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When Sticking to Your Birth Plan Makes You an Idiot

I read an article last week on Babble “My VBAC Success Story” with the subtitle “I ignored my doctor to have the birth I wanted”.

When Sticking to Your Birth Plan Makes You an Idiot

Now don’t get me wrong, if I didn’t have C-sections I would be the hypnobirthing queen. Who knows, by now I’d probably be at home giving birth in one of those big birthing jacuzzis and burying my placenta in the backyard.

Baby #1

I did hypnobirthing with my first child which ultimately ended in an emergency C-section. I was a ninja. I was dilated to an 8. Totally comfortable. I was in the zone. But my labor (all 18 hours of it) wasn’t progressing well and my little guy was getting tired and his heart rate became unstable. After trying every trick in the book with my midwife it was time to throw in the towel and have a c-section.

Baby #2

I was determined to have my 2nd be a VBAC. I busted out my hypnobirthing tapes again (did I just say tapes?), I wrote up my birth plan, I made my soundtrack, I was geared up and ready to go. Until of course my doctor said NO. My little girl wasn’t growing a whole lot and she was breach. A VBAC did not look like a good option in my scenario. I asked if we could try a VBAC if she flipped around and turned head down and he said he’d consider it. By my next appt. I’d used my hypnotic mind powers to get her to flip with her head down, but she still wasn’t showing as much growth progress as he wanted her to.  He did a non stress test and she passed with flying colors.  He still told me that he felt I needed a C-section.

At this point I’m getting fired up. I’m practically throwing up my gown and asking to be checked. I even asked “Please . . . pretty please induce me instead! Let me wait another week! PLEASE!”. I got a big N.O. He sent my husband home to get my things and sent me off to prep for surgery.

I stood in the bathroom and cried. This is not how I wanted things to go. This was, once again, NOT in MY birth plan.


Well. My doctor sliced and diced and I remember him saying surprised “Oh wow! There she is!” And in my very advanced, college educated mind I’m thinking, “Well of course you can see her! You just cut me open! She’s just chilling in there in a little clear sac!” (not realizing that the uterus is a muscle that holds the clear sac of fluid that is holding that baby and that the uterus should not be see through).

He went on to explain to me that I had a paper thin window on my uterus about the size of a football that was literally ready to shred to pieces. He could see through what should be a thick muscle as if it were glass.  Thus the “There she is!”.


What does that mean? It means that my uterus was about to rupture. It means that if I had gone into labor on my own and waited it out at home 30 minutes away from the nearest hospital that my baby and I would have been in big trouble. It means that had I been induced in the walls of the hospital that my uterus would have most likely ruptured sending us into an emergency c-section/hysterectomy if I was lucky.  In short, it means that had I had my way I would have subjected us both to physical dangers that could have had catastrophic effects.

But none of that happened. I delivered a 6 pound baby inside a sunny O.R. with the Barenaked Ladies singing lullabies in the background. I guessed her weight to the ounce and marveled at how she came out with all of that dark hair.


I had an overwhelming feeling of being watched over, and an overwhelming realization of my own foolishness.

I realize that medicine is a big business. We all want to stick it to the man. But sometimes having your way just isn’t worth it.  I’m going to bet that there are simply some doctors out there who would prefer that you have a repeat c-section for your safety, not their paycheck. Maybe, just maybe some of those doctors have seen some things happen that they don’t want to happen to you. Um, like let’s say, hysterectomies, long term damage to your health, losing your baby, and losing you.

So while the battle cry of “ignore your doctor” is fine in theory. What about when it’s not? Are you prepared for that little snag in your birth plan?

To be clear, I support doing your best to stick to a birth plan and style of your choosing. But let’s not get so married to that plan, and what we think child birth should look like, that we’re inflexible, and ignore what is actually good advice . . . because we want it OUR way.

So while there are some of you out there who need to hear “Stick to your guns! Do it your way”, still others need to hear “It’s OK if it doesn’t go as planned.” Or better yet, GET OVER IT! While your vaginal birth friends are peeing their pants when they sneeze, run, or jump on the tramp, you and your c-section business will be doing backflips and running marathons with dry panties. That’s something worth cheering for!

Editor’s Note:

This post is NOT about encouraging everyone to go out and get a C-Section.  This post is about being flexible with our expectations. It’s about life really. It’s about being OK with the way things turn out (especially when they are out of our hands).  And no, I’m not calling YOU an idiot. This story is about ME. Me being stubborn, and ME almost making a gigantic mistake because I wanted things to look a certain way. 

More Birth Stories on

My First Surrogate Pregnancy


Birth Experiences: My Home Birth

Act 1: Sleeping Through Labor

More Birth Stories

AND if you need a good laugh: Jamie and Jeff’s Birth Plan

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Comments (66)

  1. Janie 05/24/2015 at 5:08 pm

    Heather I couldn’t agree more. So much pressure on women to give birth the “perfect way” and in the end a healthy baby and mum are all that matter. I loved the article and think mums to be should be given this assurance. I will say there seems to be a little bit of “neener neener neener”/bitterness when she talks about not having urine leakage as though that happens after all vaginal births, but that’s not the case. It CAN happen after C-sections – just like the vaginal canal, breast size (even if didn’t breast feed)and all sorts of other things can change post pregnancy no matter how the birthing happens. The fact is hormones, pressure of baby on pelvic floor during pregnancy, you name it – all can cause post pregnancy issues. We’re all different and that’s what I think the bottom line is – respecting our own situations and choices and knowing its okay. And if someone ends up with sagging or smaller or larger breasts or sagging tummies or stretch marks or urine leakage or heavier periods, shouldn’t we accept that too and let mums focus on the amazing jobs they just did growing a baby instead of comparing and competing with how post birth should be – that if you’re doing it right” you should look like a Hollywood actress within a month of giving birth?

