My birth plan was more than just ‘I want a natural birth’. I wanted a natural water birth at a birthing center, not in a hospital, plus other fine print requests. Everyone tells you birth plans ‘never go as planned’ and ‘expect the unexpected’ and I heard this a million times when I shared my plan with friends and family, but I had my heart set on our plan, our etched in soft stone specific and different plan. A plan that couldn’t go wrong because that would mean nothing went right.
When we found out we were pregnant, Nate brought up the idea of birthing centers and described it as places women can deliver babies without being in a hospital. He didn’t know the details either, but we read they exist, and it was now an option. I’ve never heard of such a thing nor had I ever researched pregnancy, birth or anything related to having babies. The only different birth I heard of was a water birth at home because we had friends who recently did this and (embarrassingly) I saw it on Keeping up with the Kardashians. (I know you watch it, too!) That episode when Kourtney was pregnant, and she spectates one because she thought about having a water birth at home. Even after this, I still couldn’t wrap my head around what it entailed, the purpose and I just simply didn’t “get it”.
We view hospitals as a place you go when you’re sick and need medical attention, not bringing a baby into the world as long as you’re healthy. Unless you have granola friends, society makes you assume hospitals are your only option; it’s probably where you were born, where your friends and family give birth and it’s what the movies portray. I’m guilty of it. Our friends who had the water birth recommended we watch the documentary The Business of Being Born because it explains the purpose of wanting this kind of ‘experience’ and educate you on the natural birthing process. We got half way through the movie when we agreed, we’re not giving birth in a hospital! This catapulted our research of alternative birthing methods and a pros and cons list. My main concern for this type of birth was obviously, what would happen if things went wrong? This ended up being the least of my worries in the end.
Half way through my pregnancy we transferred to a birthing center in Tampa, Labor of Love. We were so excited and felt 100% comfortable after meeting the midwives and seeing the birthing suites. We considered doing a home birth, but it didn’t seem sanitary with all the dog hair and inconvenience of taking them somewhere last minute. At the OB, we always felt like another number in the deli line and they all gave us questioning looks when we asked their opinion on anything that didn’t fall under hospital standards. A five week course on childbirth is required by law when you choose to deliver out of a hospital. We couldn’t have been more prepared with the knowledge we consumed about what to expect and what happens when, especially when something goes awry. Those “hippies” know what they’re doing.
Having a birth plan as specific as I did meant that my “open-mind” might mean I could give birth out of the tub instead of the water. Maybe I would end up using the birthing stool, delivering on the bed or even squatting? This is what I was open to, ending up in the hospital wasn’t something I wanted to even consider. It terrified me to think I could end up being transferred if my plans didn’t play out properly.
My birth plan was to have a peaceful water birth. I wanted her to be delivered onto my chest and not come out screaming like most think is normal. I wanted to delay cord cutting so she wouldn’t lose 30% of her blood supply. I didn’t want her vernix to be wiped off and given a bath once she was born. I didn’t want her to receive the eye ointment, Vitamin K and Hep B shots that are standard in hospitals. I wanted my placenta to be delivered on it’s own, not pulled out on the Dr.’s clock. I wanted to encapsulate my placenta because they’re the ultimate happy pills for post partum.
Only a few of those requests happened; she didn’t receive the eye ointment, Vitamin K and Hep B shots and I was able to keep my placenta. Not even close to my birth plan, but still important wants. It wasn’t about ‘my plan’ and delivery checklist, it was about my experience and the most nurturing and peaceful entrance into the world for my daughter. My plans took a 180 and I would plan it all over again the same way. I think it’s important to educate yourself so you’re able to create a plan, but allow yourself to keep an open mind. If you’re pregnant for the first time, you won’t understand the depth of ‘keeping an open mind’ yet. I didn’t until now. I’m grateful for my outcome, but still desire the plan I made. My midwives at Labor of Love were fantastic and I would recommend them in a heartbeat.
My birth story is documented on my personal blog here.