When the Birth Plan Doesn’t Go as Planned

birth plan

Photo Credit : Jill Marzion Photography

While I was pregnant I lived in a blissful state of ignorance. I knew what was to come would be hard but figured everything would be fine. We took the birthing class offered at the hospital where we planned to deliver and I thought I was well enough prepared. I knew what an epidural was and what Pitocin was used for, I’d watched my fair share of 16 and Pregnant.

During my third trimester, I finally sat down and tried to put together my birth plan. I had received a blank worksheet during our birth class and figured that would be a good way to start. It was a lined sheet of paper that was waiting for my wishes.

  1. NO Epidural – I wanted an undedicated “natural” birth.
  2. NO Pitocin and I wanted to avoid induction at all costs.
  3. I wanted to try all sorts of different positions to labor in.
  4. Bathtub! 
  5. As few interventions as possibly.
  6. Delayed cord clamping.
  7.  Immediate skin to skin.

I was aware that things happen that are out of my control and that I would be flexible if I needed to stray from my original plan. I knew these were my wishes and reality may be quite different. I also wrote these ideas after having an incredibly easy and smooth pregnancy. When the time finally came, reality was far from what I wrote down on that sheet of paper weeks earlier.

  1. While I didn’t get an epidural, I did choose to receive an IV pain medication that was supposed to “take the edge off”. There were no edges taken off, all it did was give me the spins like I had been out drinking all night and make my memory fuzzy.
  2. Pitocin, Pitocin, Pitocin. I apparently stopped progressing and the doctor ordered Pitocin for me. IT. WAS. TERRIBLE. Contractions were much stronger and closer together. I was already in so much pain having back labor, this made it almost unbearable.
  3. I was so out of it from the pain medication that I never got the chance to try a lot of the positions we had learned about.
  4. No time for the bath tub. 
  5. (See #2) I was hooked up to an IV, I had 2 different fetal monitors, my water was broke, I gave in and took the pain medicine, etc.
  6. Since there was meconium my amniotic fluid, my son needed to be checked by the NICU team right away so they weren’t able to do delayed cord clamping.
  7. (See #6) I also needed to be stitched up, so once our son was deemed healthy, he was given to my husband who was able to do skin-to-skin with him.

I was left with the feeling of failure when everything I didn’t want to happen did.

It’s been over a year and I have struggled with the disappointment I felt. I have spent the last couple months taking classes and attending seminars on different birth options, reading books about childbirth and the wonderful stories of un-medicated, natural birth, cursing the doctors who brought my son into this world and searching and getting recommendations for new doctors for next time, exploring midwifery, doulas, and birth centers.

It was only recently that I accepted my birth story and everything that happened. An acquaintance announced the date she was scheduled for her C-Section. If she could be happy and looking forward to a scheduled c-section (which had previously been my worst nightmare) to bring her baby safely into this world, maybe I too could be happy with my birth story and how everything unfolded.

At the end of the day, my son was born alive and healthy and I can’t ask for much more than that.

I think about what could have happened had I not gone to the doctor when I did and if they weren’t monitoring his heart rate, if he had taken longer to deliver and had aspirated meconium. In my situation, these “What ifs” are much scarier than having my birth plan thrown out the window.


Photo Credit: Jill Marzion Photography


When the time comes for #2, I will be ready. Like I said before, I lived in a blissful state of ignorance. That won’t be the case any longer.

I am taking control of my care.

I’m putting together a birth team I trust and can openly communicate with. I am educating myself not only for the unmedicated birth I desire, but also about different interventions and other possible routes delivery may go. I think I was so disappointed because I felt like I lost control of the direction things went. By fully understanding what may happen and why, I hope that I will more easily accept and “roll with it” if necessary. The health and safety for me and baby will always be priority #1.

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One Response to When the Birth Plan Doesn’t Go as Planned

  1. Lindsay
    Lindsay June 24, 2017 at 12:55 pm #

    This story is so similar to my first birth story – I had a plan and because my daughter was ten days late, the “plan” adjusted to a two day labor, Picotin, IV, breaking water, pushing for three hours and finally having to go under for a c-section. The experience was sterile and scary at times. It took me a long time to accept the reality of the situation and I made a goal to do everything in my power to have a successful VBAC for my second. Thankfully, my doctor (same for both deliveries) is known for his VBAC success (and encouragement!) and I had a much different experience (and successful VBAC – yesssss!) the second time around.

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