  2. melissa 05/21/2015 at 7:38 am

    “It’s OK if it doesn’t go as planned.” I love this, I wish that’s what every one would say to mom’s getting ready to have babies. I wish people didn’t decide that you’ve only “given birth” if you push a baby out. I gave birth to both of mine. My first was an emergency c-section that happened after my epidural wore off and they were not able to do anything about the pain because they were in such a hurry. I’ve never been so glad to see meds pushed as I was the instant the cord was cut. My second was a c-section by choice. I did not want to labor for days and end up with an emergency section like the first time. I just wanted a calm birth. Turns out my little man felt like breathing was optional and because it was a section things were only mildly terrifying instead of perhaps tragic.

    If people have a doctor who is pushing them to do something for the doctors convenience you have picked the wrong doctor. I switched half way through my care and I’m so glad I did. I realize we are the mom’s and we should be in charge, but most of us did not go to medical school. Isn’t that the reason we are paying the big bucks and going into their office?

    To each her own, I don’t judge people who have their babies at home in a warm pool of water, I just wish they’d quit judging me for my choices.

  3. Victoria 04/20/2015 at 9:05 pm

    I am happy for people who have great experiences with their birth plan. My own sister found that having a doula by her side made her delivery that much more manageable. I have also had two friends whose home deliveries ended in emergenciy trips the hospital. For me, I listened to tapes and then found out that I had pre-eclampsia, the seriousness of which I did not understand.. I was whisked to the hospital within an hour of diagnosis two months before I was actually due. If I hadn’t been going to a higher risk clinic (which I didn’t think I needed) I would never have been diagnosed. My baby was stillborn at eight months and what I didn’t know was that it is not uncommon for mothers to die too. The second time around I was rushed to the hospital and was delivered a month early. All I wanted was bright lights, a shiny metal table, an extremely competent obstetrician and lots and lots of lifesaving machinery around me. Turned out that is exactly what I needed when we lost the baby’s heartbeat. I hadn’t realized the code had been called for me until six doctors and nurses crashed through the door. I was able to have an emergency c-section and for that I am incredibly grateful. I was lucky. I had intensive supervision before my pregnancy so it was clear that I was not a good risk for an at-home pregnancy. But I don’t know that I would ever be comfortable recommending them for someone else. So many factors at play.

  4. kylie 03/27/2015 at 6:59 am

    My first was breach and when we went in a second time to try and flip him they found that my amniotic fluid was very low. So, we had an emergency c-section. We joke you could here a pop as they unstuck his butt from my pelvis. My second I was bound and determined to have a VBAC. I had music, my mum, and a plan. Unfortunately after 18 hours and having my water broke, I only dilated to a barely 2. I was tired and just wanted to meet my baby boy. The docs were great and said they could sleep me for awhile and see what happened, I chose to have my boy right then. I don’t regret a thing.

  5. Lisa 01/28/2015 at 1:06 pm

    Can I visit with you about possibly reprinting/re-publishing this article in our HealthLines newsletter, on our BabyNotes blog, etc.? We would love to share your story with our readers in the region, offering them some options.

  6. Eleasha 01/21/2015 at 9:15 pm

    The part that struck me was that your baby passed the non stress test with flying colours but doc still insisted on a section, and wanted it done NOW so he sent hubby home for your stuff! There is hopefully more to that account. If baby is doing fine why not give you some time to think over the info he has given you? Let you go home and gather your own things? Have a last meal with hubby? You say you felt pushed asside and abused, my words, how would you feel today had the uterus been strong, healthy and competant but he cut you open anyways? Would not THAT trauma take years to work through? That is why woman make a plan, to try to avoid spending years healing what an impatient surgion did to them. Uterine rupture doesnt only happen in labour. Every section put each subsequent pregnancy at risk, there is valid reason to try to avoid them. It is about informed consent and being able to trust your docs advice.

    • Caroline 05/15/2015 at 7:44 am

      That is not ”trauma”. That is you acting on the best advice your doctor can give you. Baby was not growing properly, this indicated an issue. Yes, it might possibly maybe have been fine, but the notion that by insisting that she act immediately to save her health, the doctor was somehow ”tramuatising her” is just not reasonable.

