Birthing Plan or Russian Roulette?

When you get to a certain stage of pregnancy, namely- the end, you begin to lose the ability to filter yourself: what you say, how you act, what you’re willing to admit to strangers. I don’t have a great filter when I’m not expecting, but look out, world! I’ll likely say just about anything right now. I’m not prone to sugarcoat my opinions, (of which there are many) when it’s 92 degrees outside and I’m roughly the size of the Titanic. To give you an idea of my apparent size, I was just walking into Panera to sit and blog for a while in relative silence, (my doting husband offered to watch the 76 munchkins at home for a spell so I could get some writing done in peace) and a man in the parking lot saw me and immediately said “Hi! You having twins?” This would upset a lot of pregnant women, but I am aware that I look like I’m 3 weeks past due, and this isn’t my first rodeo, so that didn’t ruffle my feathers. I replied, “Nope, I have twins at home, but this is just one.” Not convinced, he shot back, “You might be having twins this time, too!” I don’t know if he’s the father of multiples, an ObGyn, or just has a death wish, but he seemed confident in his prediction. However, that would be the surprise of the century, as I’ve had about 12 ultrasounds with this baby (par for the course with a high-risk pregnancy.) If they’ve managed to miss a whole person in there each time, well, I guess I’m going to have to get my other bassinet back from my sister-in-law. (Which won’t go over well as she’s due with a new baby 4 days after me.) All of this to say, I am sooo pregnant that perfect strangers feel comfortable suggesting to me that I am carrying more than one fetus.

And that level of giganticness brings me to today’s topic. It’s one that people feel strongly about. I’m not out to lose friends, and I hope that if we disagree, we can walk away from this post still liking each other, (assuming I’m already acquainted with you!) I realize, too, that there are varying degrees of opinions on this matter. I probably fall to the extreme of one side, and many of you will fall somewhere in the middle. A few of you, however, are die-hards, and I want you to feel welcome to chime in and share your thoughts. Also, I don’t think you have to be a parent or be expecting a child to have an opinion on this subject. I had pretty much the same opinion I have now long before I had any kids. So everyone’s thoughts are welcome and legitimate, regardless of parental status.

Birthing plans. People are serious about HOW they want to bring their children into the world. Why is that? I have been part of so many discussions where women are adamant one way or another that their way is the best way. Not that they say that, but the language they use to describe their way indicates that they believe it SHOULD be everyone’s way.

Here’s one thing that gets me: the way some women talk about c-sections. As if they are the thing to be most avoided in life! As if a pregnancy ending in delivery by c-section is a failure! Does it not still result in a new baby?? Why are we so dead-set against c-sections? I can understand not hoping for a c-section, but I’ve heard so many people talk about it like it’s the end of the world! I want to tell these people that it is still a respectable way to birth a baby, especially when deemed medically necessary, and doesn’t make you any less of a woman. I recently read on a friend’s Facebook whose wife was in labor at the hospital that they only had 2 hours for the baby to turn and for her to dilate a certain amount more, or they would be forced to do a c-section. In the comments on that status some woman replied “NOOOOO!! Don’t let them do it!!!!” And I wanted to know where that woman was so I could slap her. Why would you say that to a person IN LABOR facing the reality of a possible caesarian? It clearly was not up to them, the doctor was making a decision based on the health of mother AND baby, not flippantly wanting to perform major surgery.

That’s just one pet peeve, and likely because I have delivered ALL of my children via c-section, and I am confident that it has been a success each time.

How about epidural vs. natural? People feel strongly about that, as well. What is it that makes some women feel like they need to conquer the pain? Is it just a sense of accomplishment? I honestly get the sense that some of these ladies also feel a sense of superiority to the rest of the female gender if they are able to push out a human without the numbing aid of epidural drugs. (Please be advised, I also know some women who have gone the natural route whom I don’t believe are out to best the rest of us. This is not a blanket statement, just a general observance.) I know some people employ the whole “the baby is so much more alert and aware without the side effects of the epidural, I’m doing it for the baby” line of reasoning. But I don’t buy it. I have seen newborns after epidurals and non-epidurals, and guess what? No noticeable difference in alertness. It’s a brand new baby, it’s not going to wave and say hi and count to 10 after birth just because you felt the pain of pushing them out.

