A Birth Plan – Proactive or Irresponsible?

I started writing this post as a preface to my next post revision of my birth preferences letter, but I’m so freakin’ annoyed today that I decided to just put it all out there separately and get it off my chest. It feels better anyway to keep my birth preferences posts happy and positive because that is how I feel about this upcoming birth: I am calm. I am hopeful. I am excited. I am educated.

As a quick recap, I am planning on a hypnobabies midwife-assisted hospital birth (a compromise between me and the hubby – I wanted home water birth, he was more comfortable with a hospital birth). The only reason an OB would be involved is if an emergency c-section became necessary for the health of me or the baby. This decision was made after a lot of research on my part during the TTC hell years. Before, I had always assumed (induction + epidural = baby) was the only way to go. I no longer feel that way. I also don’t sit here and judge women who haven’t come to the same conclusion as me – it’s a hugely personal decision. I’ve been blogging here about my personal preferences simply because I hoped people might find some of my research helpful when they’re making their own decisions.

So here’s the deal. Both my midwives at my practice and the nurses at my hospital specifically requested that I come with my birth preferences written out. They are all of the belief that it’s a positive thing to be prepared and to understand the options available to us as parents, both during the birthing time and during the first hours and days of a baby’s life. I truly appreciate that – it’s an amazing feeling to know that my thoughts, hopes, and concerns will all be heard and honored whenever possible. It’s a huge reason I chose the midwife practice that I did, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the wonderful working relationship they have with the nurses at our local hospital as well.

… this is where I start getting pissed off.

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of posts in the IF world that are highly critical of women like me who want natural births, and specifically I’ve read a lot of posts that are hugely critical of those mothers who come in with a birth plan – like that somehow makes me needy and demanding and unrealistic. I have read multiple posts and comments where it was stated that women like me are somehow “asking” for things to go wrong because I have an idea of how I’d like/hope things go during our birthing time, and that I’m somehow putting my baby in danger by stating my birth preferences.

These are often the same people who perpetuate fear and horror stories about birthing having to be an incredibly painful process full of complications and basically say that it’s irresponsible to want to try a more natural approach, especially without the option of hospital interventions in the room. This drives me INSANE, especially because I truly believe that a huge amount of the complications and “emergency” c-sections we have in America are actually caused by all of the hospital interventions that have somehow become standard now days in our country. Did you know that 1 in 3 first time moms give birth via c-section in the US? That is one of the highest rates of all the industrialized nations of the world – there is something hugely disturbing with that statistic. Birthing can be a long process, and I think that often times the doctors, the nurses, and even the birth mother get too impatient to move things along and intervene before it’s necessary or even prudent. YES there are emergency situations where a c-section has saved the life of mother and/or child, and it is wonderful that we have that option, but I 100% believe there is absolutely no way that women’s bodies which were CREATED to birth babies should have a 1 in 3 chance of needing a major abdominal surgery in order to safely birth the child.

This kind of got off track, but my points are these:


*I believe that having a birthing preferences letter in place will help my midwives and nurses to know and respect my hopes and wishes for this birthing experience whenever possible.

AND

*That in no way means that my utmost goal isn’t to have a birth experience that includes a healthy mommy and baby at the end. 

 …so please, for the love of God, quit saying that I’m somehow unrealistic, irresponsible and putting my body and my baby at risk by arriving at the hospital with a birth plan.

Btw, RockStar is kicking in agreement with me right now, so I know I’m right. πŸ™‚

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32 comments

  1. I never even knew women felt it unrealistic to having a birthing plan. Anywho I guess I will join the unrealistic bunch because ever since you mentioned hypnobirthing a few posts back it peaked my curiosity. I had never heard of it…I know about hypnobabies (my hypnotists wife is also a hypnotist and that is her focus). I also wanted to ask about your decisions for the no Vitamin E in the eyes and stuff. I am so wrapped up in researching IF stuff that I rarely think ahead to the birthing plan. I'll try to send you an e-mail. I'm all for having a plan!

