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Is “Birth Plan” an Oxymoron?

As my pregnancy has progressed and I’ve done more reading on the subject of childbirth, my feelings on the actual labor and delivery process, and the options available, have changed.

I had a random DVT -- the scary kind of blood clot -- in my leg in college; I am young and active, and don’t have a predisposition that showed up on later tests, so the doctors determined it was caused by birth control pills. Since the hormones in pregnancy pump the same hormones as birth control into the system, by the truckload, I am on blood thinners for the duration of the pregnancy. And, I am not going to be allowed to go past my due date. Since about 75% of first-time pregnancies do go past the due date, that means it’s very likely I’ll be medically induced.

This all sounded fine and good when it was first explained to me. But then I did some research on Pitocin, the drug most commonly used for inductions. It significantly worsens contractions (imagine!), and so most frequently leads to an epidural. And as tempting as a pain-free (or pain-managed) labor sounded at the start, research on that topic of course has led me to think twice about the epidural. Do I really want to be immobilized, what with a blood clot history? Plus, epidurals can slow the baby’s readiness to eat upon delivery, and are, in general, not fool-proof. What if it didn’t work and I was already rocking the Pitocin? OUCH.

What I’ve learned about interventions of any kind, in general, is that they have a domino affect. One intervention generally leads to another. And while they definitely have their place (“intervention” is the key word here -- sometimes you’ve just gotta get the baby out), there are drawbacks to all of them. If they’re not absolutely necessary, at this point I’d prefer to avoid them.

I know a number of people who’ve planned all-natural, at-home births and ended up getting c-sections 24 hours in or some such...I also know people who’ve had completely successful all natural births, at home and in hospitals, and people who’ve had epidurals and c-sections and all of it, also successfully. Bottom line is that the baby gets born and everyone’s okay.

I guess I feel like it’s sort of an unpredictable sport, this child-birthing thing, and that clinging too fast to one preference or another can just lead to stress in the crucial moments of delivery. I’m ready to go with the flow. I’m going to get acupuncture for a couple of weeks leading up to my due date, as a gentle effort to beat out medical induction and the aforementioned domino affect. But if I end up on the pitocin / epidural / etc. track, I’ll roll with it.

Is “birth plan” an oxymoron? Did you make one? How’d it go? Bring on the birth stories, people!

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