I'm a planner by nature. I've got a family
meal plan mapped out for the next two months. I bought my first Christmas gift
in July. And I've already put some serious thought into our 2014 summer
vacation. So when it came to writing a birth plan for my first child, you'd
think I'd be all over that, right? Well, imagine my surprise when I found
myself 35 weeks pregnant and avoiding it like a Trader Joe's parking lot on a
I was stressing. You've got to have one, right? I
mean, if you don't hand the L&D registration nurse a five-page, single-spaced
document detailing every step of your birth, you're sure to become one of the
horror stories you read about online: a completely unnecessary C-section, after
which evil nurses whisk your baby away for hours and pump him full of poisonous
formula. They might even give him ... the
The truth is, I had no problem with a
C-section if needed. Or formula, for that matter. And despite exhaustive
research, I just couldn't find it in me to get worked up about something
referred to as "eye goop." Yet it felt irresponsible to go without a thorough
birth plan. So, why was I having so much trouble writing one?
I was still futzing with the plan when my
water broke a week-and-a-half early. With the birth of my son imminent, I came
up with a new (non) plan on our way to the hospital: safe delivery, healthy
baby, healthy mama.
Good thing, because I had a number of
complications that would have made the old plan completely irrelevant. Being
flexible was liberating. Despite the interventions, I still feel good about my
For those of you banging your heads against
your laptops at 35 weeks, don't feel like you have to force it. For me, keeping
these more general ideas in mind helped make giving birth a positive experience.
The fact is that Googling and talking to my sister-in-law about her induction does not give me the same skills and training as a professional.
your team wisely, and respect their expertise. For my money, this is where planning (and
research) really pays off, no matter if you choose a hospital, birthing center or
home birth. The best decision I made in preparing for birth was selecting a like-minded
doctor who was also forthright about possible complications and how they'd be
handled. Once you've chosen someone, I think it's important to respect her
expertise, just as you want her to respect your wishes. We should all be
well-informed, but the fact is that Googling and talking to my sister-in-law
about her induction does not give me the same skills and training as a
professional—whether that's a doctor, nurse, midwife or support staff.
There's no "right" way to give birth. By clinging to a stringent birth
plan, we risk setting ourselves up for disappointment or worse—feelings of failure—should the unexpected arise. There are many ways to deliver a baby, and there's no prize for doing it one way versus another. Giving birth can be
an empowering experience, but the ultimate purpose is to get the baby out. Too
often we make it a reflection of ourselves, as if it's our first "act" of motherhood and defines the type of mother we'll be for the rest of our
lives. Well, it's not
and it doesn't.
Let yourself off the hook. No
matter how hard you try, you can't control everything that happens during a
birth (is it designed this way to prepare us for the unpredictability of
parenthood? I'm thinking yes). The last thing we want to do is get so caught up
in how things "should" go that we miss out on the joy of welcoming our children
into the world.
As for my inclination to
plan ahead ... well, I'm not totally reformed. My son's first birthday party is
still eight months away and I've already picked out the invitation.