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Birth Plans As Conversation Fodder

Aug18

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Hey Amy,

I am sure you have covered this a million times before but who doesn’t love a refresher from time to time. I am 19 weeks pregnant and a first-time-mom (FTM) to be. My husband and I are so pumped for the arrival of our little girl and so are all of our friends and family.

First a little back story: After conversations with my husband, midwife and mom, who just happens to be a doula which is very awesome (and way cheaper), we have decided we want to have a natural birth. We will be taking the Bradley Method Birthing classes and plan to work with my mom as well. I have also been preparing myself that, if it is necessary, I will not fight any medical intervention that needs to be done and will not feel like I have failed in my attempt at a natural birth.

We have been to a few parties over the last few weeks and all the conversations seem to go the same; are you excited?…what names do you have picked out?…are you nervous? After each question I will answer and they seem to accept these answers without any issue. Then apparently the questions become much harder and it’s like calculus all over again; are you going natural or having an epidural? So far it appears I have not answered this question correctly and like calculus I need to go back and study some more. This question has turned into a huge discussion on two separate occasions. One it was with my dear sweet friend who has never had children but has heard stories and “no matter what you say I am going to continue to talk over you and tell you how ridiculous your idea is and it will never happen until you have an epiphany at 11 pm at a party and realize that I was right all along”…those type of run on sentences we all love. The second was with a man, who I would assume has also never had children but his wife has and apparently it was so rough on him that he also would not budge on this decision I have made. In both cases I was talked to as though I have no idea that childbirth will hurt (no way, it does?!) and that if they just push that point home then I will definitely see the error of my ways.

From this, I have two questions:

1. how do I get out of these conversations without it turning into a debate by anyone who is in earshot. I have tried to say as little as possible and just say that’s what I have decided and get out of it and it doesn’t seem to work.

2. how do I handle them if I do have to have an epidural and then have hear about how they told me that it would happen and use it as fuel on the next unsuspecting mom to be who dares try a natural approach?

Thanks!
A hormonal woman with much less patience

Honestly? I’d just stop answering the question altogether, and keep my plans to myself. It’s nobody’s business.

I did this a few times, as I was dealing with the complete opposite set of opinions and pressure (we should swap friends!) — my second and third children were born via scheduled c-sections. I got so much crap during my second pregnancy about it (“YOUR DOCTOR IS A QUACK. HERE’S SOME TERRIFYING C-SECTION STATISTICS I’VE TAKEN COMPLETELY OUT OF CONTEXT.”), so I finally just started hedging and dodging the question. Saying wishy-washy things like, “we’re waiting until closer to my due date to see how things go/see how big he is/his position/etc.” Or, “I’d love to try for a VBAC. I do have a date scheduled but we’re leaving it open before that.” (This occasionally backfired, since “VBAC” can also trigger a load of fiery, impassioned opinions about how risky/dangerous THAT is. Oy, my lands.)

But I basically tried to make our decision sound somewhat open-ended or unmade. Then if people got carried away trying to convert me to whatever “side” they were on, I blamed my pregnant bladder and excused myself from the conversation. After a quick bathroom trip, I’d either 1) find someone else at the party/picnic/whatever to talk to, or 2) come back with another topic in mind and launch into a new, topic-changing conversation.

That’s probably the way I’d deal with a dude who thought his wife’s experience was relevant to my own, and that it was okay to even be discussing any plans relating to my vagina in casual conversation. “Wow, I’m sorry your wife had such a rough time. Excuse me, I have to pee.”

As for your “dear sweet friend,” I’d probably be more direct and shut that crap down. (Unless she was drunk or something and not fully aware of how obnoxious she was coming across.) “Dude. Why do you even care about this so much? Knock it off.”

Your birth plans are between you and your care providers. No one else has a Right To Know and it absolutely does not have to be Casual Dinner Party Conversation just because someone ran out of questions to ask the pregnant lady. Clearly, you’ve encountered people who feel — for whatever reason that is their damage, not yours — highly threatened by the idea of natural childbirth. (Much like I met people who watched that one documentary and thus felt like they needed to save me from the evil, uterus-slashing medical establishment.) It’s not your job to educate them, or change their minds. You just keep doing you.