  7. Sarah Messina 01/21/2015 at 8:47 pm

    I’m cringing and crying reading this… My first was a C-section, he was breech.My next 2 were V-Bacs. Both times my water broke starting labor and my girls were born with in 5 hrs, natural. The second VBac was difficult and my daughter suffered a broken shoulder. I barely got her out and only with my OB pushing on my belly to help get her out. Then came my 4th. Doctor failed to be present at my labor, which was induced with meds instead of breaking water, leaving me with a midwife in an hospital with a closed OR… 16hrs into labor my Uterus ruptured at the site of my first c-section scar. My baby drowned inside of me as I bled out. I survived but he suffered massive braindamage. Because the doctor was not there, and had to be paged along with OR staff, It was almost an hour before they cut me open. My son spent 14 yrs fighting for each day with the mental capacity of a 6 month old baby. He just passed away this past October when he went into respiratory failure. The thing people need to understand is Something can go wrong at anytime. Your not guaranteed a perfect delivery every time and you need to be willing to change your plans on the fly. I begged for a C-section twice during my labor because I knew something was wrong and was denied both times. It nearly cost me my life and did cost my son his!

    • ashley 01/23/2015 at 5:26 am

      I’m so sorry for your loss, and for all you went through. I wanted a vbac with my second child and had a Dr tell me ‘you know your baby could die?’ I thought he was a horrible Dr. But after reading this, now I’m thinking maybe he seen something like what you went through and didn’t want me to take that risk.

      • Sarah 01/25/2015 at 7:53 pm

        He probably thought your scar tissue was to thin! Be thankful he did…

  8. njrmom 01/21/2015 at 6:07 pm

    I had a uterine window too, scared my Dr. He’d kind of argued with me when I told him months before I wanted my tubes tied after this baby (my third) but he quickly made it very clear to me he agreed with my decision to not have anymore children. The words he and his assist spoke exactly were “oh that’s all that’s holding her together?!” Yikes

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  10. manda 08/04/2014 at 10:58 am

    Expecting my first and completely overwhelmed by all the “views” on the “right” way to have a child. I keep thinking I want to be in as much control as I can but for centuries women died giving birth the “natural way”. So as much as I sometime distrust doctors, their expertise is needed and can be life-saving.

  11. Heather Berg. 04/03/2012 at 4:48 pm

    Thank you. More women, especially those who have emergency C sections or have experiences like yours, NEED to hear this, over and over. A C Section is not a failure. I haven’t had one, but so many of my friends did. None of theirs were because they just didn’t feel like giving birth the old fashioned way. C section versus VBAC versus plain ordinary vaginal birth versus home birth versus- dude. Is the baby safe? Is the Mama safe? Ok then.

    We all need to stop comparing our lives and our experiences. Whether we are comparing and OTHERS come up short, or we are comparing and WE come up short, either way, it does not matter. Mothers need to support Mothers. Thank you for doing just that 🙂

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  14. Mama Wrench 12/03/2011 at 2:09 pm

    Also, just out of curiosity: Why did your doctor (I presume) not check your uterine scar or thickness via ultrasound prior to recommending repeat c-section? THAT seems irresponsible to me. I’ve had my scar checked at each U/S and everything looks good. I’d never consent to a routine repeat c/s without at least requesting an ultrasound to confirm necessity. Now, that’s just me — but it’s also possible that having gotten an ultrasound would make women who are insistent upon “sticking to the plan” more likely to change their minds BEFORE they’re unable to change their minds, before labor, before risk becomes reality.

    • Ashleigh 10/31/2016 at 10:49 am

      I had a fantastic OB deliver my 2nd child and never asked or checked my previous c/s scar. She refused because my son, delivered c/s was only 19 months old. She would not try for a VBAC at all. To her THAT was irresponsible, to try.

  15. Mama Wrench 12/03/2011 at 1:32 pm

    “While your vaginal birth friends are peeing their pants when they sneeze, run, or jump on the tramp, you and your c-section business will be doing backflips and running marathons with dry panties. That’s something worth cheering for!”

    What, exactly, is the reason for this comment? To justify the decision against VBAC? To make vaginal birth out as a physical trauma while a c-section isn’t? You’ve just ruined your credibility, whether it’s a joke or not.

    Everything in life has risk. Period. And each individual’s situation is different. Unless you’re actually looking at someone’s medical records and sitting through their doctors’ appointments there’s no way to know if a woman is being informed and actively involved in her medical care or if she’s being irresponsible.

    • B 01/21/2015 at 7:02 pm

      Those of us who have had c-section know that most people act like something was wrong with us. They have no idea what it’s like to have a c-section yet they act like we could have stopped it somehow. I’ve been judged a lot for it, and some of us are in pain for years from it. Scar tissue feels different to everyone, mine hurts. My doctor knows and it’s pretty common. There are more positives for vaginal birth that people want to shove down our throats, and act like your c-section wasn’t so bad.

    • Daneeka 01/22/2015 at 2:47 am

      I also found that particularly distasteful & clearlt with no idea what causes LBL. It is a lack of prlvic floor muscle (a muscle that gets a significant workout during a vaginal birth). A muscle that takes a beating throughout pregnancy because a four kilo baby plus the rest bounces on the muscle for 9 months. Regular excercise will help fix it but a C-section won’t prevent it.

    • ashley 01/23/2015 at 7:02 am

      I am so sick and tired of the cry babies of this world. GET OVER YOURSELF! when someone says here is a positive thing to look forward to for one group of people that does not mean they are against anyone who does not fall into that group. clearly she needs no justification for the choice to not have a vbac other than the fact that her baby and her lives were both in danger had she went through with a vbac. Also if you have never had a c section you don’t think about the emotional toll it takes. You feel like a failure at being a mom at the most basic level. So sometimes we do need to look at the positive side of it for a minute.

