Rachael Rachael, a mom of two daughters, is a freelance editor and writer who enjoys gardening and dreams of keeping chickens in her suburban St. Louis backyard. In her spare time, she helps to edit her husband’s science fiction books. Read more of Rachael's work at www.rachaelsjohnston.com or contact her by emailing rachael@mumblingmommy.com.

First Preface: I am not an expert on childbirth or a birth plan. I’m not an OB/GYN or a midwife or a doula or a veteran labor and delivery nurse. I’m simply a woman who has experienced two very different births. And I have something to say to expectant moms, so listen up. Whether this is your first baby or your third baby – you need to do one thing:

Have a Birth Plan

You need to educate yourself.
Second Preface: I know that despite being educated, births don’t always go as planned.  I was educated and chose a natural birth – and then I was blessed to be able to have the birth I planned. I do not think any less of women who use medications or have c-sections. I simply believe in being educated prior to delivery. (end prefaces)
So often, as first time moms naturally do, we trust that we will be taken care of during labor and delivery. For most women, this is the case. Healthy pregnancy, healthy baby, “Hey, let’s do this again in a couple years … ”  However, sadly, it isn’t always the case for all women.
Photo via handsandhome.blogspot.com.

The birth of my son was fairly normal. He was healthy and I was healthy. For that, I was thankful. Yet, things weren’t perfect. I received my epidural too late and felt very little relief. My baby boy was taken to the nursery soon after he was born and I sat alone in my recovery room. I was scared and felt ashamed that I didn’t feel connected to him. On top of being on
an emotional roller coaster, I had lingering numbness in my right thigh for months. Again, I was thankful for my healthy baby, but I knew the birth experience (if I had a birth plan) could have been different.

A year and a few months later, I learned I was pregnant with a baby girl. I started attending prenatal yoga classes because, let’s be honest, once you’ve given birth once – you realize you should have trained a little harder that first time around. My yoga classes were just what I needed after a long day at home with a toddler. I felt relaxed and felt like I was able to connect with the baby growing inside me. My yoga instructor, God bless her, was very “one with the Earth.” I loved her. She had the sweetest voice, which was literally music to my ears after listening to a toddler scream all day. During one class she began talking about natural birth and, to my surprise, I didn’t roll my eyes. I listened.
Obviously, after the birth of my son, I had felt like something was missing. Perhaps a natural birth was that “something.” When I got home that night I was on a mission: LEARN EVERYTHING I CAN ABOUT NATURAL BIRTH. I turned to other moms – young and not-as-young – for advice. Many told me their own stories and I felt a sense of comfort in thinking, “well, if she can do it, then I can do it, too!” Others offered book and movie suggestions (listed below).
In the first few days of my birth plan research I announced to my husband that I wanted to have a home birth. He kindly declined but encouraged me to continue in my research of natural birth. Aside from my husband and the women I turned to for guidance, I kept my intentions to myself. “Surely people will think I’m crazy! What if I can’t do it? I’ll feel like a failure. I’m scared of shots, no one will believe that I’m preparing for a 100% medicine-free birth.”
On the evening of November 29, 2011, I wrote a blog post about how I was sending “contraction vibes” to my uterus. That was a lie, or so I thought …
By 5 a.m. on November 30, I was in labor. My water broke (while talking on the phone to my mother-in-law) and I started to feel uncomfortable. We left for the hospital and by the time I was checked into triage, I was already 8 centimeters dilated. “No drugs,” I told the nurse. She smirked and gave me a “oh, honey, I’ve heard that one before” nod. Fortunately, I had my husband by my side – he was my voice when I couldn’t talk through a contraction (or yell “leave me alone” when the resident asked for the 15th time if I was sure I didn’t want an epidural).
I won’t lie. Labor hurts. It’s not fun or pleasant or relaxing. It is painful and hard and even agonizing, at times. I cried. I screamed. Yes, I was THAT woman in the labor and delivery ward. My daughter was/is directionally challenged (like her mama) and was posterior – which meant I had excruciating back labor. After 50 minutes of pushing, and the help of a birthing bar, I delivered a beautiful baby girl. I felt relief and pride and excitement … but mainly just relief.  It was an unbelievable experience.
My daughter was having some breathing issues and was admitted to the NICU. As soon as I was done … (okay, actually, first I ate a bagel) … but right after that – I told the nurse I needed to go to the NICU to be with my daughter. She “thought” that would be okay. Except, it wasn’t up to her. It was up to me. I told her again, this time a bit more forceful – “Listen, I’m fine. I just pushed a baby out without any medicine. I feel like I could run the Chicago Marathon right now. I need to feel connected to my baby and the only way that will happen is if I’m with her.” I was wheeled up (even though I swore I could run up the stairs) and I was able to breastfeed my baby in the NICU. It was the perfect ending to my (almost) perfect delivery.
In the days and months that followed – I felt amazing both mentally and physically. Being educated was and is the best thing an expectant mom can do for herself and for her unborn child. YES – I realize that natural birth isn’t for everyone and that is perfectly okay! Regardless of whether you plan to deliver in a hospital or at home, in a bed or in a birthing tub – you need to know what to expect. You need to be prepared for delivery and know your options, should things go differently than planned.
People always ask me: “So, Kady, you’ve had two different births now, which type of birth plan do you want for your next baby?” With my glass of wine in my hand (because I’m not pregnant right now), I smile. “All natural,” I tell them.
Must-Reads for Expecting Moms:
The Birth Partner
by Penny Simkin (partners should read this, too!)
My Best Birth
by Ricki Lake
by Jennifer Block
Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds
by Cynthia Gabriel
The Complete Book of Pregnancy and
Childbirth: New Edition

by Sheila Kitzinger
Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth
by Ina May Gaskin
Movie: The Business of Being Born
produced by Abby Epstein and Ricki Lake
What birth plan have you had in the past or are planning on having?
Category: Pregnancy

Tags: breastfeeding