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.
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
- “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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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
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.
- 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!
- Save your negative thoughts. Please don’t project your own fears or inability to tolerate pain onto your friend.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
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.