Support Your Pregnant Friend’s Birth Plan

by Ivy B
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Does your pregnant friend have a birth plan you don’t really get?  How to offer real support for a birth plan, even if you don’t understand it.

When it comes to the support we give for a woman’s birth plan, we have it all wrong!

A woman’s birth plan is as individual as she is.  Whether her plan is no plan or a home birth, she has an idea about what she expects of her labor and delivery.

Generally, I like to assume a woman has done her research, to the best of her abilities, to determine how she would like her birth to go.  Why do I assume that?  I remember spending countless hours reading books and watching videos that gave me a load of information to support my natural birth plan.

Unfortunately, I rarely found the topic to be supported by women I came into contact with.  Even well-meaning friends or family didn’t realize some of their comments weren’t exactly positive or supportive.  I received a lot of advice that sounded supportive, but had an underlying negative/doubtful tone.

Our birth plans are as individual as we are. How we should really offer our support of individual birth plans. What birth plan support should be like for an expectant mom | www.sahmplus.com

I need to share that many women need more support than they’re receiving.  Your soon-to-be mom friend is just starting to get a glimpse of how judgmental other moms can be.  Do you really think she needs to start that journey with those close to her second-guessing her ideal birth?  She needs to know you’re going to be someone she can rely on from the beginning of her journey as a new mom.

Please realize, these things came from my own experiences when I discussed my plans for a natural birth.

How Not to Support a Birth Plan

  1. “We’ll see how you feel when you go into labor.”  I can’t tell you how many times I heard that I’d change my mind as soon as I went into labor. What I got out of statements like this is that either you weren’t well-prepared, you were afraid, or you just couldn’t find a way to handle the pain.
  2. Telling birth horror stories.  Who doesn’t love a good horror story?  I mean, tearing, trauma, preeclampsia, and life-saving c-section stories are all relevant right?
  3. Reiterating myths surrounding childbirth.  Things like “I’d be surprised if your doctor allows you to have the baby naturally … you’re too small.”  Spouting off scientifically untrue statements about ones inability to pass a baby helps no one.
  4. Comments disguised as support.  “It’s okay if you need the drugs.”  “As soon as I got the epidural I was able to relax and progressed more quickly.”  This kind of fits into #1, but is better masked to sound supportive.  You’re insinuating someone can’t do something.

 How to Support Your Friend’s Birth Plan

How to offer REAL support for a #naturalbirth plan #birthplan #pregnancy Click To Tweet

Can I just say this?  Ladies, we seem to be the worst at offering REAL support when people need it the most.  Too many times, I heard backhanded advice.  And, it’s all being passed down from generation to generation.  Younger women are regurgitating the same un-supportive, comments we’ve received from parents, grandparents, and aunts.  What your friend needs is your support, no matter what her birth plan is.  These are tips to help you (effectively) support her plans to bring her baby into the world.

  1. Tell her you love it.  First and foremost, tell your friend you love her birth plan.  Let her know you support her decisions without question!
  2. Save your negative thoughts.  Please don’t project your own fears or inability to tolerate pain onto your friend.
  3. Save your horror stories for a therapist.  Just because something happened to you in labor and delivery, doesn’t mean it happens to everyone.  If you’re traumatized by it, seek counseling.  Don’t strike fear into the heart of your loved one.  If you feel the need to share your story, be kind enough to tell her that you want her to know your experience (if you know of a way to avoid it), not that you believe it will happen to her.
  4. Do research before commenting.  Don’t perpetuate unfounded myths about a woman’s inability to birth her own child.  Things like your hips won’t pass a baby are just untrue. (I can vouch for this falsehood as I was a mere 92 lbs when I got pregnant with my second baby.  He was born at almost 8 lbs and I had NO trouble delivering him naturally).
  5. Don’t tell her it’s okay if she caves.  Telling someone ahead of time its okay to take the drugs insinuates you don’t believe they can do it.  Please don’t try to help a mother doubt her ability.

How to REALLY support a natural birth plan

I am all for encouraging women to choose natural childbirth.  Because I had two of my own, I don’t understand planning anything but un-medicated births (not that I’m even considering more than the two I have).  Still, when someone tells me their plans to take drugs, I don’t insist I know any better.  If that’s what they’re choosing, I might ask questions about why to try to get a better understanding of their logic.  But, I don’t tell them they’re wrong.  I don’t try to make them feel inferior or incapable or that they’re making the wrong decision.  Their body, their baby.

I’m just begging you, ladies, to please be more considerate and respect a mother’s birth plans.  Choose your words more carefully, and let’s stop passing down fear of birthing our babies.