  16. Stephanie Porter 12/02/2011 at 1:47 pm

    *Applause* It’s not about you – it’s about you and the baby. Love this.

  17. Michelle Tew 10/10/2011 at 11:26 pm

    Yes, I had a c-section followed by four v-bacs. By my sixth baby, I was not with my original doctor, and things were more relaxed. Past my due date, I was finally induced. This was the time I decided to try it without an epidural. The pain quickly got bad. The nurses told me oh, labor hurts. I asked for a painkiller, and then switched that to a request for an epidural. The pain was so strong that I could not hold still for an epidural. I described to the doctor the clawing feeling I had inside with each contraction. Soon I was nearly ripping my husband’s hand off with the contractions. I just wanted the pain to stop, even if that meant dying…I was rushed to the ER Code White for an emergency c-section. When I woke up, miraculously I was not dead, and I was not hurting. My 9 lb. 13 oz. baby girl and I were alive, but very blessed. The doctor said another twenty minutes and our vital organs would have begun to shut down. Later the doctor drew a picture of my uterus on my wipe board in my room. With each contraction my uterus had ripped more. This was the most painful thing I could ever imagine. My daughter is now ten, and we still consider ourselves very lucky and blessed to be here. Whatever you do, please be careful and choose what is best for the health of you and your sweet baby.

  18. Anastasia B 10/10/2011 at 5:47 pm

    I agree it is certainly OK for the birth not to go as planned and I think we all realize that it often doesn’t. But if I didn’t have a birth plan and didn’t stubbornly insist on what I wanted at the hospital, I would have an unnecessary c-section. So in some cases, where the baby’s life and your life isn’t really in danger (but the OBs dinner time is), a birth plan is a must and the only thing that will make the OB put your wishes above his own. Sticking to my birth plan didn’t make me an idiot, but yes, in some cases it may! Every birth is different. I’m glad it all ended well for you and baby! 🙂

  19. corrina @ Embrace This Day 10/10/2011 at 5:03 pm

    I love this post!! I have a very similar story and very similar take on birth, birth plans, c-sections and VBAC’s as a result. My first was breech and therefore a scheduled c-section. Upon delivery of her 8lb 30z body, the dr declared her quite wedged in my ribs, which explained the failed attempts to get her to turn. My 2nd daughter was an attempted VBAC, I went into labor on my own, progressed without pitocin and pushed for two hours…for nothing. She wasn’t budging. At which point the dr said it was time for a c-section. Part of me wanted to decline…but all along I’d said I would trust the doctor, so I did. Her heartrate disappeared in the OR while they were prepping me. They sliced and diced me as fast as possible and my uterus HAD ruptured, probably a result of all that pushing. Thankfully she was okay and so was my uterus–which went on to carry a third daughter, born 21 months later (oops!) and held up until 37wks when I started laboring, and so they did my c-section.

    But I still tell people, I don’t regret trying a VBAC and I’m so glad I listened to the dr and c-sections can be a good thing!

  20. Dee 10/10/2011 at 1:26 pm

    I was ready for my child. I so wanted a “natural” birth. I planned, wrote the plan, thought about it, everything. Only problem: my son didn’t read any of it. At 42 weeks, I hadn’t had a single contraction. Not one. Both my doc and my doula agreed that inducing was the way to go.

    Still, I was ready. Induce me, natural childbirth here I come.

    Nope. After 24 long hard hours, I was barely (yes, barely) dilated. The doc said I could continue, but that it just didn’t seem that my child wanted to come out that way. So…off we went to surgery to meet my little guy.

    We joke that my son would still be in there if he could be. He’s mama’s boy all over. I learned that not everything goes to plan, especially with kids. My doc was thankfully super laid back and let me make all the decisions; she guided me well as did my doula.

  21. Susan 10/10/2011 at 1:17 pm

    I had twins via c-section in 2009. I just had my third baby (second delivery) in August 2011. I was strongly considering a vbac for that delivery. My doctor said he would support me but made me aware of the risks. I went back and forth on the decision and ultimately decided that although the risk of rupture is around 2%, if I’m in that 2%, the consequences could be catastrophic and that 2% was too much risk for me and my daughter.

    I am extremely thankful I made that decision because during the surgery, it was discovered that I, too, had a large uterine window. That was a big reality check and I truly felt like I had dodged a bullet for me and my daughter. It was a scary feeling.

    Since I’ve experienced the same thing, I can completely relate to your thoughts and I agree with the point you’re making. There is a huge amount of pressure from pro vbac-ers, but women need to take those opinions with a grain of salt and make the best decision for themselves and their children. For me, this meant listening to my doctor.

    All in all, I also am of the opinion that it really doesn’t matter how they get here, as long as mom and baby are healthy. It is NOT the end of the world if your birth plan doesn’t work out. What’s important is the health of you and baby. It is selfish to put your birthing “desires” above safety and common sense.