And just because your choice made them uncomfy at a party once does NOT give them the power you’re giving them by asking me question 2. If you decide to get an epidural, again, it’s a choice between YOU and your care providers. If you need medical intervention, you did not fail and you did not give anybody a smug sense of satisfaction. If your “dear sweet friend” really is the sort of person who would say “I TOLD YOU SO” to a newly postpartum woman whose birth didn’t go exactly as planned, then frankly, she doesn’t sound very dear. Or sweet. Or a friend.

You aren’t obligated to answer any question just because you’ve been asked, so practice hedging and being vague while smiling patiently. You aren’t telling anyone the name yet. Your birth plan is still a work in progress. Your birth experience was wonderful and your baby is happy and healthy. Sorry, but you have to pee.

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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43 Responses to “Birth Plans As Conversation Fodder”

  1. Mary Aug 18 at 3:58 pm Reply Reply

    I’m 33 weeks pregnant and this plus allll the other unending and completely unsolicited advice annoys the shit outof me. I just smile and nod now. Because there’s no point in doing anything else. I can’t argue because I’m always wrong according to everyone. So I don’t bother. I also never ever bring up anything about pregnancy or birth or babies.

  2. Joanna Aug 18 at 4:27 pm Reply Reply

    I’m 37 weeks pregnant and echo Mary. People are awful. And you can’t ever “win” or get the answer “right.” I had a scheduled c-section for my breech baby, now want a VBAC and all of my vaginal-birth-experience-only relatives tell me how great c-sections are and how dumb i am for not doing that again. Uh, OK, cause you would know. Shut your pie hole. (bitter much? sorry, hormonal.)

    • Sarah Aug 19 at 2:51 pm Reply Reply

      Whee! So much fun! I’m at 35 weeks with my first and was hoping for natural but the baby is breech. We just scheduled the c-section and I’m already dreading the conversations I’ll be having (especially with my 3-drug-free-delivery-including-breech mom) between now and (hopefully) the birth of my second child at some point in the undetermined furture (VBAC? Repeat C? Such fun! So uncontroversial!). 

  3. Christina Aug 18 at 4:28 pm Reply Reply

    I am so grouchy at those people on your behalf. I agree with Amy it is nobodies business. In my opinion whenever anyone is asking about personal private stuff, you get to set the boundaries wherever you want.  You can simply answer that you are not comfortable sharing those plans with them.  Or spare their feelings by saying that you would like a little break from talking about that topic for the moment.  Or excitedly share your plans if you want to. If someone tries to turn it into a debate – point blank tell them that you are not interested in debating the topic with them.  And either politely change the topic or angrily glare till they squirm.  Whichever makes you feel happier in your day.  We women (myself included) can expend too much energy struggling to extend politeness towards people who are behaving rudely and inappropriately towards us.  Listen to those hormones that are making you less patient.  Hormones are what grow our babies, make us mommies, and help us to look after ourselves too!  

    • Elizabeth Williams Aug 19 at 12:50 am Reply Reply

      “We women (myself included) can expend too much energy struggling to extend politeness towards people who are behaving rudely and inappropriately towards us.”

      Yes. This.

  4. Katie Aug 18 at 5:18 pm Reply Reply

    YES. What is with these type of questions? I understand that often people are just excited for you and there is only so many things you can ask about a fetus, but some get pretty weird.  I halfway through my second pregnancy and must have been asked half a dozen times so far which local hospital I’ll be going to – including a few queries from people who DON’T LIVE IN MY CITY/PROVINCE so how could this be interesting information? It gets weird because I have said, “hopefully we’ll stay home…[daughter] was born at home” (cue horrified stares) so I should probably just say we haven’t decided. But why ask??

  5. Nicole Aug 18 at 5:25 pm Reply Reply

    Smile and nod. Ignore. Seriously, people will have opinions about everything from here on out. Answer or don’t as it pleases you, but your life will be much easier if you train yourself now to not care. It’s fine that they have an opinion, but you were not asking to hear it. Good luck!

  6. Kelly Arnold Aug 18 at 5:25 pm Reply Reply

    I agree that leaving things open ended tends to close the topic…when I was expecting my first, I’d just respond that my birth plan was to have a baby and for us both to come out of it healthy, and that however that happened was fine by me.

    And, I know this is a bit off topic, but can we not refer to only one group of mothers as “Full-Time-Mothers”?

