So you’re 37 weeks pregnant and everyone around you has told you that you need to have a birth plan for your big day. So, after googling a hundred examples, you finally have your own personal birth plan: from the second you go into labour (which will obviously be in the comfort of your own home), to your water breaking (which you will be 100% prepared for with mesh underwear), to the glorious moment of your child’s debut.
You’ve typed it out and printed it. Heck, you’ve even laminated it and made enough copies for your doctor and all the hospital staff. You’re definitely not changing your mind. Absolutely no epidural, which is just one of the many points on your birth plan.
As a first time mommy, I did the exact same thing. Okay, I didn’t have it typed out and printed but I knew that there were things I was not going to change my mind about. I knew I wanted a natural birth, and that I was open to the idea of an epidural. I also knew that breast feeding was going to be an absolute breeze.
Uh, no. Mother Nature had her own plans and they did not coincide with mine.
None of it went according to my plan.
You can imagine the shock and horror when at six centimetres of dilation I asked for an epidural and was told, “No, your baby is too high up and the contractions need to push him down, so no epidural”. This horror was even greater when, after 13 hours of labour and two hours of pushing, my doctor said the words I was absolutely dreading – emergency c-section. And lastly, until today, breastfeeding has not been easy.
So while everyone wants to tell you their pregnancy horror stories, my advice to the 37 week pregnant mom-to-be is to have your birth plan, but don’t be too rigid. Make a birth plan and have the idea in your mind of exactly how you want your birth to go, but always leave room and some open mindedness to deviate from your plan. Always leave some room for the unexpected. After all, it is your births story and it should go exactly the way you’ve been hoping it would go since the moment you found out about this little life growing inside of you. However, the first point on your birth plan should be ‘whatever it takes to keep my baby and me healthy’.
It is undoubtedly unsettling not to have things go as planned, especially in such a huge and monumental time in your life. It is for that reason that you should prepare for the unexpected to happen.
Had I known at 37 weeks pregnant that my baby was going to go into distress and that my labour was going to be futile, you can bet your life that I would have opted for a c-section. I would have opted for the safe and healthy delivery of my son. And being prepared for it would have eliminated the shock and disappointment.
But there is no way of knowing what the future holds, so try to prepare for everything. Give yourself a break and cut yourself some slack. It’s one way of making sure you have less disappointment and guilt. At the end of the day, a healthy baby is a happy baby, and the same goes for mama.
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My name is Theresa Rajah and I am a first time mom. I live in the far east rand of Gauteng with my husband and my three month old baby boy. I have a passion for reading and writing, and a love for movies and music. I work as a journalist for a mining and engineering magazine and have a master’s degree in linguistics.