Your birth isn't a pass or fail assignment.
Raise your hand if you're a shameless reality TV addict?
If you can't tell by the fact that this blog already featured a piece about Kim Kardashian less than a month ago, my hand is raised. Maybe not completely shamelessly, but I digress.
If you're plugged into reality TV land, you may be familiar with Jessa Duggar Seewald, Duggar #5 of 19 Kids and Counting fame, You may also know that last week she and her husband Ben welcomed an adorable baby boy into the world.
Rather than congratulating the young couple, a lot of media outlets are focused on the fact that Jessa, who had a planned home birth, at one point asked to taken to the hospital for an epidural and was eventually transferred to the hospital after the birth of her son due to postpartum hemorrhage.
Some are even calling it a "failed home birth", which is ridiculous on many levels but most obviously because she actually did give birth to her son at home.
Look, I know that the media sensationalizes things. Saying that Jessa was rushed to the hospital gets more clicks and views than recounting that her mother calmly spoke to the 911 operator and her midwife was by her side.
But I do think that this attitude reveals something about how we feel about birth. The fact that "failed home birth" "failed natural birth" "failed VBAC" is even part of our vernacular is a problem.
There's no such thing as failure in birth
Repeat after me: You cannot fail at giving birth. Period, point blank, no bones about it.
As in life, things in birth don't always go according to plan.
Sometimes you realize that even though you were planning a home birth, you actually would like to be transferred to the hospital. Sometimes a medical emergency makes that a necessity.
Sometimes you need to be induced, even if it wasn't a part of your birth plan.
Sometimes you don't have time or have a previously unknown condition that doesn't allow you to get the epidural that you planned for.
Sometimes your trial of labor after a cesarean becomes a repeat cesarean, rather than the VBAC you had hoped for.
I could go on and on, but the point is that none of those things constitute a failure on your behalf. Things happen. Situations and opinions change. That's okay.
Real life is nothing like academia: when things get off course it isn't a failure. It's a change in plans.
When make the best decisions for yourself and your baby based on the situation you're in and the information and feelings that you have, you cannot fail.
Your birth plan isn't a grading rubric.
The truth about birth plans is that they aren't meant to be etched in stone and followed to the T. They're meant to educate you on your options through the process of researching while creating your birth plan, and to communicate your desires to your birth team.
No one will be standing in the corner, docking you points if something changes, whether by choice or necessity.
Now, that's not to say that you aren't justified in having some disappointment if things in your birth don't go as planned. You have every right to mourn the birth that you wanted while celebrating the birth that you had.
But you should not be made to feel like a failure in any sense for changing your mind and the things you can't control.
Keep your vision in mind.
There's a reason why during our maternity classes , we spend a significant amount of time getting to know you and the "why" behind your choices. Once we get to the root of why you want to birth at home, all natural, with an epidural, or via cesarean birth, we can figure out how to preserve the experience that you want to have even if you aren't in the exact situation that you wanted to be in.
It's possible to have a positive birth, even if things don't go according to plan, and that in no way means that you have failed.
So congratulations, Jessa and Ben! Enjoy little Spurgeon Elliot Seewald and your first months of parenthood!
At louisville Area doulas, your doula will support you no matter what kind of birth you plan or what kind of birth you have. Our prenatal classes focus not only on helping you know your options so you can create a birth plan, but on how you can have a positive experience even if things don't go according to plan.
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