I’m a planner by nature. I like to put my thoughts on paper, create goals and go after them with some sort of thoughtful strategy. As a kid, I listed my goals on the bathroom mirror so I could see them every morning. As a pro triathlete, I kept meticulous training logs. When I started Skirt Sports, I created binder after binder of lists and strategies. This is why it’s so strange that I can’t quite get my head around creating a birth plan.
I keep thinking about what a birth plan would look like. I always ultimately envision a Sponsored Aid Station in the birthing room. With supplies, nutrition, a coach and a game plan. I would hoarsely call out, “caffeinated gel,” or “energy drink,” or at certain points, I would simply nod my head and my coach (Tim) would hand me half a banana. When things got tough, I would focus on a spot in the distance and work on my form, relaxing my shoulders and steadying my breathing.
What do you think? Am I in trouble or what?!!!
After not-so-much deliberation, Tim and I have decided to take the “Know Your Options” approach. It could also be called the “This is WAY too overwhelming to try too hard” approach. Or the “Everyone I talk to says birth plans are a waste of time” approach.
However you slice it, I actually started out with every intention of having a structured race-day plan. I got 17 books and started reading. Here’s what I found. I started every book with great intentions and petered out before I was halfway done. I read the beginning of Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth and actually made Tim read the birth stories too. But I stopped before the next section. I read the beginning of Hypnobirthing and when they started talking about Breath Training, I lost focus.
I have also interviewed every woman I know about her pregnancy, her birth experience and what comes next. I listened intently to every story and a common theme emerged. There are no commonalities! Having a baby started to remind me of preparing for an Ironman. You spend nine months training. You develop a sure-fire race plan. You gather all your supplies and prep your team. You make sure your uniform is spot-on, your bike is running smoothly and you didn’t forget your running shoes. Then you start the race and guess what? IT NEVER EVER GOES TO PLAN!
So, instead of trying too hard to create a rigid plan, Tim and I discussed our options and decided on the following. We are going to take a birth center tour at the hospital.
That will be step one. And it may be the only step we take. At prenatal yoga class last week, I expressed my concern that I had not done any official birthing prep yet. One of the “pros” in the class said, “Well, at least you’ve limited your options since it’s too late to take a Bradley or Lamaze class at this point!” What an optimist! I like her style! And by the way, what the heck is the Bradley method anyway?!
In the meantime, Tim and I have had some interesting discussions about the whole “drugs vs no-drugs” debate. Remember, we live in Boulder. Land of natural childbirth. My best friend lived in Boston when she had her first baby, and she said that the anesthesiologist popped his head in the room every ten minutes asking if she was ready to get her epidural. She said it was harder to get a popsicle than an epidural! For her second baby, the room was filled to the brim with residents and students who had never seen a woman give birth without drugs. She was a non-epiduralized, screaming spectacle. At one point, the nurse told her to quiet down because the doctor couldn’t concentrate!
In Boulder, it’s a little different. Every med is available, but it is quite expected that you will dictate your intentions and then the medical staff will believe you and do its best to follow your instructions.
That unfortunately does not include reading your mind. A good friend told me that she was so grateful that her “FrienDoula” had the foresight to ask her this question, “When you tell me you want to get an epidural, should I believe you?” These are the things I need to know. I would never think to ask that question ahead of time!
So, ladies, what do you think? I want to hear your thoughts. Please please please share your birth plans and birth stories. This is the most valuable information you can pass on to a first-time mom who has NO IDEA WHAT SHE’S DOING! What are the things you found INVALUABLE during this rite of passage? And thank you, from the bottom of my normally-planned-but-for-birth-flying-by-the-seat-of-my-skirt-self!