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  2. FYI for people reading this – hypnobirthing (which is closer to the bradley method) and hypnobabies are two totally different birthing programs. I'll do a post on it one of these days. πŸ™‚ Nini – feel free to email me anytime with questions!

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  3. This totally shocks me, because I haven't really read anyone's blog that had such a wild opinion like that. I always have admired the birthing plans I've seen, ESPECIALLY yours. It opened my eyes to all kinds of things I never thought were possible except on TLC's Baby Story. Seriously, though, having a plan is super important. I have given more and more thought to this because I do feel like I am one of these people that can sometimes be easily influenced. So if I include in my plan that I need things to be quiet, and that I don't want drugs freely offered to me every time I squeal, then I feel like I can handle a lot more than I would otherwise. I'm glad you vented about this, because I think you are about to get overwhelmed with comments from people that passionately support your decision to have a plan in place.Have a great weekend! Can't wait to read your birth plan revisions πŸ™‚

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  4. Dude, I fell in love with you a little bit more after this post. OF COURSE you should have a birth plan! If you don't have one, then the doctors make it for you. And anyone who assumes that this is somehow bad for you or your baby can just fuck the fuck off. It's your decision and I think it will be amazing. πŸ™‚

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  5. I don't think you could be more prepared going into having a baby. We have to be our own advocates, just as we've had to be during the IF times. If we don't do it for ourselves, who will? The doctors? I think you are totally in the right for having a birth plan and no one should fault you for that.

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  6. I just told Sarah at Baby Talkthis the other day. Why people think they have any right to even have a freaking opinion on your birth plan (assuming it's safe for you and the baby and I happen to know that it is), is beyond me. Having a birth plan just makes so much sense (no matter how simple or run of the mill the plan may sound). You are doing the responsible thing and don't ever let anyone tell you different (although I suspect you won't…you're a tough cookie). πŸ™‚

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  7. I am totally with you on having a birth plan and as natural of a birth as possible. I actually have written out a birthing plan, should we ever be blessed to give birth to one of our children. I also agree that the c-section rate is alarmingly high… it's even higher than one in three in the state I live in (a state with one of the highest c-section rates in our nation).Both of my sisters have gone the induction/epidural route. My brother is finishing up med school and has gone through his OB rotation. He's very supportive of our birthing plan and our desire to keep any birth we may have as natural as possible. He did insist that we give birth in a hospital should an emergency arise, but he's a complete advocate and has promised to do what he can to ensure that the doctors of the hospital I give birth in stick to our birthing plan (unless it's a hospital he has privileges in, in which case he'll be a part of our team but not in the room when we actually deliver).Anyhow… I think a birthing plan is responsible and would advocate for every woman to have one. Too many things happen that mother's don't want or that aren't necessarily the best for the baby. Birthing plans could help prevent a lot of what can turn couples off to giving birth in hospitals.I hope all stays according to your birthing plan with Rockstar!!! πŸ™‚

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  8. Rock on, Rockstar's Mom!

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  9. I think whenever you choice a alternative way of birthing you will get criticism. Don't listen to it. I am planing on doing Hynobirthing and prefer not to tell anyone because I get angry every time I get a response like "Ohh ok, we'll see how that goes." Anyway, long story short, I completely understand how you feel. In my class we were told to avoid listening to others birth stories and thoughts till after the birth so you can fill your mind with only positive thoughts.

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  10. I think it's wonderful to have a birth plan and be informed about birth! Knowledge truly is power (even if things don't go according to plan) in something as big as childbirth.I think some of the criticism is rooted in fear and past experiences. No doubt when some of us began TTC, we had a plan and a time line all laid out in our heads. It was all going to go according to plan and be PERFECT. But then IF entered the picture and it didn't go according to plan and it wasn't so perfect. When that still haunts you (and it haunted me a long time, even after my daughter was born), you may think that all of your plans will automatically not work out so why bother planning. A bit extreme but I think it's a result of being "burned" by IF. Along those lines, I also think it's fear. Fear that something, ANYTHING will happen to this baby that took so long to conceive. It can make a homebirth sound dangerous (even though in most cases it's not), a midwife attended birth sound dangerous, etc. I had friends that went through IF who were not high risk but saw a high risk OB during their pregnancies for no other reason than fear. Like being a tier above a regular OB would somehow protect them and their babies more. So, I do think fear can make people want to trust an OB 110% (forgetting that they, too, are human and not always right).

