I looked at the sample birth plan my midwife had handed to us with a furrowed brow.
It was six pages long and had questions I hadn’t even known I needed to consider on it. Things like what position(s) I’d like to be in during active labour, or whether I planned to wear my own clothing during labour and delivery.
All I could think was, how the hell am I supposed to know that?
My husband and I had taken a weekend-long birthing class. We’d gone on the hospital tour.
We were tired and, frankly, overwhelmed by all of the decisions it seemed we needed to make for what we thought was a pretty simple and natural process that people have been doing since humans arrived on this planet: giving birth.
And the even weirder thing was that everyone seemed to be asking me what was on our birth plan. I didn’t know this was a thing people talked about outside their care provider’s office. I didn’t expect to be having coffee with my friend and have her look at me and say, “So, have you written your birth plan yet? What’s it like?”
I imagined those parents who walk into the hospital or birthing center or even their living room with a list of wants and demands as long as their arm. That may work for some people, but that’s not me.
At the same time, I knew it was important for us to be our own advocates, particularly in a hospital setting where doctors could easily take over and not listen to what we wanted.
I had no idea how to find a happy medium.
At the end of the day, we thought we were prepared — but the truth is, there’s no real way to fully prepare, because each labor and delivery is different.
We worked on our birth plan over the course of a weekend, deciding what was most important to us and only including those things.
We wanted to be sure to let the hospital know that this plan was in the case of a complication-free delivery; if life-saving interventions needed to be implemented, we understood.
At the end of it, we had a plan that was about three-quarters of a page long and included items like:
- Ask me three times if I’m sure about getting an epidural before giving one.
- Please avoid controlled substances for pain relief because I am in recovery from drug addiction.
- Wait to cut the umbilical cord until it stops pulsing.
- I want to do an hour of skin-to-skin immediately after birth.
- We plan to breastfeed — so no formula, please.
Even with what we thought was a low-key plan, you know what they say about the best-laid plans.
I got to the hospital at five centimeters dilated and wanted an epidural, screw asking me three times, just please for the love of god give me some pain relief.