Even more controversial, though, is the home birth. Wow, don’t get me started. This is where I might start to make enemies. I simply can’t imagine a more selfish, irresponsible thing to do. I can’t wrap my mind around it. I’ve tried to look at it from every angle, and I just come up with the same conclusion every time. These women are out to prove something, and that goal is more important to them than the health of themselves and more importantly, their baby. They might as well smoke during the whole pregnancy, because clearly their first priority isn’t the safety of their child. It’s one thing if you have no other option. Then you do what you’ve got to do. But if you have the option of having your baby born in your home OR in a hospital, how on earth can it be ok to choose home!? There are so many things that can go wrong at the last minute during labor and childbirth, and a lot of those things can result in the needless death of the mother or baby if they occur during a home birth. Those same things can be dealt with swiftly and efficiently without anyone dying if the right trained personnel, equipment and facilities are available. Seems like a crap-shoot, to me. I guess if you’re feelin’ lucky… I realize that there are some exceptions and that things can go wrong in a hospital, too. BUT, they are far less likely to happen. It just seems so irresponsible to me to choose having a baby at home in light of what could very easily happen when giving birth in a hospital is available to you. I just really feel that women who opt for home births have an unhealthy need to prove something unnecessary. All it proves to me is that they shouldn’t be allowed to make big decisions on their own. It’s just as bad a decision in my opinion as driving drunk, because it’s a choice to endanger more than just yourself.

Wow. There, I said it. I hope you don’t hate me. Under normal circumstances I would chose my words a little more carefully and try not to sound so, well, mean. But I’m uncomfortable and hot, and hormonal, so you’re getting an earful today.

That being said, I have been wrong before, and I am dying to hear what YOU think about this stuff! Even if you think I couldn’t be further from right. Chime in and let me know, because your opinion counts, too. Tell me, Smartypants, is it ok to have a baby at home?????

Categories: children, Family, Multiples, Parenting | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

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24 thoughts on “Birthing Plan or Russian Roulette?

  1. shelly

    I have had three children. With the first one, I was only 18 years old and too naive to even talk to the dr. about any plan. I just thought that he would take care of it! So…I ended up having a natural childbirth in the hospital with a local anesthetic right before the epidural. With my second pregnancy, I was still young (20) and I told the dr. (a different one) that I would like to have an epidural. His response was, “I don’t think you’ll need one,” and I can’t believe that I just accepted it! Lol From his comment, you might think that I was on welfare, but I wasn’t; my husband and I both had insurance on me, as a matter of fact! Then when I was pregnant with my third child (24 and still yet a different dr.), I said, “I WANT an epidrual.” And he said, “OK, no problem.” Hallellujah! The only bad thing was that then (22 years ago) you had to be dilated to a 7 before you got the epidural, and by then you’re almost done anyway! (well, in my case, anyway). I think that just because I could tolerate a natural labor doesn’t mean that I wanted to:) lol

  2. i am with you on the home birth….plus, who wants to sleep in that bed later?! i am ALL for drugs. i slept through two of my thee labors! but having done it both “naturally” and drugged, i always think back to what our birth instructor said before we had titus: you have to do what’s right for you. if that means drugs, nothing, or surgery, then so be it. it’s one of my major pet peeves that people have such strong opinions about others’ plan-have your own kids, don’t decide how everyone else should have theirs.

    • Seriously! How gross is that bed gonna be?! Yuck!
      I’m not opposed to women wanting to go natural, I just don’t understand it. Why hurt when you don’t have to? It’s not a badge of honor, it’s a punishment, the curse of the fall. Am I way off here?

