I’ve had three babies vaginally and then I had a c-section with my fourth. My advice to expectant moms? Make a birth plan and then try to relax because you can’t control everything (even if you think you can). Birth plans are absolutely a great thing and I think all women should make one regardless of their preferences. Why? Because birth plans cause you to research and educate yourself about labor and delivery and that is never a bad thing. In order to know what you prefer, you need to know your options. It’s not about choosing how your birth is going to go, or guaranteeing anything – it’s about knowing about childbirth. We should all know about pain management options, how a cesarean goes down, what forceps and vacuum extraction looks like, what the pros and cons of having your membranes ruptured artificially are, and MUCH more! If you go in blindly, you are at a disadvantage.
I went to a childbirth class near the end of my first pregnancy and basically got an overview of a typical labor and delivery. I felt happy with the knowledge I had yet was very much naïve when it came to interventions, complications, and drugs’ side effects. I didn’t have a birth plan. I intend on writing the full birth story eventually, but for now suffice it to say that things did not go well. It was a shock to me, for sure. She was born healthy but I had a lot to deal with emotionally afterward.
With my second birth, I knew I didn’t want any narcotics because of the effect they’d had on me with my first. I also knew I wanted my water broken after the epidural, not before. When all was said and done, my second childbirth experience was better but there was still a lot of room for improvement. Next time, I definitely wanted to skip the Pitocin. And maybe even the epidural. And suddenly I began asking the question, “do they really need to break my water?”
When I was finally pregnant with my third, it had been almost eight years since giving birth and I had a great many thoughts on the matter. I decided to make a birth plan for the first time. It had become really clear to me that having an all natural, drug-free birth is the kind of birth I wanted to have. Not to say that’s what everyone wants or should go for, but I had experienced enough of the non-natural, lol! I was determined to have zero interventions or medications. I’d just been doing it wrong, I thought. By making the “right” choices I’d have exactly the birth I wanted with baby number three, right?
And it seemed like I had it figured out because my third birth went exactly as planned. I waited until I was nearly ready to push before arriving at the hospital, had no drugs or interventions, and he was born easily, albeit intensely! I was thrilled. But it caused me to be arrogant and self-righteous about natural childbirth. I only knew of a handful of serious complications that were capable of causing a woman to need a cesarean; the rest, I thought, were the result of interventions.
But then, for articles I was writing about cesareans a few years later, I found out more. I read and researched. I interviewed women who’d had one (or two) c-sections and I began to realize that there were more reasons for the surgery – legitimate reasons – all of which I hadn’t any previous knowledge of. While a woman can lower her chance of having one by making certain choices, she cannot eliminate the possibility entirely.
Well, thank goodness I’d done that research because I ended up needing a cesarean with baby number four. I didn’t do anything differently than I’d done with my third yet I could not deliver his little sister. She was in a position called left occiput transverse and she was unable to descend even though I went into labor spontaneously, dilated fully, and pushed for 90 minutes.
My birth plan with her is what has given me peace about the whole thing. I made all the choices I’d felt strongly about and then went with the flow. Could she have been delivered with forceps or vacuum extraction? Possibly, but I’d decided beforehand that I didn’t want either one. This is why I encourage everyone to make a plan. Feel GOOD about the choices you make and then relax knowing that the rest is out of your hands. ♥ And if, like me, you learn from your previous birth(s) and decide to do things differently next time, then do so! And don’t feel bad for realizing you didn’t know what you didn’t know! ;)