Wait a minute, did I read that title wrong? I thought this was a natural childbirth blog!!!
I do have a special place in my heart for natural childbirth. I think that for women who are interested in unmedicated birth, they should pursue it wholeheartedly with thorough mental, physical, and informational preparation. I do think that taking the “try” out of “I’m going to try to have a natural birth” can be a tremendous affirmation for expectant mothers. Most women can achieve a completely natural birth if they want to do so. I don’t believe in freaking out pregnant women with “what if’s,” and that is not the intent of this post.
All that being said, however, there times that for one reason or another, whether necessary or unnecessary, birth plans DO change. A woman who was a hardcore natural childbirth advocate before labor began may suddenly find herself, for some reason, taking drugs for delivery. Maybe she had a 48 hour labor and desparately needs to be able to sleep to recoup. Maybe she had an abruption and needs to be put under. Maybe she is so tense from the pain that she is not dilating, despite her best efforts, and simply needs to be able to relax in order to progress. There are truly times that medication has its medical indicators and advantages, even if I don’t consider it to be an ideal choice for every birth.
Today I want to speak specifically to two groups of women. First, to women who HOPED to deliver naturally, but for one reason or another ended up taking medication. First of all, know this- you have not failed. You are not a sissy. You are not weaker than the woman who screamed her baby out in the next room over. You made a decision that you felt was best at the time, and you should not let anyone guilt you over it.
For women who are planning a natural birth, I want you to continue passionately planning that natural birth! But think through this with me for a few moments:
- There is a remote possibility that for some reason or another, we may decide that I need medication. I will not make this decision lightly. So long as the baby and I are healthy, we will wait a little while to make the decision to make sure that I am quite certain about taking drugs during labor. If the baby or I am not doing well, then it is totally alright to change plans and take whatever I need to help promote a safe and healthy birth.
- In order to prepare for this remote possibility, I will learn about the different types of medication given during labor before I go into labor. This will help me to stay informed about risks and benefits of each type of drug. It will help me to make an educated decision about what would best fit my needs.
- I will be aware that taking medication may change other aspects of my birth plan, such as freedom of movement and eating, or perhaps the ease of breastfeeding after birth. I will prepare for this as much as possible by having support plans in mind- a partner or doula who can help me change positions even while on an epidural, or a lactation consultant who can help me to work with a sleepy baby, for instance. I will make my best effort to maintain as much of my original plan as possible.
- Even if I am disappointed that my original plan didn’t work out, I will remember that I am still making informed decisions for the sake of my baby and a healthy labor. I should not feel badly if I need to change my plans.
Now that we have thought through this, put your plan in a mental box on the shelf. Don’t return to it unless it’s for a quick revision. Continue to plan and prepare for your natural birth. Remind yourself that women have done this for thousands of years, and that in most cases women will do just fine birthing their babies! But remember, if something changes, you can always pull down your little “box” and know that you are well prepared for a medicated birth. This can help to prevent disappointment or guilt if your birth strays from what you had hoped.
Has anyone experienced a birth that went completely awry from what you had hoped? How did you work with the changes as they came? Please share what you have learned.