    Words matter. I am a full-time parent, and I also have a full-time job outside of the home.  I am a full-time mother, as will you be, whether your child(ren) is/are standing next to you, or in the care of your husband, your mother, a babysitter, or a teacher when they’re old enough to be in school.  

    My being their mother, every single minute of our lives, does not depend on their being with me at all times…it’s a fact.  My full-time, out-of-the-home career, does not make me a “part-time parent”, so let’s all agree to use our words more carefully, please.

    • Carolina Aug 18 at 6:34 pm Reply Reply

      Here here on the “full-time parent” bit. I bristled at that. Is stay at home mom not descriptive enough?

      • Kat Aug 18 at 8:22 pm Reply Reply

        One more for this – just “soon to be mom” is plenty descriptive. Pretty sure employment status was irrelevant to the question anyway. Perhaps (and I say this with kindness), the letter writer provides more information than she needs to out of habit, so maybe the door is open for people to ask/discuss what seem like fairly intrusive/private topics. I personally have never had a single person ask me about my specific birth plan, nor was I interested in providing any information about my experience other than “it happened, it was rough but we left with a beautiful baby”.

        • Isabel Kallman
          Isabel Kallman Aug 19 at 9:47 am Reply Reply

          sorry about that,  It was an editorial mistake (albeit super dumb) on my part.  It was fixed the minute we noticed it.
           

    • Erin Aug 18 at 9:21 pm Reply Reply

      She said FIRST-time-mother (FTM)–not FULL-time-mother. In pregnancy communities, “FTM” is generally understood to mean “first-time-mom,” I think.

      • Kelly Arnold Aug 19 at 9:34 am Reply Reply

        It was edited…yesterday it said “full-time”.  Thank you for the edits, whoever corrected it.

        • Isabel Kallman
          Isabel Kallman Aug 19 at 9:45 am Reply Reply

          sorry about that,  It was an editorial mistake (albeit super dumb) on my part.  It was fixed the minute we noticed it.
           

    • Grammy Aug 19 at 2:10 pm Reply Reply

      Oh, yes! From the moment my son was born I have been a mother every single minute of every single day, even though I worked 40 hours a week at a job outside my home. I’ve been a full-time mother for almost 50 years now, but I retired from my other job quite awhile ago.

  7. Kacie Aug 18 at 5:49 pm Reply Reply

    Mama! You are setting yourself up for a WONDERFUL birth, and you are doing great! It sounds like you are taking great steps toward an unmedicated birth and are open to medically needed interventions if it is required. This is such a great mindset.

    To the people bursting in to your space…ugh. They have NO room to talk.

    Perhaps something like, raising your hand like a stop signal and  “I recognize that birth can be an unpredictable experience, and I’m preparing for a variety of outcomes. Pass the bean dip.” (last sentence as in, next topic, let’s move on).

    Because yes. Birth can be unpredictable. Some moms who swear up and down they will have their epidural at 3cm may be surprised to have a fast labor where there is no time for an epidural.

    So it’s good for ALL moms to be prepared for a variety of ways to labor (or not labor).

    Anyway. You got this.

    • Cobwebs Aug 19 at 9:04 am Reply Reply

      It says FULL-time mother in the RSS version of this page, but FIRST-time mother when you actually come to the page. It was apparently edited after it was originally posted, so Kelly and the other commenters aren’t actually hallucinating; they probably came here from the RSS feed.

  8. Miranda Aug 18 at 6:07 pm Reply Reply

    All good advice. I was in the “natural birth sounds like a good idea, let’s give it a shake” camp, though was not very committed to it and open to seeing what happened. What happened is, due to a number of circumstances, I decided I wanted an epidural. No biggie. Many of my friends were flat out curious and asked a lot of questions and I answered them all honestly and openly. I didn’t get a lot of ‘tude, which I definitely would have greeted with the smile & nod tactic, always a good one. And, speaking of, I just wanted to chime in and say that you should start practicing smile & nod now. These sorts of encounters DO NOT go away once the baby is out, and indeed extend to a whole range of things you never would have thought possible (nursing, bottles, solid foods, organic, juice, sleep training, co-sleeping, discipline, pink/dresses for your daughter, please & thank you, reading, etc., ETC.). Everyone has an opinion. Most of them are annoying.

