I will throw my hands up now and admit I was very naive about birth; which is shocking considering I am the daughter of a midwife. Of course we had discussed the mechanics of birth at length and things my mum saw working on the neonatal intensive care unit, but we never really discussed much more than this (which I know is a lot more than most). When having our eldest, our midwife insisted I made a thorough birth plan, listing exactly what I wanted, down to the fine details. I was told if I didn’t, I may find that many of the options would no longer be available to me on the day. I thought I had it all figured out; there would be candles, calming music, a birthing pool and maybe some bubbles and rose petals thrown in as a nice added extra! OK, that’s not quite what I had planned; that is something maybe to expect if you’re having a baby at the Portland! But, I’d planned to have a natural birth with minimal pain relief. I had decided that an epidural was not for me, I had nothing against them, I just wanted to have the picture perfect natural birth. It is safe to say, 15 hours into back-to-back contractions with no signs of our eldest budging anytime soon, I was ready to move heaven and earth to get one!
Due to our eldest deciding she was not prepared to vacate my womb at any point, the closest I got to a water birth was a hot bath that last for about ten minutes before I demanded a better form of pain relief. After 23 hours of back-to-back contractions and our eldest still not getting the memo that it was time to make an appearance; we were rushed into theatre for an emergency C-section.
I won’t talk much in this post about the events that followed, but it was far from what we imagined. Needless to say, my picture perfect birth plan had been ripped up into a thousand pieces and set alight for good measure! My midwife had insisted I make this plan, and for what reason? It didn’t even come close to the birth I experienced. I guess I had naively assumed that almost all births went perfectly, otherwise, why else would you make such a sincere plan? I was left feeling disappointed, like I’d missed out on the experience that most mothers get.
We had joined an NCT group before having our eldest; we were very fortunate to be in a group of incredible mums and dads. After the last baby from our group was born, we began our regular meet ups over coffee and cake in the John Lewis Cafe in town. We exchanged stories on sleepless nights, nappy explosions, and being thrown up on… countless times throughout the day. Naturally, we all shared our birth stories; it quickly became apparent that not one of us had the birth we had planned. Two of us had emergency C-sections, another was sent home multiple times, one baby panicked and the other made a very bold entry into this world.
The more mums that I spoke to, the more I realised that most of the mums that I knew, did not have the exact birth that they had hoped for. Admittedly, a few did which was always great to hear, but most of my friends reported something that wasn’t as they had planned; a lack of pain relief, a very long or too short labour, a cesarean section etc.
What really mattered was that they arrived safely. Whether they entered this world naturally, or through the sun roof; with or without pain relief; at home, in the hospital or down a toilet! It really doesn’t matter. No birth experience is lesser or greater than somebody else’s. There is no medal related to how you give birth; the trophy is the child in your arms – that is all the gold you need.
Second time around, I didn’t really make a plan. My plan consisted of; go to the hospital, have a baby, then take this said baby home! A plan is great for becoming aware of the options out there; there are now so many birth options available. My advice is explore all options and don’t necessarily rule anything out; once you have made your plan, take it with a pinch of salt and be prepared to be flexible! If it doesn’t go the way you hoped, try not to be too disappointed. Everyone has a different birth story, each is unique to them and their baby; no other birth is the same as yours.
I’d love to hear about your birth stories and plans, so drop them in the comments below or on my latest Instagram post. Don’t forget to check out the first and second thing I wish I’d known before becoming a parent; I Felt Nothing and the Baby Blues.
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