  22. Jennifer D. 10/09/2011 at 3:21 pm

    There are dangers and complications involved with every method of giving birth. Why do you think so many of our ancestors died in child birth? Just because our medicine is more advanced doesn’t mean having babies is not risky. Bottom line here is listen to your body, listen to your doctor, and make a safe decision. I had a vaginal birth with my first and a c section with my second. I felt like I had been hit by a truck with my first and felt like my insides were falling out with #2. I didn’t feel like either way was better than the other. Our second child was a big boy and there was a very real concern that he would get stuck. That was enough for me to say do a c-section.
    The first step of becoming a mother is putting that child’s needs before your own. I think Rachel makes a very good point about being aware that things do not go as planned. Babies have their own agenda’s from the very beginning. 🙂

  23. Drea 10/05/2011 at 2:52 pm

    I’m glad you and your child were safe, but your story does not mean that women shouldn’t be strong about sticking to their birth plans, nor that they shouldn’t have VBACs.

    I could show you a bunch of horror stories attributed to complications from cesarians. Does this mean no one should have a cesarian? No. It just means that complications arise in any situation.

    We need to respect each other’s choices in how we want to have our children. (and not call each other “idiots”… goodness.)

    • Rachael Herrscher 10/05/2011 at 2:56 pm

      It doesn’t mean anyone should change anything about what they’d like their birth to be. I’m simply saying that we all need to get a whole lot more comfortable with “when things go wrong” or they don’t go according to OUR plan. Whatever that plan may be. And if you can take a little tongue in cheek you can see that this story was about ME, and how my obsession with the type of birth that I wanted almost led ME to a catastrophic outcome. That made ME the idiot . . . and has thus provided for a lot of good conversation! 😉

    • B 01/21/2015 at 7:07 pm

      That was her point.

      • B 01/21/2015 at 7:09 pm

        I mean, the girl that wrote the article was just saying that whatever happens, it’s ok.

  24. Andrea 10/05/2011 at 11:11 am

    I don’t get how your doctor recommending a c-section due to poor growth and recommending against induction (as any good VBAC’er knows that’s not a great idea) and inadvertently avoiding a uterine rupture is reason to trumpet not sticking to a birth plan or not having a trial of labor. That’s like saying I had surgery to fix a hernia and in the process they found a malignant tumor, so it’s important to get all hernias fixed asap in case you have cancer, because if you wait you may die. This is just an example of things working out for the best, which is something to be glad about, but not necessarily reason to throw around the word “idiot” about people who might make the decision to wait.

    Meanwhile, I have never heard of anyone who would “stick to a birth plan” and put their baby’s life at risk in the process. I think women who advocate for what they want, ask questions, and demand to understand what doctors are recommending somehow get a bad rap of “caring too much about their birth plan.” But I find it hard to believe that any woman goes through the 9 long, hard months of pregnancy only to get to the end and say, “my birth plan is so important to me that if that mean my baby doesn’t make it, well, too bad.”). Who are these women?

    • Julie 10/10/2011 at 1:15 pm

      Sadly, there ARE some women who care more about the birth plan than the baby. My cousin was pregnant with twins. This was her second pregnancy. She chose to have a midwife (no problem there!) and a home delivery. When she went into labor, things were starting to show problems, but she and the midwife refused to change “THE PLAN.” It ended up that an ambulance was called and she was taken to the small hospital in the area. The babies were delivered by C-section. The boys were rushed to the bigger hospital an hour away, where one died immedietly. The othere had to stay in the hospital for a few weeks. The doctors asked her why she chose to have a home birth with twins. She said that was her birth plan. She was told that had she used her midwife in the hospital both babies would have lived. The death and distress could have been prevented had she been flexible. It was a very hard lesson for her to learn.

    • birthRN 01/23/2015 at 7:02 am

      Unfortunately that exact scenario happened where I work just over a year ago. Not a good outcome. There are those who are so stuck on their plan that they overlook the safety and life of the baby. Having a birth plan itself is not bad, I’m okay with it and support them. But you need to be able to switch gears should something unexpected or emergent occur. Birth is not black and white, and its impossible to “what if” every possible scenario. Healthy mom and healthy baby is the ultimate goal, regardless of how they came out. In the long run, we celebrate the BIRTHday each year of a child, not the way he or she came out.

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  26. Melody Newey 10/04/2011 at 6:57 pm

    Great post. Great conversation. I like what everyone has said here. Especially Erin. “To me, this post isn’t about C-sections versus vaginal birth versus home birth, it is about having an appropriate attachment to your plan. Be flexible and be informed.”

    Here comes a novel. Forgive me if you need to. The short version of what I want to say is this: Forget your birth plan. It won’t matter twenty years from now anyway.

    The long version is this: I’m a Registered Nurse and mother of three grown children who were all delivered via c-section. I’m as natural-birth-loving-and-this-is-women’s-work-so-why-are-men-even-involved as anyone I know. However, I’m also alive-today-and-so-are-my-children because medical science created an option that I had never considered during that first pregnancy over thirty years ago. At least never considered until the whole fetal distress thing came up. Anyway, I’m pretty glad my doctor was willing to cut into me and into that amazing organ that supports life and that can also cause a woman to bleed to death in minutes if anything goes awry. Oh, the uterus! She knows how to bleed and she’ll show you if you give her half a chance. I just don’t buy the profitability argument anymore. My physician was courageous and trusted his judgement and the delivery process. I was courageous and trusted him and the surgical staff.