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  11. ah people…I hope everything goes as close to your birth plan as possible!have you seen that movie that Ricki lake made? the business of being born? it is ridiculous how much medical intervention is common place in labor these days.

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  12. Wow, I can't believe other women are so critical about how someone else gives birth. "To each their own" I say! I have no idea about how I would give birth but would hope no one would criticize my choices. I think you have done an excellent job on knowing what you want for the birth of your baby and for your body. Thanks for all the info, as I have really learned a lot about different birthing options and the choices that are available from your blog.

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  13. I hope in no way did my "TVT" post and mention of my lack-thereof-birth plan offend you in any way 😦 I definitely think it's proactive to have some kind of birth plan. Whether it's detailed or very basic. So if I wasn't the one that pissed you off and other people are really making negative comments towards you about your birth plan, I'll repeat the advice manymanymoons gave me yesterday. "Tell them to mind their fucking business." πŸ™‚

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  14. A huge part of my soul loves you right now. And its the part of my soul that is being eaten alive by taking the high road and being silent about certain things. xoxo to you and rockstar.

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  15. I hate when people get all rude in response to other peoples ideas. There are a thousand ways to give birth and a thousand ways to parent, and everyone gets to pick. Sorry you are dealing with people making comments on your plans. I made a sort of birth plan and then it got thrown out the window, but I was okay with it. In retrospect, I wish I had taken a more proactive approach and given my body more time and more credit. I definitely took the easy road by accepting the epidural. But there's always the next baby, if we're lucky enough to get pregnant again. Don't stress that baby out on people's comments, rockstar knows you're doing what you think is best for her.

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  16. I'm sure my last post was one that upset you. I'm sorry for that, but my opinion is just that….mine. I do not feel comfortable with the type of birth plan you have for my birthing experience. But I respect you and your decision to have a birth plan and may it all go as you hope. I stated that in my post, but I fear my strong PERSONAL feelings against a birth plan for ME was too overshadowing for that point to be thoroughly made. I apologize if my feelings upset you as they were not meant to upset anyone. However, I hope you respect my choices for my birthing experiences as the differ from yours as I respect your choices for your birthing experience. Again, I apologize if my feelings and opinions upset you…..

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  17. I think everyone needs some kind of plan whether it's written down or in your head, just to help cope with a fear of the unknown. I'm not writing anything out, but will make it clear that I want him out of me with as little pain as possible and without a c-section, if possible. Why does everyone get so judgy when it comes to babies? I had a friend tell me that I shouldn't even consider an IV b/c it goes to the baby. Maybe I want him to be stoned! Anyway, I totally agree – do what you want and tell everyone else to leave you alone! Oh, and watch this week's episode of Up All Night, if you haven't already.

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  18. Hey there. I don't know much about birth plans and only heard of them once I got pregnant. I agree wight them, because no one should tell or make your birthing experience based on their opinions or practice. It is YOUR experience of bringing your child to this world and you have every right to write the screenplay. And about the c-sections….yeah what's with that. MY friend in Cali will only be a week overdue by the time she has a scheduled c-section. That does not happen here. overkill or what.

