While I was pregnant, I had a coworker who was also pregnant, so we chatted from time to time about our experiences. One day, she asked me about my birth plan. My first thought was, “go to the hospital, have a baby, bring said baby home”. She told me about a birth plan “cheat sheet” that she had purchased on Etsy. The sheet was a printout that was customized with all her preferences to be handed out to her care team so everyone knew what the game plan was. The sheet included everything from delivery room lighting to who will bathe the baby.
Preparing for Birth & My Birth Plan
At about 30 weeks pregnant, my husband and I attended a birthing class offered by the hospital where I delivered. We learned about the typical timeline of labor, pain management options, coping strategies, and more than my husband probably ever wanted to know about postpartum lady part care. They provided us with a list of items we may want to bring to the hospital with us – snacks, comfy clothes, phone chargers, etc. We were encouraged to think about creating a laboring playlist, bring some DVDs or an iPad to watch TV on.
After the class, I felt much better informed about the options that lay ahead of me. I started to think about what I wanted my labor and delivery to look like. By this time, the plan was for me to be induced at 39 weeks because of my gestational diabetes. That set the foundation for everything that followed. I was actually kind of happy about being induced because it meant I would have a scheduled date that I could plan around. I could wrap things up at work and make sure I packed everything. I’m a planner so this was a silver lining for me.
The only other thing that I really had in mind as far as a birth plan was that I wanted to avoid getting an epidural, if at all possible. For me, this was driven solely by my desire to be able to walk the floor as a coping technique. I didn’t bother with a playlist. We did pack an iPad, I think.
I didn’t have a strong opinion on most of the other pieces of the labor and delivery process. I thought getting too specific might be asking for too much to go a particular way and I mostly just hoped that the end result would be a happy and healthy baby (and mama).
What Actually Happened
My daughter’s birth taught me one thing about birth plans. No matter how granular or how high level you make them, there are no guarantees that any of it will pan out. So plan for that.
At 37 weeks, I went in for my weekly non-stress test and was told to go home, collect my husband and some clothes and return to the hospital to be induced – TODAY. I was supposed to have 2 more weeks. I hadn’t packed yet and I had work emails to send. This was not part of the plan. I remember asking my OB if I could just finish my workday and then head in. She said no.
After an induction process that felt like a century, we finally moved into the delivery room. The nurse asked what pain management I wanted to use. I told her I wanted to avoid getting an epidural so that I could walk around the floor. She happily got me set up with nitrous oxide and I was so pleased that at least this part of my plan was going to work out. She also went and found some wireless heart monitors, since I needed to be wearing one at all times. Awesome. Things were going great.
Then she hooked me up to the Pitocin IV and for some reason, there wasn’t a battery-powered version of that. So then I was stuck. No more walking for me. At that point, the epidural was a moot point. I ended up getting the epidural because there didn’t seem like much point in enduring the pain if I wasn’t going to be able to walk around anyway.
In the end, I delivered a 5 and a half pound healthy baby girl and none of it was part of my birth plan. I guess I’ll keep her anyway.