  3. Laura Crandall

    i am right there with you, woman! couldn’t agree more! my belief is that we all have to just do whatever we think is best for mom/baby, and not to nag others for choosing something different. i had the horrible displeasure of watching a c-section video in my childbirth class with javen and that scared the bejeezus out of me. i had no IDEA that they TAKE YOUR UTERUS OUTSIDE OF YOUR BODY to clean it. so unless it’s medically necessary, no babies will be cut out of my belly because surgery scares me to death. i don’t so much understand the elective c-sections, but to each his own i guess. you moms who haven’t delivered vaginally can just brag that all your lady business is still “in tact” more than us moms who pushed our babies out the old-fashioned way.

    as for epidurals, i think if one can do it without drugs, more power to ya sister. but if you can’t, you are just as strong and powerful and womanly as anybody else if you use any form of pain relief available. i thought i’d tough it out with my first, but barely got through the hospital paperwork for all the tears and take-my-breath-away pain so i got that epidural as soon as i was done signing papers. therefore, with ryann, i opted to get the epidural as soon as i could and managed to have a totally pain-free delivery with no tears!!! halle-freakin-lujah! God bless modern medicine! i am thankful to have a CHOICE, unlike women just a few generations back!

    i cannot in all my mind fathom wanting to have a home birth. even a birthing center seems a bit too risky for me, but then i’m uber-cautious so i tend to avoid anything that seems remotely dangerous. home birth makes me think of the 1800’s, when women and/or babies died in childbirth regularly. i’ve had two very normal, textbook, everything-went-perfectly deliveries after eventless pregnancies and i STILL wouldn’t chance it if i ever have a third. i want to know that there is all the medical equipment and know-how right there if the baby or i were to have any sort of problem.

    i know some moms think those fetal heart monitors are a major nuisance because they wanna walk around or move in the bed, but personally i think that keeping track of the baby’s heartbeat is just super important. i’d be a nervous wreck not knowing if my baby was struggling in there or not!

    sounds like so far you haven’t pissed anyone off…or if you have, they’re kind enough to not scold you about it. as long as we all respect each other’s choices in spite of not being able to understand them, we can get along, hehe! i knew a mom back when i had javen who was very different from me in her childbirth/childcare beliefs (mostly regarding nursing and formula) and she used to post the snarkiest stuff on her blog every time i’d blog about MY experiences or struggles and it felt very much directed at me. i nearly blocked her for it many times, but i didn’t and she grew up and seemed to mellow out about her opinions towards other people’s choices so now all is well.

    • shelly

      Oh, I meant to say that I had a local anesthetic right before I had an episiotomy, not before an epidural;) lol

    • I’m guessing they just haven’t read it, yet. I know of a few in my friends list who feel the opposite, so I’m waiting to see if we’re still friends. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Laura Crandall

        it’s a good way to thin down the friend list, hehe!

  4. Also, I think it’s worth noting that while we often have discussions about potential risks and side effects of epidurals, there ARE medical benefits beyond pain relief that probably deserve to be highlighted. Without the extra physical tension that comes with pain, an epidural can reduce tearing and recovery time, not to mention exhaustion, as mom can often sleep while laboring! (I sure did… Between pushes even! Give me a break it was 3AM!). When administered properly, an epidural should make pushing efforts MORE effective because it reduces stress.

    If you’re going to look up all the cons, go ahead and look up the pros, too! Epidurals aren’t just to make you more comfortable!

    • Alissa Claxton

      Actually epidural does not reduce the risk for tearing due to the fact you cannot feel how hard you are pushing. It significantly increases that risk. It’s for this reason many women will opt to back off the button at complete in order to have some sensation and more control on pushing efforts. It can also make pushing less effective due to the inability to feel exactly how to push.

      It’s only real benefit other than pain relief is in the instance of high blog pressure. It can lower due to les stress on mama but their are other ways to manage that as well.

      Not trying to talk anyone out of their epidural just wanted to get the facts right. But if you know me then you know I love a ripe and juicy natural birth with a little doula on the side.

      • Well, Alissa, I was really really frightened about getting an epidural with my first kid, did TONS of reading about it. When I made this comment, I was recollecting the info from my first pregnancy, and I was so positive that my information came from a credible source. But now, when challenged, sure enough, I’m looking everywhere and can’t find the book or website where I got my info! Maybe it’s outdated, or maybe my memory isn’t as reliable as I thought! I’m forced to concede! I definitely don’t want to give out faulty info!

