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Why birth plans are like battle plans


I read a couple of birthing books before I wrote my birth plan, and I took away a few of things:

-Epidurals are to be avoided

-Cesarean sections are to be avoided

-Natural births are the way to go

Well, guess what? I had an epidural, got a C-section, and threw away the dream of having a natural birth.

My goal in this post is to help encourage us as women to open our minds to see the bigger picture of childbirth and how our stories can be beautiful- even difficult ones.

I’ve witnessed many women sharing their birth stories in person and read posts online about feeling like a failure for having a c-section or needing to get an epidural. I totally get it. I was there. I knew the stats and facts about why getting induced is harmful to the birthing process, how an epidural slows down birthing, and why C-sections are so hard on mom and baby. I was my own advocate. I had read as much research and findings as I could, hired amazing midwives, and still- my birth plan was essentially ignored.

One of my favorite books was a book called Birthing from Within. In the book, many women shared their birth stories. Some experienced elation from childbirth, some extreme disappointment, some even trauma. The book stated helped me to realize that my story, however it turned out, is one to be celebrated, shared, and to feel gratitude.

I also once heard a woman tell me (and I wish I could remember whom shared this with me), that a birth plan is like a battle plan. It is good to go in with a plan, to train for the big day, to be my own advocate, and to try with all my heart to fight for our lives the best way I know possible. However, like a battle, I had one purpose and one purpose alone: for both me and baby to come out alive. In the end, that was all that really mattered. Having a plan was essential and important, but it was equally important to throw the plan away (and my pride) if need be and willing to listen to a back up plan if things got all out of sorts.

With the hope and strength I gained from that book, along with some wisdom I had heard from that woman, I felt so much peace going into birth. I knew I needed to stand up for myself and be my own strong voice throughout the process, to question and think critically- but in the end, surrender to how my body would deal with the mystery of childbirth.

My body did very poorly. Truth be told, if modern medicine and C-sections did not exist, I admit I probably would not be here today. I am certain my daughter would not. I ended up in labor over 32 hours, at which point I stopped dilating. I got an infection and a fever, starting vomiting beyond control (with no food in my system whatsoever), and pretty much was out of it for a long time. My daughter’s heart rate dropped and they found meconium in the amniotic fluid.  I had an emergency C-section. There was nothing I could do to stop it, nothing I could have done to prevent it. It happened so fast, so out of my control, and was so scary.

Yet, I don’t want to scare any woman, because as soon as my daughter was lifted out of me I felt nothing but joy. I remember thinking in that moment, “Yes, now I get it, I would do this again in a heartbeat.” The pain, the fear- all of it evaporated. This sounds completely crazy, but it was the most beautiful and fantastic adventure I have ever experienced. My daughter and I- we made it alive! Yes, we were almost defeated, I felt crushed at certain moments, certainty wavered, failure seemed inevitable- yet here we were- ALIVE together!

The next few days I pondered it all. I had come to realize my goals of having my “dream birth” did not happen. Yet, in light of all that had transpired, I wonder if my dream birth really did come true. Whereas before I viewed C-sections with such scrutiny and criticism, I now felt so thankful that there was a surgical procedure to save our lives in a sterile and safe environment. I felt so thankful for the hospital staff who had labored alongside me with such compassion and care, and above all, for my husband and sister who never took their loving eyes off me and who were my great support while I was in need.

If you are a mother-to-be, I encourage you to look forward to the process with joy. It may not happen the way you want it to, but know that as soon as you hear that baby crying your heart will be stilled and filled with so much love!

There is so much pressure on us as women to do things a certain way.  Yet, I hope other mother’s can let go if they feel like a failure or a disappointment over the birthing process. There are so many uncontrollable factors that go into it- all you can really do is try your best to be your own advocate, choose healthcare providers that will share your beliefs and goals, and set your eyes on one precious prize: to have a healthy baby.

Our stories and journey’s are all so different and so beautiful. Just like our babies. I firmly believe there is no “one right way” to have a baby, because each birth story is a beautiful journey and story of love between a  mother and her child.

I am aware that some women have experienced great loss during childbirth, and know a few who have. My heart goes out to you if you have ever experienced loss in the birthing process.

Did your birth story happen the way you wanted it to? What beautiful “moments” do you recall during your birthing journey? How do you feel about the process now, in retrospect? Have you learned anything you want to share with all of us?

Birthing books that are highly recommended:

Pushed by Jennifer Block

Childbirth without fear by Grantly Dick-Read

Natural childbirth the Bradley way by Susan McCutcheon

Psalm 139:13
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.

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  • Reply Cindy

    Isn’t that the truth? They can be like battle plans. Our first child we had one but were very go with the flow, which is good since medically we didn’t have a choice. So blessed by my blessings 🙂

    March 12, 2015 at 9:41 am
  • Reply Natalie V.

    This is a wonderful post! I, too, went in completely prepared for an all-natural birth, but because of some severe complications (meconium in my amniotic fluid, infection, fever, etc.), I had to have an emergency c-section. I felt SO ashamed that I’d “failed” for so long afterwards when I absolutely shouldn’t have. Like you, my daughter and I probably wouldn’t have been here if I hadn’t had the option of a c-section. Birth is miraculous no matter how it occurs! 🙂

    March 12, 2015 at 12:00 pm
  • Reply Michelle

    My last daughter was born 24 years ago and without a C-section, she would not be here today. She was born with spina bifida and her passing through the birth canal was not an option or she would have died. So after two prior natural births and a wonderful mid-wife for those two, I skipped reading the c-section part of the books because I thought, “it won’t happen to me.” Well, SURPRISE, it did, didn’t even see it coming. So, it happens, even with all good intentions on planning your birthing choice. Birth is a miracle no matter how they come into the world!

