While birth often doesn’t quite go as planned, it’s still important to know what kind of birth experience you want and how best to try to achieve it. I spoke with several mommas who experienced their birth plans going out the window, and they shared how they grew and learned from it.
Hare are 7 tips from moms who’ve been through it on keeping your birth as close as possible to your plans:
Know Your Rights and Do Research
“Learn your rights and do the research to back up the birth you desire. Fight for what you want,” says Ashley, who used her own advice to achieve a healing vaginal birth after two c-sections. DeAnna suggests moms use Evidence Based Research to help in your decision making process and use the knowledge to talk with your providers.
Linette harnessed education to help her beat her nerves as she prepared for labor. “I read tons of books, watched tons of YouTube videos, and research liked crazy online. It made me feel better to know what to expect, knowing my rights at the hospital, and mentally preparing for the labor ahead,” she says. She also educated herself in case her plan did go differently– which it did. “It was important for me to know what I could control about the situation (i.e. how long I can wait to have an epidural, do I need to be continuously monitored, do I have to have all the drugs?).”
Get a Doula and Positive Support in Place
Having the right support and staff can play a crucial role in helping you achieve the birth you desire. Consider hiring a doula to provide support and comfort for you and your spouse. Not having a provider who supports your wishes can introduce negativity into your environment as you are having to fight for what you need. Catie experienced this with her midwife. “She overstepped her bounds big time and fought me until her face was blue,” she says. This situation created an unpleasant tension for Catie, even affecting her to the point of feeling suicidal. In contrast, moms who surround themselves with the right providers during their births report a more enjoyable or healing experience.
Laura Ricketts of FiLumena Birth has seen the positive impact a doula can have on her clients. “Women who have doulas report higher satisfaction with their births and more bonding with their babies,” she says. How is that possible? By using their training and skill, doulas can help mothers prevent unnecessary interventions, speed up labor, ease discomfort, and change the position of the baby. Another momma, DeAnna, suggested if you can’t afford a doula yourself, put in on your baby registry. Enlisting a helpful friend or family member who is familiar with the birth process can also be a wise idea.
Have a Plan B in Place
Rachel had a home birth planned, but ended up going to the hospital 18 hours into labor and after 3.5 hours of pushing. “Always have a back up plan. Have a back up OB if you’re planning a home birth, pack a bag, mentally prepare yourself that it may not go how you want it to,” she advises. Having a fleshed out plan B in place can reduce stress if things don’t go according to plan.
Laura urges moms to make a plan, but to not get to attached to it. “Nature is fickle. Sometimes stuff just happens and it wasn’t you who caused it, and you couldn’t have prevented it,” she says. By being flexible, we can still have a good experience and let go of any guilt we may place on ourselves with the “I should have’s.”
Follow Your Gut
Catie gives the wise advice of following your instincts. Are you feeling leery of your OB and worrying they might not support your birth plans? Something feel off about your midwife? It’s not too late to change your provider. “You can’t control the outcome of your birth if it gets out of hand, but the decisions you make leading up to and including your birth can and will be with you potentially forever. Birth is such a momentous experience in our lives, and abiding by our intuition will reinforce the positives of the event,” she says.
If you aren’t happy with something about your care you need to voice your concerns. Jennifer had the home birth she planned, but felt very unsupported throughout her labor by the people she had hired to assist her. “Speak up if you’re not comfortable or not happy with the way things are going. There are so many things I wish I would have spoken up about during my third birth,” she says. Remember– you’re the boss! Your providers are here to help you and the baby.
Keep the Ultimate Goal in Mind
“If you keep a positive attitude while accepting that anything can happen, the ultimate result should be a healthy baby and healthy mama regardless of how it came about,” says Jacquin. After two rather traumatic births due to preeclampsia and hemorrhaging, Jacquin found some peace by reminding herself that the outcome is what really matters.
As you prepare for your own birth, keep these tips in mind to create the best experience possible, no matter what process you go through to get your sweet baby in your arms.