Birth Stories · Postpartum

Not Our Birth Plan

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When you’re pregnant there’s talk about birth plans and dreaming up your ideal birth. These are good! However, our birth did not go anything like we dreamed. Much of what we said we didn’t want to do we had to do in our labor and birth. About the only preferences we were left with were: healthy baby, healthy mama, vaginal birth, and a “medication” free birth. Even so, Husband and I laugh. We weren’t disappointed and are happy it’s our story.

Things That Went “Wrong”:

  • Night Labor: This isn’t something you get to choose, but I had hoped for labor to start after a full night’s rest. My labor started around 8pm with light contractions. By bed time, I was too uncomfortable to sleep because of back pain/back labor. I didn’t sleep until he came. (In hindsight I would have taken Tylenol to try to get some sleep, but I didn’t know that was an option at the time.)
  • IV: due to dehydration and fatigue they offered me an IV late afternoon. I desperately needed hydration and didn’t think twice about accepting it. But it was on our list of “avoid” during labor.
  • Nitrous Oxide: This is not a terrible thing, but I planned to go without it. They offered it at the same time as the IV. Even though I was doing a great job between contractions relaxing, my body was tensing up and needed a break to rest so I could push. This helped and I laid in a sleepy state for about an hour taking this and the IV.
  • Catheter: After the IV, the midwife decided that I should probably be letting some of the liquid out. However, I couldn’t for the life of me do the deed (which was kind of a weird feeling). The midwife said I was probably too far into labor and my body probably shut down that ability. She used a quick catheter to remove liquid from my bladder, though she said after birth that there wasn’t much in my bladder to excrete. I was pretty well dehydrated still.
  • Back pain/labor: I sincerely believe/d that it’s possible for labor to be low pain or no pain, unfortunately I was in excruciating pain for over 15hrs of labor. The position of the baby may have had something to do with this and I did everything my doula and I could think of to help move Baby to a less painful position. Things that ultimately helped: pressure on my back, hot pack, nitrous oxide, and some pelvic squeezing.
  • Moaning: This is a suggested labor technique to help open the cervix. I didn’t think I’d find it in me to moan, it’s embarrassing! I thought I’d have to sing songs at a low range to help accomplish this, but a few hours in and every contraction there after I was moaning low “ohhhh’s” just to help me cope with the pain.
  • Coached Pushing: I planned for Baby to slowly ease his way out with minimal pushing. They say fast pushing is more likely to cause tears. However, the midwife said I was having “push” contractions for five hours before my cervix was all the way open and Baby was ready to come out. By that time Baby was a bit stressed and she decided we need to get him out sooner rather than later (which we could all agree on after 21 hours of laboring). She told me when and how to push, for about an hour and a half until we met the little guy.
  • Using a Mirror: I had heard of this and seen of it in birth videos I watched during pregnancy. I thought it was a little weird to see things down there and didn’t plan to look at said mirror. However, it’s what got me through the last hour of labor. Pushing didn’t come as naturally for me as I thought it would, so seeing how my efforts were working really helped me.
  • Tore and Stitches: I sincerely believe/d that it’s possible to relax and open up enough to not have torn. However, the midwife said my three tears were extremely minor and with Henry’s size (9lbs 11oz at birth) that it was incredible I didn’t tear more. Oh well.
  • Picctocin and Cytotec: Due to fatigue and dehydration my uterus wasn’t contracting (also Baby was too sick to nurse after birth) that the midwife wanted me to take these two interventions to avoid major blood loss. We obliged once we knew the effects of these drugs are different post labor than they are pre-labor.
  • Baby in NICU: Of course, there was nothing we could do to prevent this. He had fluid in his lungs and they found meconium (a baby’s first poop) in the amniotic fluid post placenta delivery. The NICU doctor said if Baby had swallowed some of his meconium he would have gotten even sicker and not recovered so quickly.
  • Vitamin K shot: We planned to give Baby Vitamin K drops. However, since Baby was rushed off to the NICU we didn’t have a chance to give him the drops. With him at the hospital getting tons of pokes we thought it was better safe than sorry for him to get a large dose of the vitamin that helps ensure his blood clots, rather than nothing at all.

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Things That Went “Well”:

Husband asked me to add this section, so that this post wasn’t all doom and gloom. Probably a good idea…

  • Doula: We had a friend agree to work as our Doula and we couldn’t be happier with our decision. I wasn’t sure I wanted a lot of people at my birth, however during birth I didn’t care who was there and the more help I had the better. I needed all the hands I could get massaging me or getting me water to drink.
  • Vaginal Birth: At the end this was looking sketchy. I barely had enough juice left in my battery to push my big dude out, but miraculously it happened. I am pretty sure if I was at a hospital they would have mentioned C-section, if not performed one.
  • Medication Free: Baby and I were able to avoid the use of medication and the side effects that can remain for days afterward.
  • Delivered at the Birth Center: I really appreciated this environment. Since their values lined up with mine it was easy to trust their decisions throughout the labor. Pre-birth, I had considered having my birth at home, however I enjoyed the birth center so much I will probably opt to birth there in the future.
  • Freedom of Movement: I changed positions in labor often.
  • Freedom to Eat and Drink: I enjoyed eggs and pancakes for breakfast. My Doula shared a protein bar with me, and I sipped on yummy coconut water.
  • Use of Water: I really like water, so I enjoyed a shower and several baths throughout the labor to help manage the pain.
  • We’re Alive: Mama and Baby are healthy! In the end this is the definition of a successful birth story.

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Every birth is a beautiful story. It helped Husband and I to know what our options were and to feel in control of our next steps. In that sense, having put work into making a birth plan really helped us. However, we were also able to let go of our plan and to make changes as necessary. No birth really goes according to plan. My hope is that our story will give someone freedom to embrace their birth story no matter how it unfolds (or unfolded).

In what ways did your birth(s) go off your plan? 

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