I’ll get right to the point. It bothers me when people warn my pregnant friends not to get “too hung up on a birth plan”. Not to imagine their birth going a specific way. Not to envision a positive birth experience that results in a healthy baby AND a satisfied mother, empowered by her body’s ability to do it’s job.
After all – you should be happy with what you get, as long as the baby is healthy, to heck with how YOU feel, or what YOU needed in order to start down the road of motherhood in the best way you can. Mothers are just not that important after all – machines can warm your baby, nurses can feed your baby, and doctors can monitor the baby to make sure it has a pulse and sufficient brain waves. So – if you need to be broken and medicated while others take care of your baby, well, that’s not really anything to cry about.
No one says “don’t get to hung up on the idea of a healthy baby.” You don’t want to be disappointed if she has a cleft palate, or a club foot, or heaven forbid, something worse. So you should just plan on a stillbirth, and be relieved if your baby makes it out alive. And why not – 10%-15% of babies are in NICU after birth. So why aren’t people constantly telling you that you should make plans in case you can’t take your baby home with you? (Incidentally, I think there is value in knowing about your local NICU and your local hospital’s c-section protocols, just not fixating on them as absolutes).
Someone should put this on a maternity tee-shirt and sell that right next to the ones that say “Coming in June”.
“Expecting the worst, let’s hope we are one of the lucky ones!”
Oh wait, you don’t think that would be a hit at the shower?
But that’s what our doctors, our office nurses, our “friends” tell us at every turn. If you even mention that you plan to birth without medication, (or even vaginally!) some ray of sunshine has to tell you how you shouldn’t think like that – because you wouldn’t want to be disappointed.
Look – when I go to the grocery store each week, I drive there imagining what I will buy at the grocery store. I think about what food I will prepare with the groceries I buy. I might think about whether I should stop at Starbucks on the way, since I pass three of them.
When I share my plan to go to the grocery store on Facebook, or with my mom on the phone, or with my husband as I write the list – NO ONE WARNS ME I MIGHT GET IN A CAR ACCIDENT. Or they might have lost power and I can’t shop (this has happened more than once). Or the baby throws up and I give up and go home.
No one! Can you imagine how incredibly uncaring my friends and family must be. No one says to me – “don’t get your heart set on making it to the grocery store, you don’t know what might happen” – or “I know you want to get a roast for the crock pot, but you need to realize they might be out of rump roast – so adjust your expectations.”
They expect that I am using a car seat, will buckle myself in, have gas in the car, have changed the oil at least once in the last year, have air in the tires and am aware of the potential pitfalls that may happen when I get out on the road. Why am I so capable to drive my small child and myself to the store, but need constant reminding that my plans for a natural birth are foolish and skewed and I am totally unprepared? Why?
If you want to go natural and are pressured into medication, or even if you feel like you truly need it, you may be disappointed. If you want a vaginal birth, you very well may suffer disappointment if you have a c-section. And that’s okay, and expected, and no amount of preparation for this hypothetical outcome may make it any less disappointing. How you feel about your birth IS VALID, and no amount of prepping you for disappointment is going to do one bit of good. YOU are the only one who will share this birth with this baby, YOU are the only one who has protected and nurtured your baby for 9 months. Your birth doesn’t need to define you, but you have every right to have the birth you dream of, or at the very least have every opportunity to have the closest thing to it.
To all the haters who want to bring my mama friends down, with your “friendly” warnings – just don’t. Tell her you are excited about meeting her baby, ask her about names, tell her your own labor story if you must (scaring pregnant mamas isn’t cool, so if it all sucked, stick to the joy of meeting your little one). Celebrate her pregnancy and birth with her. Seriously, this is a case of “if you can’t say anything nice…”
And trust that if she can drive herself to the grocery store, navigating traffic, construction, school zones and wayward pedestrians – she is probably interested in the logistics of having a 6+ pound baby come out of her vagina and might have asked a couple of questions along the way.