  9. SarahRS Aug 18 at 6:21 pm Reply Reply

    First off, birthing naturally is completely doable and it sounds like you already have an amazing support system in place to facilitate that happening. :D

    Secondly, if the diversion tactic doesn’t work, just tell the nosey nosersons thank you for your concerns, but I’ve got this!

    Congrats, Mama!

  10. Tricia Aug 18 at 6:23 pm Reply Reply

    Ugh! UUUUUGGGGHHH! People like that annoy me to no end! When I was pregnant with my first I said I was planning a natural birth too, as was my also pregnant-and-super-scared-of-hospitals coworker. My boss flat out told us that we’d “never make it through our labor” without an epidural! I was pissed beyond words. I was confident in my plan, but I was worried for my scared coworker whose poor eyes opened into saucer-like shapes and went quiet. In the end though, we both had the births we wanted and if I could I’d tell that lady to shove her opinions where the sun doesn’t shine. 

  11. Robin Aug 18 at 6:28 pm Reply Reply

    Come on, have fun with it!  I find that if you disagree with someone completely fundamentally, that it’s a blast, no matter what they say, to agree and escalate.  You’re never going to bring someone who has the gall to tell you your own birthplan is wrong around to your way of thinking, so why bother?  They think you should get an epidural?  You agree and you’re going to make sure to bring some of your own personal morphine.  They don’t think you should get an epidural?  You agree and you’ve been fighting to get them outlawed.  No one should ever have one!  Enjoy!!

    • Karen Aug 18 at 9:46 pm Reply Reply

      Yeah! It took me three kids to get a sense of humor about things. I had an epidural with my first, a super fast accidental natural birth with my second. 

      Then got pregnant with #3. I spent the first few months having some fun with people’s inquiries about whether it was planned or not. Then the next most interesting question was whether I would have another epidural or another natural. I ended up telling people I was having an elective C at 37 weeks because I was tired of being pregnant those last few weeks. 

      It was fun!

  12. z Aug 18 at 6:31 pm Reply Reply

    Agree– time to get good at firmly shutting down conversations, because they go on and on for all of parenting.  Don’t be afraid to get pretty blunt if that’s what it takes: “Thank you for caring about me.  Let’s change the subject.”  Or find easy ways to deflect, like asking them which diaper can they recommend.  

    I took Bradley and liked it overall, although there is definitely some more extreme stuff in the textbook that really put me off.  The tone of the class depends a lot on your teacher.  The judgement from the natural birth crew can be intense, as can the lack of evidence-based research.  Still, Bradley is a very thorough class, which is nice.  I was like the OP, planning to try for an unmedicated birth but not going to be upset if it didn’t work out.  Beforehand, I would just tell people “we’re going to go for it, we’ll give it a try– but let’s not discuss it, I don’t want to give you TMI!”  And if pushed, I would comment on how almost all of our grandparents and many of our parents were born that way, and when a baby is born in the car on the way to the hospital it is an unmedicated birth as well, yet people seem to find it hilarious.  As it happens it did work out well, even though I was a pretty half-assed Bradley student!  So good luck!

  13. Tiffany Aug 18 at 6:32 pm Reply Reply

    It always made me nuts how people seemed to feel like my body was acceptable conversation fodder just because I was pregnant. These are very personal, intimate questions. And you’re welcome to answer them if you like, but you are under no obligation at all to do so. Consider cultivating the, “Huh, that’s kind of a personal question…” in addition to the evading/dodging tactics (and the direct shutdown of the people who are close to you but overbearing in their opinions). 

    And yeah, look at this as practice time, because the unsolicited opinions from everyone and their grandmother is just getting started, so you’ll be glad you have taken the time to develop these conversation ending skills. :)

  14. Melanie Aug 18 at 6:42 pm Reply Reply

    I just gave birth to #2 about a month ago and was able to have a natural birth after having an epidural with the first (omg being stuck in bed on your side increases the pain tenfold!). My standard answer to that question was “we’ll see what happens” but I was happy to talk about it to my close friends and here them tell me I was crazy (none tried to talk me out of it though).
    The fun thing is to tell people about it if you do make it through without drugs… My hubby likes to brag about it and now people think I’m a badass!
    Good luck and just ignore people. This is just the beginning in how people think they can get their two cents in.

  15. Melanie Aug 18 at 6:43 pm Reply Reply

    Oh and for unsolicited belly touches I liked to make comments about how they were touching my uterus!

