Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Birth Plan

I've been wanting to write Lucia's birth story, not so much to record her specific birth but as a testament to the grace and beauty of a natural birth, a midwife birth, a birth center birth.  I've sat down so many times to write it and I just can't seem to find my way.  She just recently turned three months, and I figure I better write it soon or I might begin to forget. 

I realized that I have already written something that portrays a birth center birth: my birth plan.  The birth center required that I write a birth plan, but left it up to me as to what it would entail.  I searched online for birth plans and printed out a few in checklist form, but when I started working through them with my husband, I realized that most of the options just didn't apply.  I didn't have to say that I didn't want an epidural because it wasn't even available at the birth center.  There was no need to request a room with a bathtub, because all the rooms had one and the midwives encouraged women to labor in them.  My baby would room-in with me, wouldn't be offered formula, and I would be encouraged to breastfeed within the first hour.  Had I been giving birth in a hospital, I would have gone in with a birth plan much like a soldier goes in with armor; it would have functioned as my protection against medicalized birth that I so wanted to avoid.  But since I was birthing at a birth center, I really struggled to write anything at all because I knew that my ideal birth was the birth center's norm.  Here's what I finally came up with:

  • I would like a natural birth with as few interventions as possible.  I don’t want to be offered any pain medication unless I first ask for it. 
  • For pain relief, I would like to try hydrotherapy, hot/cold therapy, and frequent changes of position.
  • If I have back labor pain, I’d like to try sterile water papules. 
  • Daddy would like to catch the baby and cut the umbilical cord.
  • No eye drops for the baby after birth.
  • If any potentially life-threatening  circumstances arise (to mother or baby) at the birth center or after transfer the hospital, please contact a Catholic priest as soon as possible.

Had I birthed at a hospital, my birth center would have been filled with "don't" and "no".  Instead it was mostly suggestions of what I thought might want (which really wasn't necessary; I would have been offered various comfort measures anyway).  Looking back, I should have probably made a more detailed birth plan in case I needed to be transferred to the hospital.  Although in that case, a midwife would have accompanied me and I would have trusted her to keep the birth as close to the natural, birth center ideal as possible.  

My birth plan was followed perfectly.  A few of the items ended up being irrelevant (I didn't have back labor and there was never an emergency situation necessitating a priest), but I'm glad they were there in case I ended up needing them.   Prior to given birth (and since), I've read and heard a lot of negativity about birth plans - that they are unrealistic, or that you might as well not write one, or story after story of women who had a birth plan outlining a natural birth and ended up with a c-section.  So I'm putting this out there to say that there are women who've had their ideal birth too, and if it's possible for them it's possible for you too.   

If you write a birth plan, prepare well for your birth, and still end up having it go a different direction, you'll have the comfort of knowing that you did everything you could and that it just wasn't meant to be.  If you end up with the c-section or epidural you were so trying to avoid because it was absolutely necessary, don't fret.  Just don't end up there because you weren't able to advocate for yourself.  And if you want a natural birth, seriously consider a birth center or home birth.  It makes it a whole lot easier to avoid a medicalized birth if you are in a place where it is neither an option or an expectation.   

11 comments:

  1. I feel totally the same as you about natural birth & so desperately wanted one. I did loads of prep & research etc..in the end I wasn't allowed to birth in the midwife unit (which is the same as a birthcentre it just happens to be attached to the hospital in my city) because my baby was so overdue & I therefore became high risk. I feel so so saddened & cheated by the fact I ended up with a back to back, medicalised, forceps delivery with a long recovery because he was stuck. I have come to accept it now but really struggled in the months after his birth as I felt I should have been able to do better, like so many of my friends did.

    Am due in 9 weeks with my second & want nothing more than to have a completely opposite experience, hopefully in water with no anaesthetic & no instruments.. please pray my baby is in the right position & comes on time!

    Great post by the way, very empowering.

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  2. Liana Eisenman-WolfordMarch 13, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    I had a detailed birth plan because the birthing center I used was inside a hospital, so not as supportive of natural birth as what you described. That being said, they followed my plan to the letter and were not at all aggressive. So, YES! Birth plans can work! :-) Thanks for spreading the word.

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  3. Liana, I should have been more specific and said I birthed at a free-standing birth center (not connected to a hospital).  So glad your birth plan was honored!

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  4. I had never heard of a "Birth Center" until you mentioned it when you had Lucia. Then like the next week I passed one near me!

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  5. I am EXTREMELY TERRIFIED of childbirth. Like, spine-tingling, hot and cold flashes, prickly sweat terrified. I think much of this comes from the fear of needles, IV's, surgical procedures and creepy hospital rooms. When I chose my OBGYN, I picked one that was a nurse midwife for this reason. Hopefully, when the time comes, she can advocate for me so I don't spend the proceeding 9 months in utter fear and anxiety. 

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  6. You live in Florida, right? I don't think there are any birth centers in Florida (at least not an accredited one). Some hospitals call their maternity wards "birth centers" so that might be what you drove by but they aren't the same thing as a free standing birth center. If you pass by it again, you should let me know what it's called so I can look it up.

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  7. Paige, are there any birth centers near you. I didn't experience any of the things you said you are worried about at my birth center, so I would highly recommend them. If there isn't one available or if you are too high risk to be able to birth in a birth center, you definitely are going with the best option - a midwife!

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  8. You have my prayers! Sorry to hear that your birth experience wasn't what you wanted, but it sounds like it wasn't your fault! Prayers that this one will go much smoother!

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  9. I would love to go to a birth center but I'm afraid my husband might think it is not okay because of society's view on the subject. Maybe he will be all for it though.
    Are they (midwives and birth centers) covered by insurance?

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  10. Wow, I JUST did a post on my blog about my labor fears and how I conquered each and everyone of them when the time came!  (
    http://windmillers.blogspot.com/2012/03/conquering-my-fears.html )  I was also scared of the IV, the epidural, etc etc.  Our hospital room wasn't creepy at all.  As for this post, I didn't really walk in with a birth plan.  I had discussed a few things with my doctor beforehand, but was mostly just kind of a "go with the flow" and it went great!

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  11. Okay it looks like a rundown house that says "Birthing Center" I think. Like you said it may not be accredited unless it is affiliated with Flagler Hospital (although I think it is a couple miles away). Or it could have been a Birthing Center and is no longer opened. I'll let you know.

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