        What I can say with accuracy is that when I did choose to get the epidural with my first, it was not at all what I had expected, especially when it came to pushing. I felt every urge, and felt that I was in complete control of it, just with no pain. It only lasted about 30 minutes for me, and though I’ve never done this naturally, when I read natural birth stories and they talk about that satisfying feeling that comes with those last few pushes… I feel like I had that! Of course, I was also EXTREMELY disciplined with doing my Kegel exercises through the pregnancy. I can’t help but think that played a big role as well. I do realize this is just one case and one example, but two and half years later, I’m still almost dumbfounded by what a positive experience we had.

        I can’t wait to have my next one, although, (and interestingly, something Stephanie didn’t address in this post) I am definitely going to try to avoid being induced and given so much Pitocin. I’m not terrified of it, but just by how the nurses reacted to the doctor’s orders with my first, I’m fairly confident that they were giving me unusually high doses, and that we both may have had side effects as a result.

  5. Jessica Cox

    “How about epidural vs. natural? People feel strongly about that, as well. What is it that makes some women feel like they need to conquer the pain? Is it just a sense of accomplishment? I honestly get the sense that some of these ladies also feel a sense of superiority to the rest of the female gender if they are able to push out a human without the numbing aid of epidural drugs. (Please be advised, I also know some women who have gone the natural route whom I donโ€™t believe are out to best the rest of us. This is not a blanket statement, just a general observance.) I know some people employ the whole โ€œthe baby is so much more alert and aware without the side effects of the epidural, Iโ€™m doing it for the babyโ€ line of reasoning. But I donโ€™t buy it. I have seen newborns after epidurals and non-epidurals, and guess what? No noticeable difference in alertness. Itโ€™s a brand new baby, itโ€™s not going to wave and say hi and count to 10 after birth just because you felt the pain of pushing them out.”

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! You just said what I have felt for a very long time. Seriously, there is no trophy for going natural but some women (not all) act like there is and you just lost the biggest contest of your life for getting en epidural. And to PLAN to have an epidural? OMG I must be the worst mother ever! (Insert eye roll here). I proudly had an epidural and my son was in no way groggy and/or sedated, in fact several medical personnel and lay people commented on his alertness. Whew – I feel better. Thanks!

  6. Lauren

    I had the pleasure of having an uneventful pregnancy, labor and delivery with each of my children. My labors were enjoyable and relaxed. My deliveries was quick and easy and I could actually feel everything. It was wonderful and beautiful and moments I will never forget.

    I am not a natural planner (I packed my bag for the hospital with my first after my water had broken and I’d taken a shower) and had no birth plan thought out with the exception of two things- a quality hospital with the services available for me as well as my newborn even though I would hopefully not need them, and an epidural.

    • Lauren you sound like me with my first! I went in and they asked me if I had a birth plan… I said, “Nope! I just figured you guys know what you’re doing and my body knows what it’s doing and between the two of us we’ll figure it out!” The nurse responded with “Good girl!” and I was treated like royalty through my whole labor!

      Last night, I actually sat down and looked at a birth plan template from Baby Center… The way things were phrased on it, its like they automatically assumed that the doctors and nurses are out actively TRYING to ruin the birth experience. If I were a nurse, and a patient came in with the detailed list Baby Center suggests (most of which I now know are already standard procedure for hospital birth) I would be borderline offended. I felt like, in my labor, a little bit of respect went a long way with my staff! I respected their training and intelligence, and they responded with great respect for me, my husband and mom, our preferences, our questions, and our occasional snide remarks!

      I hear the new trend is to show up for your labor with a box of chocolates for the nurse’s desk. Hey, it might be sucking up, but I bet it doesn’t hurt!

      But, another thing… Stephanie and I are in Cleveland… and theoretically the famous “Cleveland Clinic” forces the hospitals here to be a bit more progressive… I felt like my hospital was not just embracing but actually pushing me to do a lot more “natural” stuff. (like rooming in, lots of skin to skin “kangaroo” care, lactation support and the opportunity to nurse almost immediately, and the fact that I actually had to specifically ask to get my son a pacifier because of their sensitivity to nipple confusion) Maybe those considerations that I assume everyone’s doing aren’t as standard in other locations???

