I Won’t Be Defined by My Birth Plan

Birth Plan

Jordan and I went to a birthing class recently. It was held in my doctor’s office and run by an experienced labor and delivery nurse. The information was conveyed to the group in a no-nonsense yet humorous way. It helped us feel even more at ease despite the fact that we have no idea how or when our baby will arrive. The hospital where I will deliver is extremely baby friendly*, which is important to me, but you know what isn’t important to me? Having a natural childbirth experience.

The topic of birth and birth plans among women my age is inevitable, and while many share from an honest, loving place, I’ve sometimes left those conversations feeling icky. Why has it become the norm to define our value as a mother by our birth plan? I won’t allow myself to feel less-than because I’ve opted for a more “Western medicine” approach.

The journey to parenthood begins, but certainly doesn’t end in labor and delivery. When you really get down to it, a woman has little to no control over how her body wants to labor. Some will have a textbook experience while others won’t. I find it extremely disheartening when women feel shame and embarrassment over their “failed” birth plan. All birth is miraculous.

Women have been giving birth since the beginning of humanity, but it’s also easy to forget that there was no such thing as natural versus “unnatural” birth until recently. If it weren’t for the invention of modern medicine many of us (or our children) would have died during childbirth from seemingly simple causes. It was either birth or (sadly) no birth. I think of my grandmother, who had four c-sections in the 50s. I’m grateful science had advanced to the point where she and her babies could arrive alive and healthy.

It’s important to be aware of our health and our healthcare options. Don’t like your doctor? Find a new one. If a birth center brings you peace of mind then by all means choose a birth center! We just have to remember neither a birth center nor hospital childbirth will guarantee an easier time parenting your toddler. Your teenager won’t care how they were delivered.

I, for one, feel comfortable in hospital environments. I’ve been able to find a doctor with whom I have the most confidence (seriously, she’s incredible). My parents both worked in the medical field and taught me to advocate for myself and, after consulting with some experts, make a decision that works best for me. To me, it was a no-brainer, but choosing a hospital birth isn’t setting me up for success or failure. It’s simply the avenue in which my son will enter this world.

To all my beautiful, strong women out there: I love you and hope you feel empowered no matter your birth plan!

*For hospitals to be considered “baby friendly” they have to meet certain standards: immediate skin-to-skin to encourage successful breastfeeding, a nursery is available, but the baby can stay in your room the entire time, etc.

28 thoughts on “I Won’t Be Defined by My Birth Plan”

  1. “If it weren’t for the invention of modern medicine many of us (or our children) would have died during childbirth from seemingly simple causes.” PREACH. Praying you have the most amazing experience.

  2. GET IT, GIRL. I love this post so much. You approach a touchy subject with lots of grace and appreciation for all the ways babies come into this world — and you’re so right that each birth is a miracle. I opted for a medicated hospital birth (and yes, medication was my plan A, though I had no formal birth plan beyond “get me the epidural at the earliest possible moment”), and I can’t believe how much subtle (and often nonintentional) shaming I’ve encountered for not desiring a “natural birth experience” in a birthing center. It doesn’t work with my personality at all, and I felt so comfortable and at peace in my baby- and mother-friendly hospital. I’m so glad you’ve found an option where you feel comfortable and confident! Bonus: hospitals provide meals for the length of stay, so that’s a win.

  3. I had no birth plan… and am glad because things didn’t go the way I had planned and therefore, my expectations were not hindered. It wasn’t ideal, but I would do it all again tomorrow for baby Parks. I am praying for you and hope your labor/delivery goes well! Also our hospital was ‘baby friendly,’ too, which I now have a love/hate relationship with… 🙂 considering I couldn’t move/pick him up in the middle of the night when he was crying for five long days. {my husband is the heaviest sleeper ever- haha} And the lactation consultants were very unfriendly, abrasive, and closed-minded at our hospital due to the politics {take them with a grain of salt!!} You are going to be the BEST momma!! I am so very excited for you

    1. Did they not give you the option of placing him in the nursery? Ours does…

      I think what I’ve discovered is the ability for a mother to mother well has nothing to do with how their labor/delivery went…Parks is adorable and you are doing an amazing job!

  4. Amen!
    I appreciate this so much. My hubby and I aren’t planning on kids anytime soon, but I have already felt the pressure that many mom’s put on women who don’t have any intention of having a natural birth. So sad.

  5. What a beautiful and honest way to discuss this topic. I can’t agree more with your opinions about the matter. I found a doctor that had my best interests and interests for my baby throughout my whole pregnancy and delivery. I trusted him with my life. It’s important to be comfortable with whomever you choose to care for you during labor and your baby after delivery. That’s what matters 🙂

  6. I had an epidural (I told them if they could give me one before I even left home I’d appreciate it) and it was the best decision I made. I was able to enjoy the birth rather than endure the pain. Some people give me side-eye when I mention how enthusiastic for an epidural I was which is unfortunate. Whatever can get you through that time, do it. All that matters is that you and the baby are safe. Can’t wait to “meet” your little one!

