easily met. But maybe that is just the coward’s way out. I don’t know.

  14. I think listening to yourself is the most important thing. If you want a different experience this time around, then that’s what you should do! Mine were both epidural assisted, and I personally wouldn’t have changed a thing. I’m amazed that women can do it without medication- kinda terrifies me.

  15. I realize writing this, and reading all the comments and writing some more, than one of the reasons I wrote this post is that I think there is a segment of the birthing community (and I’m not talking about anything specific to the ALI community, though I see aspects of it here too) that is claiming there is a superior way to give birth. I understand that this movement is a response to the highly medicated/interventions heavy reality of the “birthing industry” today and it’s not that I’m against “unmedicated” or “natural” births as I’ve seen them called (obviously, I was all for one myself the first time around) but I do feel that many of the big names in this particular segment of the birthing community are touting a certain way to give birth and declaring it the BEST way for all people. (I’m speaking about professionals here, not bloggers.) And I just don’t believe that is true. I think I probably did believe that was true before I had my experience, but then I did everything those “natural” birth proponents told me to do (with in the confines of my medical provider) and I ultimately had the experience they said I should have (an unmedicated birth in which my request for limited/no interventions was respected) and I DIDN’T feel it was an amazing and empowering experience, as I felt I was promised it would be. So I think ultimately I put this out there so that people who are trying to decide what is best for them, can know that sometimes a woman can really want that empowering, unmedicated birth and actually ACHIEVE it and not feel good about what happened to them. My doula was amazing, my midwife was supportive, my partner was present, my body did what it was supposed to and my daughter arrived healthy and yet I don’t embrace my birth experience at all. And honestly, after all I had read about how I was SUPPOSED to feel about having that kind of birth, I felt less than for not having that feeling positive about my experience after it happened. I felt like I had failed somehow, even though I didn’t fail. So I think, more than anything, this is a post in response to that movement (and again, I’m speaking about what I read in BOOKS and professional articles, not on blogs). I wish I had felt comfortable at least pursuing what a medicated birth might have looked like without feeling like that would have been wrong some how, like I would have been ignorant to listen to the medical establishment machine and accepted their drugs and interventions. And I’m so thankful that I now have the knowledge, and the opportunity, to do that the second time around. And I hope that my experience can help others come to a decision about what they want with more information, because I feel my birthing experience was valid too, even if it’s not what the “natural” birth experts would share when touting that their way is the best way.

  16. Pingback: Your Birth Story: All You Wanted It To Be? | Too Many Fish to Fry

  17. I haven’t yet read the comments, and I plan to do so after this. I just wanted to say that with my first, I went in wanting an epidural, but wasn’t able to get one until AFTER I was at 9 centimeters. It didn’t kick in until I was holding my baby girl and thought, “Weird. I can’t really feel my legs.” It sucked! I was having diarrhea and puking from the pain for hours and had my eyes squeezed shut the entire time. When I had my second, I was able to get the epidural at 4 centimeters, took a nap, ended up having two doses of Pitocin (which I never felt), then pushed seven times before my next baby girl was in my arms. My eyes were wide open, I watched and listened and experienced the whole thing. It was amazing. I am now pregnant with my third and will DEFINITELY choose that peaceful experience again if I am blessed enough to be able to.

    Feel no guilt about saying what you did! I have lived through almost the same thing and am beyond happy with what happened and where we are today.

  18. Birth plans are just that, a plan. An idea of what to do in certain situations. What is ideal and what to do when the ideal isn’t possible. My only issue with birth plans is when the mom (to be) is completely inflexible in the circumstances, or when she completely contradicts her plan then gets mad at the nursing staff for giving in to her demands and going against her plan. The birth plan is a tool to be used by parents to be so their health care providers can support them in their choices for what ever circumstances arise during the birth process. Every woman should have an opportunity to have the birthing experience of her “dreams” if that’s the right word or not, I’m unsure. But every woman needs to know there is a possibility it might not go as “planned.” I have a great deal of respect for women who know what they want. As a NICU nurse, all I see is the bad stuff. I’m also old and high risk and was with my daughter. A hospital is the only place I felt comfortable birthing my child. As it turns out I ended up being pre-eclamptic and had to be induced at 37 weeks. Now I’m older, more high risk and gestational diabetic. So hospital it is again for me, not that I had any thoughts of delivering at home, but I do have a great deal of respect for women who educate themselves and research their desires and make their visions come true. Birthing, like a wedding, is very personal. It is one day, but it is the beginning of a new stage in life and no matter what, that ONE day will have an effect on the rest of that families life. I hear all the time how I nearly killed my mother and she was never able to ever have another child after me. My own experience in child birth wasn’t “ideal” but it was an amazing experience. I owe that more to the care providers than anything else. I was treated with respect and my wishes were acknowledged. I was advocated for by my labor nurse who is also a doula. And it was a wonderful beginning to my little family life. I’m lucky enough to have hired my labor nurse to be my doula this time so she will be dedicated to me with few other distractions. Each woman has their own experience. My wish is for every woman to have as close to their ideal birthing experience as possible. This is an insightful post and has definitely spurred some great conversations!