To truly support natural birth, we must stop creating doubt in the minds of mothers #pregnancy #childbirth #support Click To Tweet

What else would you add?  How do you think your friends could better support your birth plan?

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34 comments

Jasmine Hewitt November 7, 2016 - 10:06 pm

I agree (and even wrote about this!) there’s way too much negativity surrounding birth plans that differ in any way than what any other mother has experienced. Women need to be more understanding and less shameful, no matter what they think/experienced, because their opinion is only based on exactly that-their experience, no one else’s. Great post!
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Ivy B November 8, 2016 - 10:16 am

Jasmine, Thank you for visiting and sharing your thoughts.

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vickie couturier November 9, 2016 - 12:45 pm

I had to do this with my daughter and my daughter in law,,its their birth plan not mine,,,its not how i did it or would do it,,and as a retired ob/gyn nurse it was very hard to keep my mouth shut but i did,,,

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Ivy B November 9, 2016 - 1:00 pm

Vicki, I love your response. I’m sure it was tough, but I bet your daughter and daughter-in-law were very appreciative of it. I know, personally, how much it means when someone respects your birth plans and supports you regardless of their experiences. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts 🙂

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Stefani @ Crafty Christian November 10, 2016 - 12:10 pm

Love this! Everyone has their own way of doing things and just because it’s different than yours, doesn’t mean that it’s wrong! Also, just because someone wants a natural birth doesn’t mean that they look down on people that don’t… we really all just need to stop assuming things about each other and comparing!
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Ivy B November 10, 2016 - 5:11 pm

You’re so right. I don’t look down on people that don’t do natural birth. I have expressed a sadness, but it’s never directed at the mother. I’m always sad that Doctors and media portray it to be something women aren’t capable of doing. That’s the part that makes me sad.

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Alexandria November 10, 2016 - 1:08 pm

Yes, yes, and yes!!! So many people made condescending remarks to me about my birth plan, which was an un-medicated home birth after cesarean. Things like, oh, you’ll want the epidural, you should go to the hospital, a friend of a friend of a friend’s baby died while she was in labor. It was all so aggravating, but luckily I’m head strong and fought hard for what I knew was right for me and my baby.
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Ivy B November 10, 2016 - 4:31 pm

Did you have your home birth?
Congratulations on making a different decision and fighting for what you wanted! How empowering <3

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Arianne November 10, 2016 - 3:27 pm

Agree! I’ve been guilty of doing things or saying things that “I” thought were supportive… The tips you gave seems so simple, and NEEDED. It means so much to the mommy to be. Being thoughtful and putting their needs first is one of the best support you can give. And, I’m all for researching first… it’s one of the best things you can do for your friend. Love it!

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Ivy B November 10, 2016 - 4:30 pm

I think we all do it, because we all have an experience that we can share, so it seems to be the right thing to do at the time. I struggle with it myself. I had a hard time understanding a friend’s plan to have a second c-section so I found it best to ask A LOT of questions. That was the best thing I could have done. She asked me tons of questions about natural birth. Neither of us could imagine ourselves in each others positions, but the discussions were always very respectful. It really does mean a lot to the expectant mommy.

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Mary Barham November 10, 2016 - 9:33 pm

omg I am so nodding my head while reading this post!!! I cannot tell you how many birth horror stories I heard that scared me too death!!!

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Ivy B November 10, 2016 - 9:41 pm

Oh Mary, I’m so sorry. I can see how much it could potentially be damaging to expectant moms (especially first timers). I wish we could share more beautiful and encouraging birth stories.

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Savannah November 10, 2016 - 11:02 pm

This is soooo wonderful!!! I, too, planned a natural birth with my son, and I received soooooo many negative comments. So much doubt! So much condescending laughter. Honestly, it hurt.

But, at the end of my natural birth, there was definitely a moment of “I told you so, I CAN do this!!”
Thank you so much for this <3

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Ivy B November 11, 2016 - 8:27 am

I’m so glad you found the strength to do it, despite the negativity. And, that’s the best moment, when you can thing “I told you so.” <3

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Emily November 11, 2016 - 1:42 am

I’m guilty! We need to be more supportive and encourage them with whatever decision they make. As long as they know all their options and they can always change their birth plan if they decide. We all have different experiences and shouldn’t generalize. We also have different values that need to be respected. Great job with this post!

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Ivy B November 11, 2016 - 8:29 am

Hi Emily, thank you for the response. I learned a lesson during my last pregnancy that will always stick with me. When I wasn’t certain of someone’s decisions, I asked questions. It started open, friendly dialogue. We learned more than making our blanket statements of our experiences.

