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Birth Plans vs. Birth Hopes – My "Natural" Childbirth

By EmilyBMalone |


I have birth hopes instead of birth plans.

Our bodies are amazing machines.  Thirty-five weeks of pregnancy has definitely taught me that time and time again.  With almost nine months under my belt, I have had plenty of time to think about how my body is actually going to birth this giant kicking baby that entertains me all day long.

I have watched movies and read many books, hoping to best prepare myself for the adventure that is childbirth.  I have had many long discussions with Casey about factors that are important to both of us, how we plan to support each other, and what we hope our delivery day will be.

In my childbirth classes, we have talked about birth plans.  It’s important to have an idea of what type of interventions you may want, and knowledge about what your options are as different scenarios arise.  As far as my personal birth plans go, there are only two bullets on my list…

1. To listen to my body

2. To listen to my medical team.

I know so many moms that have poured through book after book, listened to meditation CD’s, and role-played through coping techniques in preparation for what they are determined to be an all-natural childbirth.  Some of them got the birth that they wanted.  Most of them didn’t.  Most of them ended up being induced, hooked up to monitors, and sometimes even with cesarean sections.  But “natural” or not, they all ended up with gorgeous healthy babies.

The only physical challenge I can (personally) relate pregnancy to is running.  I have done a good number of races -– some of which have been great, and others that have been a disaster.  One thing I have learned from training for distance running is that no matter how hard you train, how well you fuel, and how rested you feel -– you cannot always control what happens when you get to the starting line.

I’ve run races where I felt like I was in great shape and there was no reason why I shouldn’t run a personal best.  And then I’ve ended up walking through the finish line, feeling angry with myself and confused by my body’s inability to do what I felt it should.

On the day my son is born, there is no place for those types of feelings.  I have eaten well, stayed as active as has been comfortable, and I’ve taken good care of myself for the duration of my pregnancy.  If I end up with a c-section, does that mean that all of those efforts were a failure?  Of course not.  There are no failures in childbirth.  Only babies, and families, and birthdays.

So after all my careful reading, documentary watching, and question asking, my birth plan is to not have a plan.  Will my childbirth be “natural?”  To me, natural means knowing my body and my limits, and letting go enough to trust the process and the support people I have chosen.

I know that my labor and delivery is to many extents beyond my control.  I won’t be setting myself up for feelings of inadequacy or failure or making any big proclamations about what I will expect that day.

I don’t have birth plans.  I have birth hopes.  And I hope that on my son’s birthday, our story ends (and begins!) with a happy and healthy beautiful baby.

No matter how he gets here, he was created with love and grew through the power and miracle of the human body.  If there is one word to describe all of that, it is most definitely natural.

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About EmilyBMalone



Emily Malone shares her adventures in cooking and parenting on her personal blog, Daily Garnish. Read bio and latest posts → Read Emily's latest posts →

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0 thoughts on “Birth Plans vs. Birth Hopes – My "Natural" Childbirth

  1. Nicole says:

    I think you provide a great reminder to everyone! The goal is a happy, healthy baby and mom. I have taken Bradley classes to prepare myself for a natural birth. I think it’s key to remember that if for whatever reason I end up with a C section, that doesn’t mean I’ve failed, it just means that he needed to get here another way. As long as he and I are both healthy that’s all that matters in the end, right?

  2. snakecharmer says:

    Wonderfully written!
    I created a birth ‘plan’ but really they were just guidelines. I prepared as much as I could for the big day and had faith in the people I had chosen to support me through the process. I have no regrets. I refused to drive myself crazy by making decisions on details that I knew may or may not happen…I just went with it moment by moment.

  3. Amigail says:

    You touch on my exact birth plan too! Be informed, open, and listen to your body. I feel bad for mothers who feel disappointed in themselves for getting an epidural, like they somehow failed the test! Not having a plan means you won’t be disappointed when things don’t go exactly as you decided.

  4. Anya says:

    Bravo. I think this is a really sane way to approach things and to make peace with the fact that this process is not in your control.
    You can create the conditions to make the outcome you hope for easier. For me, (now at 28 weeks) that means staying home in a comfortable setting with my husband and my doula until I am in completely active labor. But I know I can’t control the outcome.

  5. Kristen @ Birthing Beautiful Ideas says:

    I love framing birth plans as “birth hopes!” This is exactly what they are, because there is no way to plan a birth with 100% certainty–even when it comes to a planned cesarean.

    With my doula clients, I always make sure to call birth plans “birth preference lists.” I think it’s fabulous to research your options and to articulate your preferences to your care provider. This can generate some great discussions! It can also ensure that if your care provider is willing to support you in something that the hospital staff might not ALWAYS see–like intermittent monitoring, laboring in the water, immediate contact between mom and baby in the OR, etc.–they can either sign or initial your birth preference list so that the hospital staff knows that your own care provider supports you in that preference.

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