    Although I initially felt a loss, both emotional and physical about my limited (expanded) option, none of that matters in the least today. None of it. I’m not saying anything you don’t already know. Time heals all wounds and ultimately it doesn’t matter how they get here. What matters is that those babies get here and live.

    Epilogue: When my firstborn began getting her six-year molars her dentist asked me, “Did you have complications during her delivery?” I told him, “Yes, as a matter of fact. She had fetal distress, emergency ceasarean section, the kind where they don’t have time for that nice bikini cut…” He explained, “Her molars are coming in without enamel. These molars are beginning to form near the end of gestation and when I see this I’ve started asking moms about the delivery. . . ” He went on to talk about mild oxygen deprivation in the fetus which causes blood and oxygen to be shunted to vital organs and away from less important structures, like, say, teeth. And how this brief, but significant event alters those teeth permanently.

    My beautiful 29-year-old-mother-of-two daughter has crowns on those molars to this day. She was courageous too.

  27. Diana 10/04/2011 at 6:11 pm

    I had a birthplan too, I was an empowered Hypnobirther who would deliver her baby in a waterbirth. I chose a wonderful midwife and a hospital that was more like a birthing center, just in case, and now I am glad I did.
    Everything was going well until at last minute unforseen complications made us deviate from the plan, and although I was able to deliver vaginally, baby had to go into the NICU while I went into the O.R.
    Yes, I was dissapointed, but I reminded myself that my birthing experience was not about proving I was woman enough to do it naturally, but about bringing my son safely into this world.
    It wasn’t my ideal, but thanks to the availability of modern medicine I am happy to say we are both OK.
    Yes a plan is wonderful, but having flexibility within that plan and understanding what the ultimate goal is seems more important to me.
    I am grateful to have been informed and having a midwife and medical team I trusted wholeheartedly, I knew they would do everything possible to carry out my plan and that if things were to change (and they did) they would act accordingly, not for their convenience but for my and my son’s safety.
    Trusting my doctor/midwife made all the difference in the world to me.

  28. Rynell Lewis 10/04/2011 at 4:49 pm

    I have given birth to 6 babies. Four vaginal births, two c-sections. (My first two were premies and both died. That’s a different sort of story). My last two deliveries were c-sections. The first of the sections was an emergency, as in my baby’s heart rate stopped during a NST, I was wheeled to L&D, given a general and my baby was out less than a minute after incision. His life was saved by an emergency c-section. He needed some time intubated in the NICU to fully recover, but a little more than a week later, he was home–healthy. With my last baby, my doctors and I discussed a VBAC and I considered it. I did not feel forced into any decision. I prayed about it, because it was very important to me. After prayer and consideration, I did not feel comfortable with the VBAC. I told my doctors I felt that we should go ahead with the repeat c-section. In L&D, my doctor was surprised at the sheer/thinness of my uterus and was relieved we weren’t trying to VBAC. I’m thankful for c-sections.

  29. Erin Oltmanns 10/04/2011 at 3:56 pm

    I thank my lucky stars that I have had fantastic and empowering doctor’s for both of my labor and deliveries. I felt like I was being heard, like I had options and that they were looking for the least medically invasive option…right down to forgoing episiotomy. (Did I just over share?)

    But what I ALSO had while I was pregnant, was a friend like Rachael. I heard this story and her advice, which was simply, “Don’t get too attached to some sort of vision of birth so that if you don’t get it, you are devastated.”

    That helped me a lot, because what I wanted was natural childbirth, and so help me, I could not do it. I asked for an epidural to deliver a 9 lb 14 oz baby. That was what was right for me.

    To me, this post isn’t about C-sections versus vaginal birth versus home birth, it is about having an appropriate attachment to your plan.

    Be flexible and be informed.

  30. Hilary 10/04/2011 at 3:29 pm

    I sometimes get chills when a doctor just feels like a woman needs a section, and then we go in and something is seriously wrong. They just knew.

    God loves women and he really loves us at a time where we’re choosing to do what He wants of us. Sometimes doctors know more then we do. Sad, but true. 🙂

  31. Christy 10/04/2011 at 3:17 pm

    Rachael, I’m glad that your doctor had such good instincts. It is truly a miracle and a blessing to have great medical care available to us. I’m also glad you’re willing to tell your story, because other women have experienced the same thing and the Internet is good for nothing if not for people banding together and supporting each other.

    That said, I have personally witnessed doctors and nurses who were not acting in the best interests of their patients, and who did more harm than good. I also know that most births can happen without medical intervention. So my big thing is, do your research. No, really, RESEARCH. A lot of it. Know what’s going on, know the process, know the risks, know the stats. Then choose a care provider you trust who has good records in the areas that are your chief concerns. That way, when things go batshit at the hospital (or in your bathtub), you can hand over the reins to your care provider knowing you’ve made decisions that put you at the least possible amount of risk.

    Also, don’t beat yourself up if things don’t go as planned. We are all just doing the best we can.

  32. Shannon 10/04/2011 at 2:33 pm

    You are hysterical! You’re right sister. And on a different note, I will never be able to jump on a trampoline with glee!

    • Rachael Herrscher 10/04/2011 at 2:47 pm

      lol! I feel bad for you guys that have damp undies . . .;)

      • Shannon 10/05/2011 at 2:06 am

        Dude. They have ruined me!

