“I’m just going to go with the flow.”
“We’ll see what happens when I get there.”
“You can’t control what happens so….”
“I don’t need a birth plan… what is that anyway?”
Have you heard this said or maybe have even said these things yourself when talking about your upcoming birth? No judgement! I have totally been there before with my first baby.
When talking about about birth, “go with the flow” usually means, “I’ll go with whatever my doctor says.” Currently we have a 32% c-section rate in America. Healthtracker.org indicates current statistics state that “700 women die per year from childbirth complications. Infant mortality rate is 71 percent higher here in the US than the comparable country average.” Now, if you don’t really care about what happens and you don’t mind handing away your power to someone else that’s totally fine but I’m guessing, since you’re reading this that you would like to keep your power and decision making to yourself. Or at the very least you are simply curious about what the difference could be when choosing to “empower” your birth plan choices rather than “going with the flow. Whatever the reason may be, I am glad you are here!
How do you “go with the flow” while still maintaining the decision making power?
Can you have a laid back and relaxed birth without feeling like you have to control every moment? TOTALLY! In fact, this is exactly what I want you to experience. Birth doesn’t always go the way we want but that doesn’t mean we cannot be fully aware and participate in making every decision along the way. You see, that is just something I never thought about before my first childbirth. My mom only shared with me my birth story (and it was a bit scary - doctor didn’t make it in time even though mom was induced!) I always had the impression you “checked in and checked out,” and the doctor decided everything in between.
Remember the old adage, “Knowledge is power”? So equip yourself with knowledge and a birth plan prior to the big day. Preparing for all situations may seem like a lot of work, but it will teach you that you are strong, capable and confident enough to trust yourself to choose what’s best for you and your baby. It will empower you to enjoy your birth no matter how it plays out. You will no longer be a puppet following what someone else wants you to do, you will be strong and empowered to break free from those strings and birth on your own! That’s not at all saying you will argue with your doctor or challenge their every suggestion during birth! What I want for you is to have the knowledge ahead of time so you can pick your provider and it will be one that best matches your birth plan and is willing to communicate effectively throughout your experience!
Choosing your Provider to Match Your Expectations For Birth
Doctors are the experts! They went to medical school to learn the pathology of birth. They are trained to identify when something is going wrong. They are experts in disease. I am so thankful we have knowledgeable physicians who know what to do when emergencies arise. It is rare these days, however, to find a doctor who sees birth as a normal event without allowing the training of searching for problems to take over. If you are looking to trust your body and respect the birth process for how it was designed to function, then be sure to find a provider who will step aside and be ok with you making informed decisions.
“Johns Hopkins patient safety experts have calculated that more than 250,000 deaths per year are due to medical error in the U.S. Their figure, published May 3 in The BMJ, surpasses the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) third leading cause of death — respiratory disease, which kills close to 150,000 people per year.”
Having a trusting relationship with your doctor is of utmost importance! It is foundational and may take those 9 months of pregnancy to establish. However, handing complete decision making over to them because they are the “experts” is a shortsighted approach to a monumental life event. When I hear someone say, “I’m just going to follow my doctors advice,” most of the time that means, “I am going to go with my doctors birth plan, not mine.”
As a birth advocate and doula I have heard the same story repeated time and time again from women of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, beliefs, races and religions. It spares no one… it’s called the “cascade of interventions”.
This is a story that many women who have experienced birth will be able to resonate with. It’s called the “big baby cascade.”
A mom goes into her appointment at 38 weeks. She is told that she is measuring big and her cervix is 2 cm dilated. She is referred for a growth scan to make sure the baby is measuring ok. The baby measures 9 lbs and when the doctor comes in to go over the results of the ultrasound he says, “Baby is measuring really big. I am afraid he isn’t going to fit. Let’s schedule your induction for Monday.” Mom shows up at 7am for her induction. She gets the IV inserted, the monitors are in place, all the paperwork signed and her cervix checked. She is still at 2cm. Pitocin is connected to her IV and she starts feeling the contractions come. It’s not too bad but every hour the nurse comes in and turns it up. Mom is starting to feel the intensity rise and feels out of control. It has been 7 hours and she is tired. She hasn’t eaten anything, “Just in case.” She asks for an epidural. She is at 4cm when the anesthesiologist comes in. Finally, she feels relief. She lays down and is able to sleep. She wakes up 2 hours later to nurses surrounding her, placing an oxygen mask on her face, helping her to move to her side, while on the phone with the doctor. The baby’s heart has had a major decel (a dip in the baby’s heart rate) and they are obviously alarmed. The doctor says if it happens again then she will need a c-section. She is at 6cm now. Just 5 minutes later, nurses run in again, gets mom prepared, she is rolled into the OR crying, feeling out of control and her baby is taken from her via a surgical cut in a matter of moments.