  7. All of my babies were induced and I had an epidural. I knew the exact day they were coming and it helped me plan around them. My family was against it but Alex and I were sure of what we wanted and today we have three healthy babies. You’ll see that at the end of the day it’s all about you and Jordan being at peace with your decisions and everything/ everyone else kind of fades away. Hang in there girl!

  8. I think having OCD birth-plans is another way we limit ourselves as women. I think it really begins with comparing ourselves to people who have had “the” birth they really wanted, and then feeling we have to too. And “natural birth” is like the new marathon. (You aren’t healthy if you haven’t run a marathon. You’re not a real woman if you haven’t had natural birth.) I’ve had two babies naturally (not exactly by choice), and one with an epidural–you know what? It just didn’t matter. They were each hard and each required me to be exceptionally brave. Women really are amazing. I just wish we didn’t have to keep proving it to ourselves.

  9. Yeah, for real. Every woman should go wherever she feels SAFEST. For you it’s a hospital, for me it’s a birth center, and it’s so wonderful that we have these options! I prepped myself for an unmedicated birth with my last pregnancy. (I hate the term “natural birth” because all births are natural.) I was really pleased with the attitudes of my midwives and Bradley method teacher about hospitals/doctors/emergency procedures during labor- pitocin, c-sections, and epidurals exist for a reason and can save some high risk women’s lives! One woman I went to Bradley class with had to get an unexpected c-section, and the on-call midwife went with her to the hospital and she had a good experience! Some women have a bad experience with an epidural and opt for an unmedicated birth with their second baby and are much happier, or vice versa. Some women have no negative side effects from epidurals and love them for all their babies. So many options for us moms, and it’s ok to change our minds, too!
    Anyway, I know this is a very long comment, but I guess I’m just passionate about women supporting women!

  10. I love this! I totally agree- it seems like so many people can “look down” upon either themselves or others based on their birth choices…which I think is ridiculous. It’s all about that person’s specific needs and desires, and ultimately on the baby’s health!

  11. I had very different births for all three of these kiddos. Some parts aligned with whatever my ‘plan’ had been and many, many did not. One of the first things my midwife told me in my extensive prep for our first delivery was, it’s great to know what you’d like your birth plan to be, but be prepared for each and every piece of it to go out the window as each birth is different just like each baby is different. And you have to be able to swing with it so you don’t get frustrated in your laboring. no one type of birth is better than another – trust me, I’ve had three completely different ones!! You will rock your labor and delivery no matter what happens, girl!!

    1. What is most disheartening is the shame women carry with them over the “unexpected”….I’m not a crazy planner or all that particular, so I think my personality goes well with the unknown. Thanks for the encouragement!

  12. I had no idea what a baby friendly hospital was, but it was super helpful information. I’ll probably have an epidural when that time comes, but now I’ll know to look for a hospital that allows skin to skin contact immediately (I had no idea there were hospitals that didn’t allow that!!!).

  13. “We just have to remember that neither a birth center nor hospital childbirth won’t guarantee an easier time parenting your toddler. Your teenager won’t care how they were delivered.” Love that. They probably wont even want to hear about it. I hate all this judgemental mom stuff going around. All that matters is that people are doing their best.

  14. Well said!! Yes, ALL births are miraculous whatever plan/no plan you have! I have learned over the years no one knows your body better than you. Love you guys!!

  15. I completely agree, have a plan but know that it might not go that way. I had two natural births because I had quick labours so I was too late for drugs – the pethidine kicked in just after I’d given birth to my first and my body was already pushing by the time I was about to get an epidural the second time. I don’t know anyone who managed to have the birth they actually planned for!

  16. What a great post and honestly, it makes me feel better. I live in a super… hippie community. The two women I’ve been around were very staunchly all-natural, but I kept thinking “that sounds pretty awful!” I too would like to avail myself of Western medicines, but the shaming that goes on around here is ridiculous! While on the one hand, it’s a baby-friendly area, it seems like it’s only friendly if you do it their way. It makes me worried as we’re getting closer to having kids.

  17. Oh, my gosh. THANK YOU for sharing this! If it weren’t for medicine and surgery, either my babies or I would have died during birth. During my first I had preeclampsia, so we induced early, and then on top of that the baby’s heart wasn’t beating consistently AND he got stuck in the birth canal, so we ended up having to do an emergency c-section. Having experienced the birth canal issue the first time around, we knew we’d have to do a c-section the second time. Drs at both hospitals (in the States and in Austria) have said that childbirth would have been devastating or deadly for me (and or the babies) if the medicine and technology we have now hadn’t been available. People need to stop judging. Things don’t always work out the way we plan them to, but even so, who cares what our plans our for OUR OWN births, anyway!!?

  18. This is really good! I think that each mama-to-be should be able to come to a decision on her own and not feel shamed or pressured about her choices for childbirth. I’m 33 weeks now and have done a lot of research and praying and plan to have a natural birth because I feel that is best for me and my baby. When I found out he was breech and I might have to have a hospital birth and/or c-section I felt disappointed at first but have been reminding myself that medication and hospital intervention was invented for a reason and if we need it that is ok!

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