  33. Carina Wytiaz 10/04/2011 at 2:31 pm

    Alright, so I read this with an open mind.

    I think what it comes down to for me is that too many women are forced for specious reasons into changing their initial birth plan (if they even make them at all, or explore something other than the OB model at all,) and as a consequence their options are limited in the future. The cascade of interventions and fear of malpractice will pillory almost every birth plan.

    The viability of any future birth plans is dependent on what happened with that first birth. The VAST MAJORITY of C-sections in this country are not actually medically necessary. My heart plummets when I hear a woman say that she had to have a c-section with her first baby. First of all, the literal odds are that she did NOT have to have a c-section (although the vast majority of women who have had c-sections were told that it was medically necessary and that she is the exception) and second, her future birth plans are now limited.
    Sadly, most first time mothers are not equipped with the information to make an educated choice or have a fully-informed conversation with her doctor. Nor are they in any position to argue while in labor with a doctor who has the full weight of the establishment behind him and she perceives herself as without power.

    If we can get women away from slice and dice OBs on their first birth into lower intervention care, you will probably see a lot more flexibility, fewer health consequences, and better maternal and baby outcomes for future births.

    • Rachael Herrscher 10/04/2011 at 2:37 pm

      I feel you! Consider though, that on my first, I had a midwife, and we literally tried everything under the sun until the initial choice to go with a c-section, on my 2nd, I had a midwife until we needed to start monitoring her growth at which point I had to move over to a high risk doc.

      So while I agree that it’s not the ideal option right out of the gates, in the long term, if it’s the deal you are stuck with, it’s not that bad of a deal (coming from someone who was trying for the exact opposite). And the mourning that goes with a c-section can really be moved elsewhere. We are so let down because our expectations are so specific in so many instances. And we’ve all hit the panic button so much, that I was begging to avoid a repeat C-section when it would have been the worst thing for me.

      • Carina Wytiaz 10/04/2011 at 2:58 pm

        I feel you, too. Since your case is specific, and I’m speaking in generalities. For example, Jen that posted below had a life-saving c-section, literally, no quibbles on that one.

        Interestingly enough, I just read an article right after my comment that echoes some of what we’ve been talking about. “Will the C-Section Rate Soon Hit 50%?”

        Just a small quote:

        “What’s really troubling, says Queenan, Professor and Chair emeritus at Georgetown University’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, is that almost one-third of c-sections are for women who are having their first child, and that sets up a vicious cycle of future surgeries since vaginal births after cesareans (VBACs) are decreasing — some hospitals won’t even do them.

        It didn’t used to be this way. In the past, c-sections required a prior consultation and full department review. Now, scheduled c-sections are often done at the patient’s request and vaginal delivery of breech babies “is no longer taught in many training programs,” he writes.

        Of course, c-sections are safer now, but they are also more profitable for hospitals than normal, vaginal deliveries, and for doctors, they can be more efficient from a time-management perspective.

        Nevertheless, if the numbers continue upward, Queenan says, “our profession will lose both credibility and the opportunity to determine our direction as third-party payers and the government will become involved.””

        I’m so glad you’re still here and you have all your babies.

        • Shona 10/06/2011 at 10:58 am

          Carina, on what basis are you making the assertion that the “VAST MAJORITY of c-sections” are unnecessary? Understand, I don’t doubt that many are, and I know some of them result from medically unnecessary inductions that go awry. But in the internet-mama community, one comes across thousands of non-medically trained people (like you and I) whose only qualifications to be offering input on someone else’s c-section is that they themselves pushed a baby through their vagina (or wish they had).

          So what is your source? And I don’t mean an article on one doctor’s opinion. I mean, when did you review any official data on the highly-specific circumstances surrounding individual c-sections? What medical studies (not articles on Babble ABOUT medical studies) have you read that support your claim?

          Don’t get me wrong. Though I have never encountered him, I am sure that the misogynistic doctor who drools as he slices women open for a few extra bucks (btw, hospitals charge more for c-sections primarily because it COSTS the hospital more — more anesthesia, more staff, more resources, more hospital space… show me the doctor who’s getting wealthy off of c-sections) and the certainty that he’ll make his golf game exists, and such a character is a menace to women indeed.

          HOWEVER, some women on message boards (and I don’t necessarily mean YOU, because I haven’t encountered you online often enough to know), who villainize the medical community and insist that caring OBs are the one-in-a-million exception rather than the most-of-the-time-but-some-really-bad-apples-definitely-exist rule are, in my opinion, just as much a danger to women as the sinister Dr. Money-Section.

          These are some of the dangerous ideas I see promulgated and unchallenged in so many purportedly mama-friendly online communities:

          1. You should probably mistrust your doctor, if you have one.
          2. If you heed your doctor’s advice it is because you were uninformed.
          3. Hours of Googling constitutes “research”.
          4. If you had a c-section, it was unnecessary, and I don’t care what you say the circumstances were because you were probably lied to (see #1).
          5. In creating a birth plan, the most important thing is sticking to your guns. Anyone who tells you to be flexible about it is trumpeting c-sections as a cure-all that is right for every woman. BEWARE!

