Birth plans: Helpful or unrealistic?

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I have a friend who is born to give birth. People have called her "strong," "amazing," "a great mother" after each of her labors for her ability to have natural childbirths with much more than a whimper. I can only wonder what they say about me. My labors were loud, messy, and that was with an epidural. Does that mean I'm not strong, amazing, or a good mother? Of course not.

I didn't go into either of my labor with expectations of anything, beyond having a healthy labor and baby. I had hoped I wouldn't need an epidural, but I did. I had hoped I wouldn't need to be induced, but I did. I had hoped I could stay calm and in control throughout the entire process, but I didn't. All of that meant nothing once I held my babies.

Many women go into labor with a birth plan firmly in their mind. Maybe they want a natural childbirth, limited interventions, or maybe they know that they want an epidural up front and expect to be free from pain. According to this article from WebMD, however, these high expectations can often lead to disappointment and feelings of failure when things don't go as planned.

Ideally, I think there needs to be balance. We, as women, should be allowed to prepare for the kind of labor that we want, and we should have practitioners supporting us in those decisions. But we should also be aware that things can go wrong, that plans can change, and be able educate ourselves in the options that exist for us. There are enough strong emotions involved with labor, delivery, and new motherhood, we should be able to set guilt aside. What do you think?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.