Learn how to let go of your birth plan when it changes
I think it’s safe to say that when you create your birth plan, you hope that everything will go…well…as planned.
In the months prior to your delivery, you spend your time preparing yourself and your partner for your ideal birth scenario. As it turns out, even though you have an amazing birth plan, your baby and body might not follow along.
Things don’t always turn out the way you outline in your birth plan.
That is why you need to prepare yourself (both mentally and physically) for what happens when your birth plan changes. When changes do happen, you can do your best to handle anything your body and baby throw your way.
And when it came to delivering my twins? I thought I would give birth vaginally. The doctor assured me – that was until I was diagnosed with Intrauterine Growth Restriction.
IGR meant that my uterus wasn’t growing, but my twins were. So their space was getting smaller, impacting their overall growth.
Then my cervix was shortening and I was put on bed rest.
All in all I had a c-section delivery and I had to just “go with it” every step of the way since I wanted healthy babies at the end of this!
What Happens When Your Birth Plan Changes (and How to Handle It)
Labor and delivery can be very unpredictable. Many happy and healthy babies have been born when a birth plan goes awry (or when there isn’t one at all). You can still have a successful birth even when your plan doesn’t exactly pan out.
If and when your birth plan changes, this does not indicate a medical emergency. Although it might feel like it. Thankfully, those are pretty rare.
However, even seemingly simple things, like having your water broken rather than having it break naturally, can be difficult on the mom-to-be and her partner.
You have to trust in the doctor delivering your baby that they know what is best and how to handle every unexpected situation.
Make sure you have your birth plan all squared away with our birth plan checklist.
Depending on how detailed your birth plan is, there are many different things that can change within it. Two of the most common changes are having to switch from a natural delivery plan to a c-section and inducing labor. Let’s go into each of those in a little more detail.
Having to Induce Labor
Especially if this is your first birth, there is a good chance that the baby might not come on their own. This could lead to having to induce labor via having your water broken or a drug induced labor.
According to Parents.com, only about 5% of women deliver their babies on their due dates. While it would be great if your body would just naturally go into labor on your due date, this rarely happens.
More often than not, a woman will go into labor on her own early or will have to have labor induced as a result of the baby being late, too big, or other complications.
A mother might also be induced if her water breaks but contractions do not start. While this is not life threatening, it can put mother and baby at risk for infection. Therefore an induced labor would be the best course of action.
Here are a few other reasons that the doctor will opt for inducing labor:
- Rh incompatibility
- High blood pressure in the mother
- Gestational diabetes
- A lack of amniotic fluid surrounding the baby
- If the uterus is separated from the placenta
- Growth problems with the baby
So as you can see, there are many reasons as to why, even though you didn’t plan for it, you might have to be induced.
From a Natural Labor to C-Section
Let’s get real here for a second…
If you are planning on having a natural birth and the doctor comes in and tells you that you are now going under the knife to have your baby surgically removed, that $h!t is scary!
While there are many women who have scheduled c-sections (such as when giving birth to twins – like me – or high risk pregnancies) others would like to avoid them at all costs.
A common reason for switching from a natural birth to a c-section is if the labor is not progressing and the baby is showing signs of stress.
Even if, technically, a vaginal delivery could still take place, it might be safer to under-go a c-section. While the doctor might not deem this a medical emergency, the mother certainly might certainly feel that way.
Having to undergo an unexpected c-section is very scary, both for the mother and her partner.
It can be very difficult mentally when you have had your mind set from the very beginning that you wanted a vaginal birth.
However, you have to remember, it is what is best for the baby. As long as you are both healthy, that is the most important thing.
How to Handle When Changes in Your Birth Plan
Having a change in your birth plan is nothing to get upset about, many women experience this. The key is to take it in stride and focus on your and your baby’s health. Even the simplest birth plan can change very quickly.
A change in a birth plan is often more mentally distressing than physically.
Don’t be afraid to ask your health care team questions and tell them how you are feeling about everything that is going on. Just because your birth plan does not go as expected does not mean that you are a failure as a mother or that you did anything wrong.
Whether going through a natural, drug-free birth or having a c-section, as long as you and your baby come out healthy on the other end is all that should matter.
In order to better handle the unexpected, try and prepare for it.
If necessary, write additional birth plans. While it’s good to ask questions while in the labor and delivery room, you can prepare for alternative situations beforehand also. Ask your doctor about what happens if you have to be induced or need a c-section.
Whether it’s something small or big, having a change in the birth plan can really take a toll on mommy and her partner. Here are some things that you can do during and after the birth to help both of you cope.
Step one…stay calm (if that is at all possible in the moment).
No matter the situation you are being thrust into in the moments of labor and delivery, try your absolute best to stay calm. Getting stressed out is not going to help you or your baby. It’s good to have a strong support system with you from the beginning.
Whether it be your partner, doula, bestie, or mother, make sure that whoever is supporting you is going to help you stay calm through any birth plan changes.
The more stress you experience, the worse the situation is going to become.
When your stress hormones are released, it also inhibits your feel good hormones, so try and keep those flowing as much as possible. And don’t forget, while your baby is still in the womb, you share the same hormones. Therefore your stress equals your baby’s stress.
Allow yourself to process your experience
It’s perfectly okay and normal to have strong emotions about changes in your birth plan. You might feel angry, pissed off, scared, grief, disappointed, anxious, and a thousand other emotions about a change in your birth plan.
Dealing with these kinds of emotions can be a really big struggle for some women. It’s ok to feel however you feel about how things happened with your birth plan, labor, and delivery.
Don’t place blame
Don’t place blame on yourself, your partner, your baby, doctors, or nurses for your situation. Your body and your baby are capable of amazing things during labor and delivery. Placing blame on someone or something is only going to make the situation worse.
No matter how it happens, the birth of your child is a beautiful thing. You are an amazing human for being able to bring a life into the world, whether through a natural birth or not. Opting for drugs doesn’t make you weak, it makes you human.
Everyone experiences pain differently, while some women welcome the pain of childbirth, others would like to avoid it at all costs.
Reframe your experience
While your labor and delivery experience might have felt traumatizing to you, try reframing it in a different light.
You birthed a human! It tooks 9 months (9 long months…) from start to finish to create another life. When you look at your beautiful little baby, does it really matter how your birth plan played out?
Whether it was getting an epidural, having to be induced, or even a c-section, I bet you would say you would do it all over again if you had to. Take joy and pride in the fact that you created that beautiful little human.
Look positively towards the future
While there might not have been much you could have done to keep your birth plan in its original state, you can look positively towards the future. There are many different situations in which women find their birthing experience traumatic.
If that was your first birth, you might be hesitant to have another child and have to go through the same (or God forbid worse) experience. If you experienced something traumatic, you can look at your subsequent births in a positive light. You will know how to better handle an unexpected situation and even be able to better prepare for it.
While you might not realize it in the moment, but your labor and birthing experience is valuable. Whether good or bad, if it went as planned or not, be proud to tell your birthing story.
There are other women out there who experience similar things as you and others who might be able to learn from it.
Even though your birth plan might not work out, don’t stress and beat yourself up about it. Be thankful for the fact that you were able to give birth to a beautiful child.