  16. Heather Aug 18 at 8:24 pm Reply Reply

    I thought FTM meant “first time mom”, which I am. I’m also a full time mom, and I work outside the home 40 hours a week. I do not stop being a mom just because I go to work.

    • Isabel Kallman
      Isabel Kallman Aug 18 at 8:52 pm Reply Reply

      you’re right. I inserted that and made a mistake. Thanks for the catch, Heather. Making the change now. :)

  17. Jules Aug 18 at 8:47 pm Reply Reply

    My trick for dealing with controversial topics during pregnancy (and also with my own anxiety about medical intervention) was to shrug and say that while I was open to/wanting to do suchandsuch, it is impossible to know what that birth will be like, so I was remaining open to other possibilities. It’s also been my experience that an icy raised eyebrow is the only answer to truly importunate people who will ask you the most inappropriate questions about the most delicate topics.

  18. Amelia Aug 18 at 9:57 pm Reply Reply

    If all else fails, maybe try blank-face. Pick a spot on their face and stare at it until they stop talking. Then when they burst into tears, you can change the subject to something more interesting, like Dr. Edward Tronick’s still-face experiment!

  19. Martha Aug 19 at 11:11 am Reply Reply

    I had the same experience during my first pregnancy. I planned to have an unmedicated birth (and I did and it was amazing!). What wasn’t awesome was everyone telling me I couldn’t do it. So here’s my advice: Stop listening. Tell anyone who brings it up that you’ve made up your mind and you won’t be discussing reasons for your decision. If they don’t get that subtle hint to stop talking about it, remove yourself from the conversation. (P.S. this approach works for pretty much any parenting choice). 

  20. Caroline Aug 19 at 11:32 am Reply Reply

    I got the opposite; I had an emergency C-section with my first child. It was on the NHS, not renowned for their sympathetic ”let’s just give the girl a C-section because she’s bleating” attitude. It was a ghastly set of circumstances, and with no other possible way of getting the baby out. When I said, during my 2nd and 3rd pregnancies that they’d be C-sections, there was ”oh yes of course, you South Africans on private medical aid always just have one, too posh to push hahahaha!!!” which made hormonal me leap in to explain my circumstances to *PEOPLE WHO DO NOT MATTER*. Why? Why do we need to explain ourselves? Why did I need to say that my babies are all in the 11lb range and natural birth would have resulted in my death and theirs? Why?
    I agree with Amy, just keep it very open-ended, don’t bring up the subject, don’t be drawn on anything other than ”gosh it’s all so new, we’re just going to play it by ear” and then ask them if they have sex regularly and if not, why not and what positions they like and what contraception they use (be certain to criticise whatever it is and be full of horror stories, obv). The message will soon sink in… :)

  21. Grammy Aug 19 at 2:34 pm Reply Reply

    All the others have given perfect advice. Nobody’s business but yours. But if someone wants to be perfectly obnoxious and keep pressing you for an answer after you’ve done the polite dodge, maybe you could say, “I’m not sure why you want to know such personal information, but if you need to know more about it, I can recommend a couple of books.”

    One other thing: When I was first pregnant in 1965, breastfeeding was not that common. Even DOCTORS said it would ensure my baby’s health to feed him formula that had been developed to provide a baby with all the nutrients necessary, blah blah blah. My own sister (my best friend still!) said, “Oh, Honey, if you can’t afford formula, I’ll buy it for you.” But I felt that if babies had been breastfed for thousands of years before I got here, there must be something to it.

    When I delivered, there was only one other woman in the maternity ward who wanted to breastfeed. The nurses made a big deal each morning when they announced loudly, “Coffee for Mrs. X, good morning!” at each room as they came down the hall and “No coffee for Mrs. Y, you get skim milk! That’s your choice!” They all considered it a hippie thing, so decided it was fine to ridicule our decision. I know it’s not nice, but I’ve felt smug ever since whenever it was that everyone (but me) changed their minds.

  22. MR Aug 19 at 2:47 pm Reply Reply

    When someone asks a rude, too personal question, the appropriate response is either, “Excuse me????” or “Why do you ask?” In this case, “Why do you ask?” is probably the best fit. They are asking because they want to be judgmental, but they will never admit that. If they respond, “Oh, just curious.” simply change the topic. It is the perfect non-response.