    March 12, 2015 at 2:59 pm
  • Reply Liz Mays

    I was of course pretty scared both times I gave birth. It was so worth it in the end though.

    March 12, 2015 at 3:19 pm
  • Reply Nicole E.

    I didn’t even get to make a birth plan. My son was born at 32 weeks. I was planning on making a plan around 36 weeks, lol. Guess it’s good I didn’t?

    March 12, 2015 at 3:45 pm
  • Reply Penny @ pennyspassion.blogspot

    The plan should be to just deliver the baby. lol It was great to hear your story. Thanks for sharing.

    March 12, 2015 at 10:45 pm
  • Reply Ricci

    I’m not a mom so I’ve never had a birth plan but I think each birth is beautiful in its own way no matter if it’s the way you planned or not.

    March 13, 2015 at 8:26 am
  • Reply chubskulit

    I had two C-section because of the condition I have had during my pregnancies. I was going on a natural method of giving birth of my first when her umbilical chord wrapped around her neck so they had to rush me to the operating room. With my second, I got pregnancies so close to my first one that I had to undergo with CS again, hence the epidurals.

    March 13, 2015 at 9:08 am
  • Reply Trisha Grimes

    I wrote a birth plan with my first but nothing went the way I wanted it to go but I have absolutely no regrets! With my second, I didn’t write a birth plan but I ended up having to get induced anyway. I was upset about it but normally perfect blood pressure was very high and it was necessary. Still, both births were beautiful. =)

    March 13, 2015 at 9:50 am
  • Reply Echo (The Mad Mommy)

    I know a lot of people that have had birth plans, but I didn’t really have one. My “birth plan” was to have a healthy baby and I am lucky enough that I got that, twice!

    March 13, 2015 at 11:57 am

    I don’t know if you can call this a birth plan but when I gave birth to my three babies, all I ever prayed was to give birth to a healthy baby and go normal. We don’t have money to pay for a c-section so I just have to endure them all. I had epidurals for my first two babies though.

    March 14, 2015 at 4:45 am
  • Reply Cherri Megasko

    As I read your story it sounded amazingly similar to my daughter’s. She had spent so much time developing her birth plan. They even bought a pool and took it to the hospital with them in case the two that the hospital had were unavailable. But once there, they discovered my grandson was breech. Her birth plan was deserted and she had an emergency C-Section. But all turned out great. I like the analogy of a battle plan. It is very fitting.

    March 14, 2015 at 3:54 pm
  • Reply caroline | thecarodiaries

    Wow! The idea of giving birth still creeps me out (that’s how I know I’m not ready to grow up!!) My mom had 4 out of her 6 kids naturally but had me and my brother via C-section!

    March 14, 2015 at 10:21 pm
  • Reply Victoria H

    I only did a birth plan with my last son. I did a home birth with a midwife and it was a great experience. It was much better than my first two boys birth which took place in a hospital.

    March 15, 2015 at 10:17 am
  • Reply Cara of Stylish+Geek Blog

    I really really appreciate your post! I had a natural child birth with no epidural. But I did not expect not to produce enough milk to breast feed so I had to supplement with formula. My world didn’t end when things didn’t come accordingly to the birth plan and so I am considerate enough to absolutely respect each woman to do their own research and decide on their own because every person is different and things are not always what we expect.

    March 15, 2015 at 6:23 pm
  • Reply Rochkirstin Santos

    I’m not yet thinking about all these because getting pregnant is still not relevant as of this time. It’s too great that you had a successful surgical procedure. I can only wish to be safe and smooth labor in the future.

    March 15, 2015 at 8:43 pm
  • Reply Tiany Davis

    While I did have a birth plan, nothing ever really went as planned. lol Maybe I was not as prepared as I thought but between emergency inductions or a c-section, the birth plan went out the window. I was very disappointed when things went differently than I had planned, looking back I wish I would have given myself and the process a bit more grace.

    March 15, 2015 at 11:34 pm
  • Reply Peachy @ The Peach Kitchen

    I didn’t go into labor as I had to undergo C-Section immediately. I was going to be induced but my waterbag broke and they found out that my baby had pooped inside my tummy.

    March 16, 2015 at 2:52 am
  • Reply NurseryBooks

    Thank you for your post. Do whatever it takes to have baby and mommy safe should be a rule of thumb. So please do not listen to women which consider c-section has cheating. emergency c-section is just your new birth plan. So congratulation! you are a new mom of a healthy baby (ies) !!! 🙂 -end of the story-

    March 16, 2015 at 7:21 am
  • Reply Jenny @ Unremarkable Files

    Glad you were able to be at peace about it. My birth with #5 was really traumatic for me and I’m still not over it a year (plus) later.

    March 17, 2015 at 12:15 pm
  • Reply Hannah Scott

    This is really wonderful. I’m training now to be a doula, and it’s so important to read perspectives like yours so I can know how to best support each woman in their birth plan….and when things don’t go as planned!

    March 17, 2015 at 9:16 pm
  • Reply Mia Myrabev

    I have never really thought about birth plans before, well since i am not a mummy yet but i know most people’s one go out the window I guess when my time comes i will go with the flow. Great post

    March 18, 2015 at 4:52 pm
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