Bayo Ajibola

Coping When Your Birth Plan Doesn’t Go As Planned

Dim lighting, hand curated labor soundtrack, your special pillow and a guest list meant to be enforced by hospital workers. These are just a few of the more common items included in an expectant couple’s birth plan. The time, research and consideration given to a birth plan is even more of an investment for first time parents. You’ve managed to conceive and to clear all the hurdles involved with the trimesters, the thoughts about nursery arrangements, baby names and maternity leave. All that’s left to do now is the important work of bringing Junior into the world.
It’s called labor because it’s work, strenuous work in some cases. You may have hired a doula and talked your medical facility into letting you use a birthing pool. You may have requested silence while you labor.
You probably have a lot of ideas about the wonderful experience bringing a new life into the world will be. But what happens when nature intervenes into your carefully laid plans?
There are many couples whose birth plans go exactly as intended. But there are also many whose ideas about silence or music end up being drowned out by the beeps of medical equipment and the frantic
conversations of doctors and nurses. Good prenatal care is a must and can usually predict when there might be a problem. Many an idealized home birthing plan has had to be altered in the last trimester to
accommodate preeclampsia, an umbilical cord in the wrong position or a baby that is stubbornly breech right up to its due date.
It’s easy to feel that you’ve failed if you haven’t followed your birth plan to a tee. This is even more profound in women who’ve ended up with a forceps birth, episiotomy or c­ section. These aren’t things you planned for. But they were necessary to give your baby its best shot at being born healthy. If these procedures were done correctly you’ll live to fight another day, and usually even to bear more children if you wish. That scar you’ll have for the rest of your life doesn’t represent your failings. It’s a badge of honor that proves you did what was necessary to give life.
Recovery from a traumatic childbirth can be difficult physically. But if you went into the process believing your birth plan was etched in stone it can also be emotionally taxing. You’re not sleeping anyway so you
have a lot of quiet time to beat yourself up over every decision. Maybe if I’d just exercised more in the first trimester. Maybe if I hadn’t gained so much weight. These are all the kinds of second guessing new
mothers do when medical necessity has trumped their carefully crafted birth plan. But if you trust your doctor you know intellectually that this is silly.
You know that what matters most when you bring a new baby home is that child’s existence. Regardless of the birth your baby is here now and that’s the most important thing of all. Listening to friends talk about
their natural drug­free births when you had to be wheeled into the OR for an emergency caesarian can be deflating. But your baby doesn’t know this and doesn’t care. It just looks at you as its mother and
couldn’t care less if that perfect playlist you’d hoped to hear during labor was instead a cacophony of EKG machines and your OB/GYN giving instructions to the delivery team..

Bayo Ajibola

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