          Again, I don’t know if you personally belong in this category of woman I am talking about, bold and unsupported declarations like “the vast majority of c-sections are not medically necessary” would certainly fit in nicely with numbers 1-5 above.

          That is all.

          • Susan 10/10/2011 at 1:43 pm

            LOVE THIS! Perfect response and exactly how I feel. I shake my head so much reading the “advice” on the mama-Internet. You absolutely hit the nail on the head, particularly with items 1-5.

  34. Michelle 10/04/2011 at 12:54 pm

    Thank you Thank you Thank you for this post! I have very similar bith stories. I actually went into labor and pushed for two hours trying for a VBAC with my second and it still ended in a c-section where the uterus was a window! I felt very blessed and know that my baby and I were being watched over when the Spirit told me to opt for a c-section, even though I didn’t want it. My doc then said I would be good to have another baby, but my new docs in a different state say they consider that “window” a uterine rupture and would not recommend a third. We shall see. But THANK YOU for you post (we get a lot of pitty and downward looks as c-section mamas and sometimes I just want to sock-it-to-them!) . And yes, lets jump on the tramp doing back flips without leaking pee!

    • Rachael Herrscher 10/04/2011 at 2:39 pm

      I had a third and my doctor said I’d even be OK to have another one because while I had a window on my 2nd, I had a bigger space between my 2nd and 3rd and my uterus looked great -no window. I think the important things to look at are: space between your kids (they say it doesn’t matter but I totally think it does), how big your babies are, any other complications.

      I’ll meet you on the trampoline! 🙂

      • Cheryl 10/10/2011 at 12:48 pm

        I had 2 more after my doctor saw a “window” through my uterus. I was just fine and am so grateful for those two bonus children!

  35. Rachael Herrscher 10/04/2011 at 12:29 pm

    There’s a pretty interesting conversation going on over on about this post too!

  36. Jen Galan 10/04/2011 at 11:39 am

    As the mother of an emergency CS preemie, I threw every.single.plan out the window. While I grieved for the loss of the birthing experience, I got a son that would not have survived, and my husband got a wife that didn’t have a stroke and die. With this pregnancy I just keep reminding myself “It’s not about HOW the baby gets here, but that he gets here safely.” And if that means another CS, then we schedule it and I get sliced.

    • Rachael Herrscher 10/04/2011 at 2:41 pm


      And the grieving is real and unexpected. On my first c-section I was devastated by it, but now I can honestly see the upside in it and I’m completely ok with the fact that if I had another baby it would be a c-section.

  37. Tara Kamiya 10/04/2011 at 11:24 am

    Very cool post, I agree! Hope people realize that we want healthy babies, not fantasy births! I was able to have an unmedicated home birth, but even I had to give up on the “birthing in the pool” thing because My Baby’s heart rate was going up. Here is my story:

    • Rachael Herrscher 10/04/2011 at 2:46 pm

      great post! P.S. If you try that route again, I thought sitting on an exercise ball during labor practically took the pain away – it was awesome! I had an 18 hour labor on my first until we opted for a c-section.

  38. belladune 10/04/2011 at 10:42 am

    I love this article! Having stuck to my birth plan with # 1, which left me in a state of euphoria (as Vaginal labour does) but left my first baby hanging on for dear life with a whopping score of 1 on the apgar chart, I totally get this. I tried for a second vag birth but realized I didn’t want to repeat that, so before it got terrible, we went in for an emerg c section. Doc was right saying I should have section. Go figure. #3 comes along and it was elective section all the way. My boys had hard times at the beginning, but if I could stop my girly from it, I would. Docs do see way more then we could imagine, and often enough they don’t want the paycheck, they want us and our babes healthy. I mean, that’s why they went into medicine in the first place 🙂

  39. Joanna {Baby Gators Den} 10/04/2011 at 10:36 am

    Thank you for this post!! I’m going in for my second c-section next week and I’m still thankful every day for my first, emergency c-section that saved my son’s & my life.

  40. Helen Bisesi 10/04/2011 at 10:10 am

    I had a C-section for my 1st child and actually wanted a C-section for the 2nd but the insurance wouldn’t pay. So a week before I was due, my doctor said my fluid was low and to go to the hospital to be induced. Several hours later, I was feeling really uncomfortable, even though I had the epidural. Well, my uterus did rupture but fortunately they wheeled me right into surgery and got my daughter out. She wasn’t breathing on her own for a bit, but she is a healthy 12 year old now.

    I am so glad for you that you had the C-section to begin with–it was so scary!

  41. Laura 10/04/2011 at 8:08 am

    OH and I love your last paragraph. Made me almost pee my vaginal delivery pants.

  42. Laura 10/04/2011 at 8:07 am

    Great post Rachel. Being a doctors wife I have to echo that sometimes we do need to let them be our guide. I think a lot of people hate the medical profession. Think they are a bunch of know it all people who just love their huge paycheck. I think most doctors are just looking out for the well being of their patient. I never had a birth plan. I am glad that with each one I just went with the flow. Maybe if I had a birth plan, my husband would not have been able to be the one to deliver my last baby. My favorite birth by far. It was so wonderful that he was the one to guide me and touch my baby for the first time. Special moment in my life and nothing I ever planned or knew I wanted until it happened.