I had a birth plan. It was beautiful. I was going to have dimmed lights, music playing and skin on skin contact as soon as possible. My “plan” was to be very mobile during labour and eventually, I would deliver on all fours because I figured gravity might help the process. I was scared, but towards the end of my pregnancy, something took over and I felt an almost primal readiness to deliver my baby.
That being said, I had included a very large note in my birth plan that pain relief should be ready if and when I wanted it. I won’t go into detail here, but the birth plan never left my hospital bag and things went very differently, as is so often the case.
What I want to stress, is that my baby was born healthy and well and I became a mother that day, regardless of how she arrived.
There is so much pressure on women to have a positive birth experience. I recently wrote about the fact there was excruciating pain during labour – and that upset some people. I had someone comment that I should be careful of how I word things because it may be upsetting to those trying for a calm and stress free birth. I certainly didn’t intend to upset or scare anyone, the benefit of many years of hindsight and the fact I won’t ever have to experience childbirth again, allowed me to be a little flippant with my words. I had a wonderful experience and I wouldn’t change anything about it.
I do not want to take away from the fact that the day you give birth to your baby is one of the most special moments you will ever experience. Truly, there is nothing in the world like it. I do want women to know, though, that they are not defined by their birth story and it is a small part of a very long and wonderful journey. You may get the magical labour with the candles or in the bath and with your favorite song playing as you push your baby out into the world. More likely, though, once you start having contractions your focus will be on getting the kid out of you so the pain stops. It hurts. I’m sorry but it does. There is no shame in asking for pain relief and there are no rewards for medication-free births.
In fact, no one cares if you had them or not, so just do what feels right for you. I love hearing birth stories, probably because I am not currently pregnant and about to go through it. I did go back a second time around, though, so it can’t have been too bad.
This article by me originally appeared in The Canberra Times