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  19. Love it, Josey! As you know, I'm having a planned c-section because I have to. Both of my twins are breech and it would obviously be incredibly dangerous any other way. However, I thoroughly discussed with my doctor my desires for the day of, even if "labor" isn't a part of it. Details like requesting that my arms not be tied down and requesting that my husband cut the cords that are remaining on the babies…I don't want to just hope that things go as I see them in my head. Not to say that everything will go as planned- of course, if something is wrong and the babies need to be taken to the NICU, etc…everything changes. But having desires for how it goes, making those desires known- there's nothing, absolutely nothing, wrong about that. That being said- it could be someone's birth plan to ensure they get the epidural right away and that if after 10 hours the baby isn't out- they go in and get it…it's all about how the parents advocate for themselves and their health as well as their children's. While I won't be joining you in your all natural birth, I envy you and wish NOTHING but the absolute best. I hope it goes just as you see it…mostly the part with the beautiful, healthy baby in your arms afterward!:) Oh man…we're getting close!

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  20. I can't imagine any pregnant woman not having a birth plan, at least in their head. It makes so much more sense to document your wishes so that when things are hectic, everyone knows your choices.It's not like you will refuse to deviate from your plan if something happens and your baby is in danger/distress. I know of some people who have to write birth plans to keep their mother-in-law out the room (a very good idea if you have a MIL who will stress you out!!)your baby, your body, your decisions (with DH and medical input obviously)

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  21. Good for you! I agree 100 times over with you, and hated when people said that birth plans only made it so things WOULD go wrong. That is such ridiculous superstition, and whether you have a "plan" or not, I think you'd be hard put to find a woman who is not disappointed to have a c-section, so don't we all have at least an idea of how we want things to go? At the same time, I know that some people are down on birth plans after feeling so let down from their first experience going differently than how they planned, but not having a birth plan at all is not the answer to that disappointment. I definitely felt that way after my son's birth (planned homebirth turned hospital + epidural) but it just meant, for me, that I looked for more ways to feel supported and strengthened this time around. I did a lot more reading and practiced coping techniques, and it made a huge difference this time around. Also, it drives me crazy that some people think that, just because you went through IF you should just take whatever comes your way in terms of L & D. As Stephanie said, you have to be your own advocate throughout IF, why not throughout your pregnancy and birthing experience too?

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  22. I personally have no problem with a natural birth if that's the way someone chooses to go and would not critisize them for that decision. However, I DO think that those wo are all about natural are just as critical of those who want medical intervention and pain relief as they say we are of them. I wish everyone would be less judgemental of each other.

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  23. I personally have no problem with a natural birth if that's the way someone chooses to go and would not critisize them for that decision. However, I DO think that those wo are all about natural are just as critical of those who want medical intervention and pain relief as they say we are of them. I wish everyone would be less judgemental of each other.

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  24. Hear hear – on much of it. I was also a little freaked out by the C section rate! i did have one with my first, but it was due to him being in a totally bizarre position. Natural VBAC for the second, and getting sewn back up afterwards was WAY more painful than the birth itself. I think if you expect it to be painful, it will, if you don't – well, you just don't know. My birth plan was kinda tossed out the window by the fact that I got to the hospital pretty much when I needed to start pushing – but I was still glad I had thought about what I wanted, and talked to my doc about it to make sure she was on board. (And the way I did it, I *did* get to eat/drink while in labor, he he.)I never expected that everything would go exactly the way I wanted it to (kinda like my wedding!), but I agree – if you have a roadmap you're much less likely to end up in a place you really don't want to be.

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  25. Just found your post through a little blog-hopping, and I couldn't resist commenting. ;)I had an unmedicated doula-assisted hospital birth using Hypnobabies last December, and it was easily the single raddest experience of my life. If I couldn't have the conception experience I wanted (we have an IVF baby), I was determined to do my very best to set up my birth experience to be as close to what I dreamed and hoped it'd be. At the time I was pregnant, I worked on L&D and in the NICU (not as a nurse) and I told my nurse counterparts there that I'd made a birth plan, and they all gasped at me. "It's the kiss of death! Don't bring it with you to the hospital!" they all said, because it seems like every time a laboring woman came with a birth plan the delivery went all screwy and the plan fell a part and the woman was distraught. This, I thought, was the stupidest thing I'd ever heard, and I forged ahead with my plan and my intent to have my nurse slap it right on the front of my chart when I showed up to have my baby. I see it like you, that it was a PREFERENCE for how things proceed. Researching my preferences educated me, and I think this also made me feel confident that should things deviate from my plan, I had a good knowledge base for making any sudden, unexpected decisions. Be proud of your plan, take it with you, and feel confident in your preferences and your ability to adapt them should you need to. I labored at home for a while until it was way too intense, and when I finally conceded to my husband that it was time to go to the hospital, I was so disappointed that I wasn't able to labor at home for longer. I had no way of knowing that I was already 9cm dilated–and that I HAD actually done some good laboring at home! Just sharing that because I solidly believe it was the Hypnobabies. πŸ™‚ Good luck!