This story is real. This happens every day. This is what happens when you “go with the flow” and allow decisions to be made solely by your care provider. Here’s another story of a mom who went with “the flow.”
At 37 weeks pregnant, mom’s water breaks… She calls her doctor and he says to go straight to the hospital. When she gets there she requests the epidural and they administer it. A few hours later she is ready to push. Laying on her back she pushes her baby out and baby lays right on her chest.
That last one sounds nice right? She didn’t do anything.. She just went with the flow. Friend, she is the lucky one, Now let me ask you…
is it better to go into a situation not knowing your options and hoping someone will choose what’s best for you and not what’s best for them
is it better to be prepared for every situation, knowledgeable on all of your options so no matter what happens, you will be the one empowered to make the decision?
It doesn’t matter to me which route you choose! My goal is that a mom-to-be reading this will realize that she has a superpower that she isn’t using right now. She has a voice that she is able to use to convey her decisions. That if she has a desire to have her birth look a certain way that it is OK and acceptable to ask for that. That she should follow her intuition, learn all she can and consider hiring a team who will support her throughout the pregnancy and birth!
You can get a free download of 15 questions to ask your provider to see if you’re the right match! Go to bit.ly/15providerquestions to print off this helpful tool!
“Go with the flow” and Natural Birth
I hear from a lot of mothers that they want to “try to go all natural.” When I delve deeper into what that really means, I have found that they would like to see how far they can progress without an epidural. Unfortunately, as a culture we have lost the art of passing down knowledge from generation to generation. Most of us have never witnessed a birth before. We hear more horror stories than positive. Going into birth without knowing what ‘normal’ looks like doesn’t set us up for success.
Can you go all natural without writing out a birth plan? Totally! Writing out a birth plan helps you understand the options you have before you choose. It will keep you informed and give you the knowledge you need to be reminded of when it comes time to make informed decisions that will ultimately match the outcome you’re looking for. For example, if you are wanting a natural birth and you choose a doctor who doesn’t routinely attend natural births and has a high intervention rate, then you have made a decision that doesn’t match the outcome you’re looking for. Having a birth plan will lay out the scenarios allowing you to plan your birth experience! You will even cover the contingency plans for when your ideal’ birth plan isn’t playing out.
Planning for a Cesarean
Most of the time, a birth allowed to progress naturally with no intervention works out as hoped for. However, there is the possibility that something could happen totally unexpected. Should you still have a plan? What if you have a c-section?
Did you know even if your birth takes a 180 and looks nothing like you expected a birth plan is still worth the effort. For example, when a baby is premature or if you require an emergency c-section having a plan is a source of comfort as you and your doctor have gone over these possible variables. Yes, you even have choices to make during a c-section!
Mother’s are speaking up. They are wanting more dignity and to be more involved during the birth of their child in the OR. The times are changing and gentle cesareans are becoming more of the norm.
If a c-section becomes necessary these are some things you are able to choose and write into your plan:
A clear drape allowing you to see baby being born
Arms are not strapped down on the table
No talking, quiet, low music playing
Immediate skin to skin allowed
Delayed cord clamping
Breastfeeding in OR
Even if your birth plan “falls apart” you have prepared for all of your options and been empowered to make decisions that can help even the unexpected situations go as smoothly as possible. You will not have the sense of being “pushed along” in the process but instead be full aware of your options and take part in leading it.
Use your BRAIN, a decision making tool
Here is a tool that you can use so no matter what choices you have to make you will be able to stop and think about it in a way that will give you confidence in the decision!
BRAIN is an acronym that stands for:
When presented with an intervention such as, cervical check, episiotomy, c-section, you can stop and ask yourself:
What is the Benefit of doing this?
What are the Risks associated with this procedure?
Are there any Alternatives that I can try first?
What is my Intuition telling me I should do?
What would happen if I did Nothing for 10 minutes? For an hour? Indefinitely?
By asking yourself and your provider these questions you will know what the best choices are to make for you and your baby.
If you take away nothing else I want you to hold on to this:
You matter enough to find a provider who supports you and your desires for a rewarding birth experience.
You matter enough to learn about all of your options during pregnancy, labor and delivery.
You matter enough to work on your mindset and body so that you can know you did everything in your power to manifest the birth you desire.
You matter enough….
If you’re ready to start on your journey to being an informed and empowered mama make sure to sign up for my free online course: The Top 5 Things Every Pregnant Mom Needs to Know. Go to bit.ly/bbb5things to sign up today!