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dani November 11, 2016 - 9:22 am

Thank you for this.. my best friend is expecting a baby and as I read through your post I realised I’ve unintentionally done some of these things, and I feel so bad now!!!! Can’t believe mommy wars start even before we become moms and so many times it’s not on purpose…

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Ivy B November 11, 2016 - 9:30 am

Hi Dani! Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Reminding ourselves to be conscious of our words “in the moment” is difficult. Even I struggle with it at times. In conversation, I have to remind myself to ask a question when dealing with something I don’t understand or agree with. It’s so much easier, in my opinion, to just share our experiences or knowledge without thinking about it. And you’re right, it’s not an intentional jab, but it can certainly come across that way. I’m sure your friend understands you mean well 🙂

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Casey November 11, 2016 - 9:35 am

Being a good friend means agreeing to disagree (if that’s the case) and being supportive during HER special time 🙂

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Ivy B November 11, 2016 - 9:51 am

Very true. Even if you disagree, it’s best to say “I’m here for you” and truly be there, regardless of your experiences or her outcome.

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Georgiana November 11, 2016 - 1:28 pm

Truth! LOL, telling horror stories seems to be a favorite passtime, but what is that supposed to accomplish? It really comes down to courtesy.

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Ivy B November 11, 2016 - 4:04 pm

I’m sure what it “should” accomplish, but it definitely creates doubt. Thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂

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Stacy- Taylor411 November 11, 2016 - 3:59 pm

I totally agree to each is their own. It’s so nice when people support your choice. I had a few people against my birth plan and it made things extremely hard for me.

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Ivy B November 11, 2016 - 4:07 pm

It does, absolutely! We shouldn’t be making it hard on women to make these choices. Being a parent starts hard … this is when we begin seeing the first of many years of questioning ourselves as parents. It’s sad how much we destroy each other, instead of respecting a woman’s choices beginning before birth. 🙁

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Christine - The Choosy Mommy November 11, 2016 - 8:44 pm

Except my friends say tell me like it is! So I tell them. But I totally get it. I have a horror story and I am not afraid of sharing it but it only happens to like 1 in 100,000 people.

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Ivy B November 11, 2016 - 10:18 pm

Christine,

I encourage you to continue telling your story, both for your healing and to help others who need sympathy. But, your story isn’t “like it is” for every birth plan, therefore likely isn’t useful for more than creating doubt or fear in a mother.

For the purposes of this post, I shared what I felt when I was a first time expectant mom and what many women tell me they hear and wish they didn’t. Horror stories didn’t scare me from choosing my natural birth plan … it fueled a fire deep inside me to prove I could do it. But, many women don’t feel the same way. They begin to question their abilities. Their doubts often aren’t based in fact, rather on the negativity and fear that surrounds them.

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Tiffany | shortsweetmom November 12, 2016 - 4:05 pm

I love this! I am 5 1′ and was 97lbs when I found out I was pregnant. A few people asked if I had to have a c-section be cause of my size. I agree that this is because of false information. I am happy to say that I was able to have my baby at a birth center without any pain medications. This did not just happen spur the moment. My husband and I took the Bradley Method classes which I highly recommend! I did my own research and did not go off of what people told me. I have many friends that did not chose the same birth plan and that is beyond ok! I love that you are encouraging support between mamas. No matter what birth plan they chose!
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Ivy B November 12, 2016 - 4:53 pm

Hi Tiffany!
I had someone tell me “you’re doctor isn’t going to let you deliver naturally because of your size.” I mean I had heard of doctors that make those assumptions, but none of the 3 doctors in the practice ever insinuated my size would prevent me from being able to birth a baby. Honestly, if one had, I would have been seeking a new practice. Again, its a fear tactic which I’m sad gets passed around as fact. And too many ladies aren’t being told otherwise.
Thank you for sharing your story! I love it <3

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Jennifer November 12, 2016 - 6:53 pm

This was very interesting to read…especially as I prep my plan for number 2!

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Ivy B November 12, 2016 - 6:58 pm

Good luck on your plans 🙂

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Madi November 12, 2016 - 11:02 pm

I totally agree with not telling horror stories! I hated hearing those when I was pregnant and didn’t know what to expect!

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Ivy B November 13, 2016 - 1:35 pm

It definitely isn’t productive. I hope you were able to overcome any fear and have a wonderful birth experience!

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Inez November 21, 2016 - 5:02 pm

I can’t even put into words how much I LOVE this post!! I think people forget the fragility of a pregnant mama’s emotions. Be loving and supportive, people. 🙂

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Ivy B November 21, 2016 - 8:47 pm

Inez, thank you so much. You’re right … a pregnant woman is already full of emotions unlike any she’s never experienced before. Any negativity, especially those not based on facts just make things worse for her. <3

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