      • Crystal Fulmer

        Mac, I was exactly like you with the whole birth plan thing. I got lots of comments from the nurses in L and D about how I was such an easy patient. (The only thing I asked for the whole time with Ella was a benadryl because the epidural left me a little itchy. :)) The nurse offered the epidural before I even asked for it.
        We discussed with one of the nurses some of the nutty birth plans that had come down the pike.. even women asking to stand up and deliver!! She snarkly commented on how that was a great way to tear up your bottom!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Ryan said that we just assume that they were the ones with the degrees and experience and that we would be silly not to trust them. She stated that they all very much appreciated that point of view. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Oooh! That’s a great tip about the Benedryl! I hear itchiness is a common side effect of the epidural, but a bit of Benedryl seems like a pretty easy fix!

        I had also heard that the epidural doesn’t always numb the stretching and tearing, ehem, down there. Though I had no pain from labor, it was time to push and it made me nervous that I wasn’t numb, at all, and crowning was starting to feel uncomfortable! Before those last three pushes, I just asked the doc if he’d mind applying a bit of local numbing to the area, since he’d probably have to give me some stitches anyway. His look told me he’d never been asked that before, (What can I say! I’m an innovator!) but then he said, “Sure!” whipped out his syringe, relieved my discomfort and fear, and in probably less than a minute, Sam was born! So, you know, you can pass that little labor “hack” along, too! LOL

    • What more do you need?

  7. Reny

    Julia, You are just too cool! While your birthing experience was a bit unique, I am sure that you had all the safety aspects covered. I think that water birth must be a great way to have kids. The idea is intriguing to say the least. Kudos to you!

    But I must say I’m glad that I’m past the age of childbearing. Too many choices these days. I would probably have the kid before I ever made up my mind. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. Crystal Fulmer

    Hey, girls! I chimed in a little on facebook, but thought I’d join the discussion here as well! While c-sections frighten me (just not a big fan of surgery and have read that according to some experts, it can limit the amount of children you have – though Stephanie, I’m sure you may disagree! :)), I would not be opposed to one if it was deemed medically necessary. As I said on facebook, I had epidurals with both kiddos and LOVED it. Both kids were born very alert, though both also had a little problem catching their breath at birth, which I think had more to do with their positioning and my build (when they were at 0 station) than anything medical.
    With my second, I wasn’t sure about my labor because it went fast and my first child was induced (which I hated.. namely because it wasn’t medically necessary and because it caused some “‘panicky” moments) so I didn’t have a good feel for how far along I was in the labor process. Finally I told my husband, “We need to go to the hospital because I don’t want to miss my epidural.” Yes, that was my motivation. Once I got there, the doctor ordered me straight into bed because I was too far along contraction-wise to walk.. not to mention I physically COULDN’T the pain was so unbearable. Suffice it to say, I was only 3 cm. I am proudly declaring myself a baby when it comes to pain! ๐Ÿ™‚ I dilated incredibly fast, and had a perfectly healthy baby girl.
    The nurses commented with both babies how alert they were as someone else mentioned about theirs. Had a little trouble nursing my first child.. more mother error. I have had NO problems with this one! She was agressive and came out ready for a MEAL!
    I also wanted to speak to something else. I had Strep B with both kiddos. I don’t know if women who have babies in birth centers or at home are tested for this, but I hope they are. Although the chance is slim, having that penicillin running through my veins reassured me that I would not have to worry about a baby with meningitis a couple weeks down the road.
    As I said on facebook, kudos to women who go the natural route and I hope that it is just as meaningful of an experience as I had while laughing, joking, and crying tears of joy with family members and nurses as I brought my babies into this world. We each must choose our own path and not judge each other for our choices. We need to support one another. I don’t understand the other side at all, but I lift them up. I hope they would do the same for me. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Alissa Claxton

      They indeed do check every mama for gbs and give necessary antibiotics for a positive result.

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