Second-to-last Preggo column... amusing in hindsight...
Dreaming the Birth Plan
As I get closer to my baby's birth, which should be about a month and a half from now, I'm starting to think about my birth plan and dream a little about what that day will be like.
At the hospital where I'll be delivering, they gave me a ten-page questionnaire asking how I want the birth to be, detailing everything from who will be in the delivery room with me to what medications I do or don't want. I had no idea there would be so many choices, but I'm glad to be thinking about all of this now instead of waiting until I'm actually in labor. Although in some ways the idea of planning for birth seems strange- after all, women have been giving birth for millions of years without a long questionnaire to fill out beforehand- I really do believe that planning ahead of time can make that day much calmer and healthier for both my baby and me.
In my dream scenario, I envision a peaceful natural birth. I want to avoid the panic, rushing around and shouting that people usually talk about when they picture labor and delivery. I'd like to welcome my little one into the world in a calm setting without any added stress. I think from the baby's perspective, just the act of being born is stressful enough!
I already know it isn't like the movies where the mother goes into labor and rushes to the hospital to have her baby in the hour or two before the show ends. In real life, there are often many long hours between the start of labor and the point where the mom gets to meet her baby for the first time. Most people view those long hours as full of pain and hard work, but I'm not convinced it has to be that way for me.
I'm planning on using a technique called Hypnobirthing or Hypnobabies, where the pregnant mom does self-hypnosis, deep breathing, visualization exercises and relaxation techniques to keep her body calm instead of relying on medicines. Some of my friends think I'm crazy for trying this, but others who have given birth this way praise the method. So in my imaginary world, I picture a lot of waiting between contractions and practicing my breathing and having everything go perfectly.
Of course, as my friends with children have warned me, these things rarely go according to plan. I've had three friends in the last year undergo emergency C-sections after they or their babies developed problems during birth. This scares me a bit, but I'm trying not to think too much about all the things that could go wrong. That isn't easy, though, because after having already gone through so many complications in this pregnancy, I tend to consider all of the possible outcomes, not just the good ones.
Part of the philosophy behind hypnobirthing is letting go of fears about childbirth and trying to view it as a joyful experience. It sometimes seems like most cultural references to childbirth only show the worst-case scenarios. Movies are more exciting when the mother or baby's lives are in danger, but that doesn't make them realistic. Searching online, I found some videos of mothers using relaxation techniques to have a peaceful birth. One of my favorites shows a laboring mom singing as she has contractions. It just seems a much nicer way to have a baby than breathing heavily, crying or being woozy from medication.
Meanwhile, I've checked off the things on the birth plan questionnaire saying I want a natural birth, want Justin in the room with me and would like to have the baby handed to me right after birth. I'm undecided about stuff like whether or not I want to bring music to play or whether I will want to walk around while in labor.
Asking Justin about what his preferences are for the birth, he offered a succinct "I just want to stay out of the way and not get yelled at." He's got the image in his head of the laboring mother shouting "You did this to me! You caused all this pain!" as the baby is born. I think maybe he's seen too many movies.
Nonetheless, he's supportive in my decision to give birth without medication or other interventions. And I've been practicing my breathing exercises and relaxation techniques as I've started to have Braxton-Hicks contractions in these weeks leading up to the point where I will be considered full-term. There's no need to be afraid or nervous about birth, I keep telling myself. I've mostly got myself convinced.
I suppose no matter whether the birth goes according to plan or not, the most important thing will definitely occur. I'll finally get to meet my little one and become a mommy for the first time. And that is the best dream-come-true of all.