    • Ellie Aug 20 at 1:10 pm Reply Reply

      I’m also a fan of “why is it important that you know?” if you are looking for a sassier edge that really highlights the asker’s intentions.

  23. Maureen Aug 19 at 5:43 pm Reply Reply

    If one of my sisters or close friend asked, I’d have no problem conversing with them about it. HOWEVER, my first prenatal yoga class the instructor asked us to introduce ourselves. I was there for the first time at 14 weeks and in front of everyone she directly asked me if I was planning a natural child birth. Not even, ‘oh have you begun thinking about the type of birth you would like?’
    At 14 weeks I very honestly responded that I had not begun to consider birth plans yet thankyouverymuch.

  24. DontBlameTheKids Aug 20 at 11:17 am Reply Reply

    You can’t win. I told people I was winging it–which was true, because I honestly had no idea what would happen. I didn’t like the idea of a needle in my spine, but neither did I like the idea of pain. So…I figured, we would just see how it goes. People did not like that idea at all! They said I was an idiot, that I needed to PREPARE and PLAN.
    Oh please. I ended up with HELLP both times and all the preparing and planning wouldn’t have done a bit of good. Just tell them you don’t want to talk about it and move on.

  25. Shelly Aug 20 at 1:17 pm Reply Reply

    Only good response is, I plan on having a baby, and I will do what is necessary for a healthy safe delivery for my baby and myself now can we talk about your vagina and or prostrate for a while. I’m bored with talking about mine.

  26. Melinda Aug 20 at 1:28 pm Reply Reply

    I find this particularly helpful in all of life’s situations: “I’m surprised you feel comfortable asking me that.”

  27. Alexis Aug 20 at 1:57 pm Reply Reply

    I also decided to do an unmedicated birth (Bradley method!), and at a birth center outside the hospital. I can’t beleive non-parents/non-mothers are being so belligerent! Most people who asked me also had opinions they wanted to share, but they were also women who had gone through labor. In general, I just give the “that is interesting, thanks” with bored face and then walk away if I don’t want to talk about it any more. The earlier comments about “why do you ask?” also sound excellent.

    • MR Aug 20 at 8:16 pm Reply Reply

      But even if they have gone through labor and had children, this is still none of their business, and you didn’t ask for their opinion. So, they need to not force their experience on you. Every labor is different, because labor is such a combination of mom, baby, location and providers. Small changes in any of those mean you are dealing with a completely unique labor. Labor is not even the same for the same woman, with the same providers, because the baby is different, and the woman is different, because her life experiences have changed. But, we all know that the biggest issue, is that people want to force their opinion on you, not to be helpful, but to be judgemental. I hope we can get to a place where we can offer support, even for differing opinions, to other parents/people, rather than all being so judgemental. I really don’t want our daughters to have to deal with this crud.

  28. Annie Aug 20 at 2:46 pm Reply Reply

    Yeah, people are kind of assholes with OPINIONS sometimes. I’d have a polite and assertive statement ready “I’m tired of talking about giving birth. Tell me about your trip to Vermont.” Maybe have some jokes ready too, and just keep it in that arena. “Our hospital has a brand new teleportation unit. We’re going to give that a shot….I’m going to carry the baby for the first 28 weeks, and then my husband will take over for the second half of the pregnancy. I’d check in with him. I’m not sure what his latest birth plans are.”

  29. Bee Aug 24 at 6:38 pm Reply Reply

    Just in case the letter writer is still checking comments, I wanted to pop in to say a couple things that I hope are reassuring amongst all the nay-sayers. I had 2 vaginal births. First was Lamaze and I ended up getting an epidural literally right before I started pushing. I felt awful about it and wished I’d had them check my progress when I all-of-a-sudden couldn’t take it any more (yep, I was wishing I’d invited a doctor to stick his arm up me ONE MORE TIME) and then the second was Bradley method with my mom as support person. Totally 100% natural, not really easier or harder, and in fact it was the second experience that allowed me to forgive myself for the first. I then taught childbirth classes for about a year and my students had such a wide variety of experiences – planned an unplanned – I think you have an awesome perspective of knowing what you want, having the right support in place, and being aware that things may change depending on what’s needed in the moment. Just from where you are starting I would venture a guess that you’ll have a birth experience that you are happy with, no matter what happens, because you are prepared! 

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