  19. My birth plan was do the best I could. I hoped for unmedicated, but I wasn’t going to beat myself up if that’s what I needed to get through it. A very good friend of mine went through birth classes with us, she had an unmedicated birth a month before my medicated one.

    I was kinda bummed I couldn’t…hold out or whatever. Then I talked to my friend, (who is 100% pro medication free births to this day which Go her!) about her birth. It was maybe 3 months later and I sincerely feel like she was still traumatized. She had a really hard time recovering mentally and physically from giving birth.

    I did not have that triumphant moment of overcoming the worst and best a woman’s body could go through, but I didn’t have the life altering pain am I really going to make it through this? moment either. It was what it was.

    I wouldn’t change my birth with G for anything. And if I get to give birth again, I’ll have the same plan. Do the best I can, and accept my limitations.

  20. Wow, look how many comments you got! I think that’s because, no matter what we want, women feel strongly about birth. What I loved about your post is that you are standing up for what YOU want and not going into the experience with preconceived notions. There is no shame in using pain medication, although I think sometimes people may feel that way. Pain medication is not a bad thing! That being said, for my first birth, I’m trying the all-natural route in a birthing center. We’ll see how it goes….

  21. I’m really sorry that your first birth wasn’t a good experience for you and I hope that your experience is better this time around. I commend you for being open and honest about your feelings around your first birth experience, don’t think for a second because you got what you thought you wanted that it’s not okay to say that it wasn’t a pleasant experience. The best thing we can do for each other is be honest about these very personal things – anything else sets up unrealistic expectations and then we beat ourselves up.

    I definitely have a preference for a med-free labor, but I am also totally okay with getting an epidural if the need arises and I just can’t continue. Mostly I just don’t want to recover from the meds (the shakes, the cathedar removal, etc). I think regardless everything will be different for me this time around since i have a new doctor who I think is much more patient-focused and I can’t be induced since I’m trying to VBAC. I’ll either go into labor, or I’ll be set up for a c-section.

    Anyway, birth plans / preferences are so very personal. thanks for sharing your thoughts on it. I have a post brewing on it but it’s on of those times where there’s so much I want to say (in general and about myself specifically) that I’m having a hard time finding the words.

  22. I love this post. Thank you for sharing. I do think it is sad that there is so much hype around the perfect meaning natural birth experience and it is nice to read such an honest post about how it may not be the perfect birth experience for everyone. I asked my doctor how long the feeling of failure lasted after my induction failed and we decided on a c-section with my twins. She had had to have a ad-section for her baby and she said until your babies are born and you know what…she was totally right. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to push, but that is only a passing curiosity. I also think that women are so quick to blame doctors and medical professionals when their labor or birth experiences don’t go according to plan. I dont know any OB doctors who don’t have their patients best interest as their top priority. They have trained and studied for years to be experts in their fields and we give them such little credit for helping to brig our babies Ito the world safely. I also think it is important for patients to be knowledgeable. I brought medical studies to my doctors about how it was safest to deliver twis between 37&38 weeks and they went back to the literature and agreed with me. But there are important times when we should defer to their expertise. Maybe that’s is why it is so important to have a doctor that you trust. Maybe the key is to be flexible. I think there is nothing wrong with having high expectations but I don’t think that we should set the bar as a natural birth because that bar may not be realistic or safe or the best plan for everyone. Thank you for this wonderful post. I am looking forward to reading more.

  23. I had an unmediated 1st birth and a medicated 2nd birth. I also had my “ideal” natural birth experience the 1st time, and I planned the same the 2nd time, but my memories of the pain and my XL baby (10/7) caused me to stall out at 5 cm. Once I got the epidural 30+ hours in I went from 5-9 cm in 45 minutes (during a nice nap!). To top that off, I had to wait for the back-up midwife to come to the hospital, and by the time she got there the baby was most of the way down the birth canal (and I didn’t even feel “pushy”). Of course it won’t be that way for everyone, but it worked for me. While I value my natural birth experience, I think if I do it a third time I will get the epidural again (and sooner!)

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