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  26. Hmm… interesting comments. ;)Amen sista! Women should be more supportive of each other in all aspects. It's not a competition and there's no right or wrong. It's what you want.

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  27. I love that you're fireball. And all I can say is that I am SO stoked to even be reading that you need a "birth plan". Yay! πŸ˜‰

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  28. You obviously know how I feel, but I am so glad you wrote this post.

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  29. There are just too many loud mouth, ignorant fools out there that think an epidural/c-section are the only way out.You're going to give this a go. If it doesn't work, who cares. As long as you both leave the hospital healthy, it won't matter how you arrived. What will matter, is that you tried. I cannot wait to hear how it goes. No matter what happens, it's better to be educated and to have made decisions than to just have the dr/nurses lead you.You'll do great and F those that think you won't.People are so g.d. annoying sometimes.

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  30. Yikes! While our hospital does not stress bringing in a birth plan it is encouraged. Also they have a coordinator that meets with you after you tour the facility and if you do not have a birth plan on your own actually asks you most of the questions on a basic birth plan to make sure they have your preferences written down. This is kept in the file until you come into delivery and then it is put on the front of your chart.

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  31. I didn't have much of a birth plan, and here's why. I have no feelings of ill toward them, btw.I didn't have much of a plan because I didn't want to "set myself up." I didn't want to go in expecting "this this this this" and when some or even all of that didn't turn out to be possible, I didn't want to feel disappointment. All I wanted to feel during my birth was "zen" and "okay". I was ready for any scenario, which was a good thing because I ended up with an emergency C section and am wildly thankful for it.I had a friend who had a baby a couple of months after me. She was set on a natural birth and even left the birthing class the day they talked about C sections because she was so sure that wouldn't be her. When her labor went long and was BEYOND difficult, she panicked because she felt like a huge failure, to herself, her baby, and her husband. Then it became clear they'd need a C section and she had a terrifying out of body experience wherein she thought she could feel them cutting (she couldn't) and completely panicked.I think a lot of the terrifying anxiety could have been avoided had she gone in with an open mind and heart.My only "plan" was to come home with a healthy baby. I brought a specially made CD and some movies, I brought my husband and two trusted friends and a bag of suckers and some good lotion, socks, and massage oil. I brought my laptop and some reading material (ha). I told my doctor I wanted to go med free as long as I wanted to go med free, and if I asked for an epidural not to question me. I told her I wanted a C section only in the event it was truly medically necessary (it was). Beyond that, I was ready to do whatever my body, my baby, and my situation demanded.There's nothing wrong with letting your peeps know how you feel about particulars like drugs and episiotomies (I didn't want one) and birthing positions, etc. I say go for it. Just go in also ready to be flexible when the "plan" goes awry. I hate to see women get too caught up in the birthing part of the plan instead of in the ultimate outcome, which is the BABY!!! You will have that rockstar in your arms, one way or another, and at the end of the day that's all that really matters.

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  32. I just wanted to let you know how unrealistic you are.In thinking that people will stop judging! Ha! It's the interwebs, it's what people do ;)I think you're fantastic to have a set of preferences. That's all they are- you know that there's a big chance that not everything will go perfectly, but they at least set you up to make the most informed decisions about what matters most to you and your husband. Keep doing what you're doing- it's obviously worked so far! Congrats πŸ™‚

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