Childbirth Anxiety: My Birth Plan Went Out The Window

Mid-Michigan Moms is thrilled to partner with McLaren Lapeer Region and McLaren Flint to bring you Navigating Your Pregnancy, an editorial series event. In this installment of our Editorial Series Collection, McLaren, and the#MidMichiganMoms team share fifteen different posts addressing all aspects of life as a pregnant woman. From humor to birth stories, to accounts of perseverance, no topic is left off the table. Tune in, learn, share, and join the conversation!

I am not necessarily a Type A person in all aspects of my life, but when it came to having a baby, I followed every direction, rule, and little bit of advice my OB gave me. You name it, I was doing it. That included signing up for any and every expectant parent class available, and creating a birth plan. My husband and I learned about breastfeeding, infant CPR, changing diapers, dressing the child, pet safety, home safety, and a million other valuable parenting lessons.

Then came the Labor and Delivery class, and my birth plan went out the window. I remember looking over at my husband within the first 15 minutes of class, mouthing a bunch of explicit words followed by ‘get me out of here’.

It wasn’t that the information was bad or invaluable, but this was real life. No more staged videos, no more diagrams. We legitimately watched a lady go through the entire birthing process. I had less than two months to go in my pregnancy, and I was on the verge of a complete mental breakdown.

I told my husband the whole way home from class that I couldn’t do it {as if giving birth was running a marathon and I had a choice}. I called my mom in tears, telling her I had no idea how I was going to get that baby out of me, and that it looked like the worst experience of one’s life.  

On the other hand, my newly educated husband was really emphasizing the importance of natural birth. I was scared to death and felt like others would think less of me unless I went the natural route. Actually, I thought they would be disappointed in me. Because, you know, if so-and-so could do it un-medicated, surely so could I. Right?! I kept hearing phrases like ‘you know Pitocin is bad for you,’ and ‘you won’t need an epidural, you’re tough’ in my head. I didn’t know what my birth plan should be.

This led me to spend an entire night Googling the below questions:

  • the pressure to have natural birth
  • are you less of a woman for having an epidural?
  • how far into labor can you get an epidural?

Yes, pregnancy hormones make you crazy! Everyone having an opinion on how you should have your baby can make you even CRAZIER. Needless to say, my outlook and birth plan evolved into a total disaster.

Fast forward to August – my water broke, and the entire car ride my sunny-side-up baby was causing hellacious pain on my back, to the point that my legs were going numb. During that 45-minute car ride {which could have been longer if I had I said yes to my husband when he asked to stop for breakfast!} I didn’t once think about that yellow piece of paper with my birth plan so neatly written on it. I’m not sure if it was when I barfed in the middle of the lobby, or when my IV ripped out that I decided that this was MY birth and that no one else’s opinion of me mattered. This was not the video I watched in class, and sure as heck not the gentle laboring where soothing techniques would calm my nerves. I was in serious pain that I did not like. TWO epidurals and 12 hours later I held a sweet baby boy in my arms. And to top it all off, my husband still loved me, and my sister with her bag full of natural soothing techniques was still proud of me. Heck, I was proud of myself.

Say what you want: I could have toughed it out, or I shouldn’t have given in to the pain so early. I know that my answer of YES to the epidural was a great decision. Because that was the route that I chose.  

Here’s what I learned after my baby’s birth that wasn’t taught in my Labor and Delivery class: what others say should not affect your birth plan or how you think others will view you. You’re giving birth and that, in itself, is enough!

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Hi! I'm Stephanie co-found and co-owner of Mid-Michigan Moms. I'm a working mom of three wild babes and one naughty dog. I love everything about living in Michigan - that means lakes in the summer and snow in the winter. When I'm not spending time outdoors with my family (or working) I enjoy hosting, Michigan State football + basketball, true crime TV + pop culture documentaries, trips to Target, shopping the N Sale, and filling up my calendar with adventures! I honored to be a part of this amazing community here at Mid-Michigan Moms, and am so excited to share and learn along with you in this journey called motherhood!