My Developing Birth Plan

**I was thinking about turning off comments for this post so I don’t get any negative responses but decided I would miss all the good positive responses (if any). I don’t mind civil discourse but please refrain from telling me I’m nuts, k? thanks**

In case you didn’t know I’m a research librarian. That means that I’ve already read every mainstream book on pregnancy and childbirth and I’m having to delve into obscure texts and scientific literature. Because of this I’m starting early on my birth plan and actually my birth philosophy. I keep reading because it is so discouraging the comments I get from other Moms. When I ask “did you have an epidural?” they look at me like I’m crazy and say “hell, yeah.” Forget even mentioning I want to “go natural” they outright laugh at me. I’ve decided not to bring it up anymore but some people ask me what I want. Unfortunately, besides on my message boards I know no woman who had (or wanted) a natural birth. The condescending “oh she’ll break” attitude is really hard to take. So, I will be well informed – and after all, as with this blog, my true audience is my baby. I want her to know why I did what I did.

So, first – we decided to go with a midwife. There are many reasons for this and reading books about natural childbirth will give them all to you but here is the one that really sunk in for me: Obstetricians are trained surgeons. Did you hear that? SURGEONS. They exist for surgical intervention (forceps, vacuum extraction, and cesareans). Now, this isn’t a bad thing at all and thank God we live in a time with such a low infant/maternal mortality rate. But 95% of all births do not need surgery. So, why do 90% of American women use OBs for their maternity care? Second just think about it – the OB comes in for the last 1/2 hour – she is there to make sure your baby is delivered alive and healthy. A midwife, being a nurse (in our case), treats both patients – the mother and the baby – and helps with the overall birth experience.

Birth experience? Yeah, most people aren’t big on those. Birth is something to “survive” and “get through.” The result is desirable (a baby) but the process is not (labor and delivery). This wasn’t always the case. It is hard to explain to most women why anyone would every consider a “painful” delivery when medicine exists to blissfully take it away. I admit at first it was hard for me to explain – I didn’t know why it just felt right. I think the reason is kind of spiritual. I remember talking to my sister once about breastfeeding. I think she might have said she didn’t want to do it. I made her yell (picture Cuba Gooding Jr. yelling “show me the money”) “I am a MAMMAL!” LOL My point was that our bodies were uniquely made for just that thing and we were cheating ourselves out of our purpose by not breastfeeding. I feel the same way about experiencing labor and birth completely.

My mom’s birth of me, although she tells it fondly and wouldn’t typify it this way, was traumatizing! She had no idea what was going on, she was alone, she wasn’t asked about anything. She actually hallucinated in the delivery room. She remembers seeing smoke and a big butcher knife in the dr. hand. Now, I’m hoping this was hallucination because I’m pretty sure even in 1975 huge kitchen knives were not used for episiotomies. She also tells how she was gripping the bed rail in fear and the nurse kept telling her to relax and let go so she could insert the IV. Mom remembers wanting to comply but watching idly by as the nurse peeled her hand free finger by finger. She also had a first reaction to her baby (me) of bland disinterest. Of course she did! She was in shock and relieved to have the trauma over. (Note, I have an awesome mom and she bonded the hell out of me eventually.) My dad, who was forced to wait for word of his wife’s fate remembers pounding on the nursery glass because he thought the nurse was handling me roughly for my first bath. He, of course, had yet to even hold me.

Now trust me, I know that all medicalized births are not like this and that some babies would die without medical intervention. But, this is not the birth experience I imagine for myself. Even Jenny McCarthy (whose book Belly Laughs is hilarious and a must read for expecting mothers), who birthed her son in this millenium had an IV for fluids, and epidural, and a catheter – she might as well have been tied to a bed!

Lots of things in life that are worthwhile hurt. Running a marathon, training to be an elite gymnast, etc. Have you ever seen a ballet dancer’s feet bleed? I remember when I backpacked to the continental divide in Rocky Mountain National Park. I had everything I needed strapped to my back and I had to get to the top of the trail before nightfall to set up my tent. I thought I was going to DIE! Every part of me hurt so bad I wanted to cry. I really thought I couldn’t go on. But I did. I put up my tent with numb fingers, tied my food in a anti-bear canister and slung it over a tree branch and finally collapsed fully dressed, in my hiking boots into my sleeping bag. The next morning when I woke up at the top of a mountain I wanted to cry again at how beautiful it was and how worth the pain the experience was. I’ll never forget this – it one of the greatest experiences of my life.

I guess what it comes down to is this: I am more powerful than I know. I am uniquely made to birth a baby. I know that barring circumstances that threaten the life of my baby, I CAN give birth as women have for millenia. I know it will hurt but I also know it will feel exhilarating.

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7 thoughts on “My Developing Birth Plan

  1. My mom didn’t have an epidural. She ended up having a C-section because her pelvic bone is tipped and I couldn’t get through. But, back in 1980, she had to wait hours for her C-section because there was only one surgical crew there and they were busy. She was in labor for about three hours AFTER I should have come out while waiting for the surgical team, all without an epidural. She says labor was a really neat feeling and she’s never once wished she’d had the drugs.

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  2. I hope that you can have the experience as you imagine it. I think it’s great that you have thought of everything. I was not so prepared for any of it. I was just sure that I wanted to have a baby. I hope I can be there for the birth of your child in a complete way rather than just a bystander like at your birth. Regardless of how the birth went, though, I was elated to have you and feel very blessed to have raised you and know you today. Love forever increasing, Mom

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  3. I had a midwife, and an epidural. I also had an amazing, fun (yes, fun!), beautiful labor and delivery. I’m amazed by women who give birth without medication and think it’s such an empowering thing. On one hand, I wish I could have done it that way, but on the other my son’s delivery was every bit as perfect as I imagined it would be and I don’t know that it could have been that way if I’d made different decisions.

    I’m all about being informed and knowing maybe too much. I like to be prepared. I’m impressed with all of your research and that you’re going into it with knowledge and forethought. It’s going to be great and I can’t wait to see that little baby of yours!

    (By the way, I love the way your mom signed off on her comment. What a sweet lady!)

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  4. Good on you! I hope the birth id all the things you expect. i too had hoped for a natural birth, in water. But the sudden labour and placental abruption at 33 weeks put a dampener on it. But in the end I was so grateful to not to have been cut open that it didn’t matter if it wasn’t as I imagined.

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  5. Well, this is something I haven’t quite researched for myself yet, but I have a pretty strong idea of what I do and don’t want. And my mom hallucinated with my birth in 1976…I wonder how many women they did that to?

    And I’m completely annoyed that there is a doctor in our church who is now pregnant, and was giving my dh all kinds of advice. (epidural, morning sickness meds, etc.) I want the least amount of intervention during pg/birth!

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  6. Oh, honey, GOOD FOR YOU! I had an all-natural birth at home with a midwife and it was AWESOME. You can definitely do it. You’re right – we’re made for it!

    I used the mountain-climbing analogy myself too – I climbed a two-mile-high-straight-up-omg mountain without gear (or warning) on a ‘day hike’ with some friends. I told myself, “You got up and down this mountain; you can do anything!”

    My son’s birth was something to be proud of achieving. I will be proud of it my whole life.

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