I am 36 weeks pregnant, which means out of the high-risk preterm labor zone and ready to think about a term baby coming into the world safe and healthy. I started taking prenatal yoga once per week and we hired a doula.
With my firstborn I took classes and read all I could about pregnancy and childbirth. I had a grand PLAN of birthing naturally and those expectations turned into 12 hours of ruptured membranes with no progression, which lead to Pitocin, back labor, an epidural, 23 minutes of pushing, an episiotomy, and two beautiful hours of Kangaroo care with my healthy boy. Was it exactly as I had planned? No. And I can remember the exact moment that I had to let go of my PLAN and focus on the goal of a healthy baby and Mama.
But with that goal in mind, I have never met a pregnant person who has absolutely no thoughts or expectations about the birth of their child. There is a baby inside of you and it must come out; clearly you’ve hypothesized how that might happen. A recent Kveller post asked, “Why bother with a birth plan?” and I think having something written down helps other people to know what your hopes are. Even more so, a birth plan helps women embrace their own birth experience and avoid looking back and feeling like someone told you what to do. You know yourself better than anyone else; if anything, embrace that.
For example, this is a rough draft of my “Birth Vision”:
I don’t react well to pharmaceutical opiods (Morphine, Nubain, Demerol) and I want to be as mentally “present” as possible so I don’t want those administered or even offered “to take the edge off.”
I tested positive for Group B strep so I will receive two doses of intravenous antibiotics during labor. I understand why this is required and want to avoid any complications or NICU time for my son. However, I will request a Hep-lock so that I don’t have to bounce around on a birthing ball holding an IV pole.
I like facts and data. I know this about myself so I would like to be checked for dilatation and I am okay with intermittent monitoring of my baby. It will put me at ease to know he is okay in there while I’m wailing obscenities and breaking my husband’s fingers off.
I am open to an epidural but want to make every effort to birth unmedicated. I could have phrased this in many different ways but I feel like closing my mind off entirely to an epidural may set me up for disappointment. With my son, I made it to transition on Pitocin before asking for an epidural because I expected the pain would become exponentially worse and I lost confidence in myself. I have faith that I can absolutely tolerate an unmedicated birth. Does it scare me? Of course. Do I want a medal for going natural? No. I don’t want my choices to be guided by fear and I hope for an easier recovery without intervention. That being said, if I’ve labored for 18 hours and know my body is reaching exhaustion, I might be okay with an epidural. If it looks like I may need a C-section, I’d rather have an epidural placed than be completely sedated. What I really want is for the people with me to know that if I want an epidural, I will ask you for it. Until then, let’s not discuss it.
The hours after my first son was born could not have been more perfect and in a way redeemed 10 weeks of bed rest and an altered birth plan. Assuming this baby is healthy and able, I would like the following to happen:
I would like for him to be handed to me immediately after he is born and warmed on my chest. I would like him to remain there for as long as possible and any APGAR scores or measurements to be taken from there.
If possible, I would like for his bath to be given at my bedside and his hearing test to be done in the room.
I would like to room in and not have him taken from me unless I specifically request it.
I want to delay his Hepatitis B injection.
My doula says that the most important things are to keep your “vision” to one page so that it can be read quickly by providers and staff, and to keep it positive. It’s more openly received if you say what you would like rather than what you want to avoid. Becoming a mother in and of itself is empowering but birth becomes more powerful with knowledge and ownership.
Lastly, after my son is birthed, weighed, fed, washed, and wrapped, I would like a turkey sandwich. Possibly two.