Why I don’t believe in birth plans
I’m a planner. I’m forever thinking several steps ahead, preparing for events that will probably never happen and leaving as little to chance as possible. And yet when it came to giving birth, I refused to plan a single thing.
To me, birth didn’t seem like something that could really BE planned. Unless you’re having a scheduled induction or c-section, you don’t know when it’s all going to kick off or what might go wrong. You might have a lovely, calming water birth while listening to whale sounds, or your baby may slip out of you in the back of a taxi on the way to the hospital.
There’s no way to predict how your body is going to react when it decides that it’s time for your baby to vacate your womb, so with my first daughter’s birth, I took a just-do-whatever-you-need-to-in-order-to-get-you-and-the-baby-through-this-safely approach. It was just as well I didn’t have my heart set on an empowering birth experience, since she did a poo inside me, forcing me to be strapped to heart rate monitors for over eight hours, then got stuck in the birth canal and had to be sucked out of me with a suction cup. The best thing that I could say about the whole experience was that I got the job done with relatively little damage to myself (except for my torn-up lady parts) or my child.
So when it came to my second daughter’s birth, I knew better than to make any plans. I did, however, make some assumptions:
- That I would go into labour when I was full term. (My first daughter was born at 40+2 weeks, while my second came at 36+5. I kindly suggested that she stay put for two more days, but she was having none of it.)
- That my second labour would be shorter because my body knew what it was doing. (It was, technically, just just barely. Hardly the three-pushes-and-she’s-out birth I’d been hoping for.)
- That I would take all the drugs this time. (I did ask for drugs – and a c-section, and for someone to please just pull the goddamn baby out of me – but was told it was too late/not possible. I had to survive the birth on gas and air alone – again. That stuff can almost convince you that giving birth is hilarious when you’re in early labour, but once you get to the pushing stage, it’s like taking paracetamol for a broken arm.)
- That once the birth was over, the hard part would be done. (It took two midwives TWO HOURS to stitch me back up afterwards. The local anesthetic kept wearing off, so I kept having to suck on the gas and air so I could pretend that I wasn’t getting poked repeatedly in the perineum with a sharp needle.)
I was all monitor-ed up this time around too due to my daughter’s prematurity, and I had a very painful cannula stuck into my hand to administer fluids. It was hardly the ideal birth experience, but given that I got a healthy baby out of it, I can hardly complain.
When it comes to giving birth, the journey is far less important than the end result. Feel free to form opinions about what type of pain relief you want or what birthing positions you want to try, but be prepared for all your plans to go straight out the window. It doesn’t really matter how your baby gets out of you as long as you and your kid are both safe at the end of it. Even if your vagina gets torn to pieces in the process. And it probably will. Soz, ladies.