Why it’s OK to grieve if your birth plan goes out the window

Pregnancy is a really messy time emotionally. One minute you’re fine, the next you’re crying at something ridiculous. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that you get upset when the big things go off track. Yet when it comes to birth plans the message is clear – be flexible. Make preferences not a plan. Things change.

The thing is, when things do change it’s not a weakness or a failing to get upset about it. It’s natural to want to make plans about birth – it’s a big deal, for many it’s slightly scary and making a plan helps us feel in control and not completely overwhelmed.  Yet we’re made to feel that we can’t give ourselves permission to be upset about it.

I’ve written several posts about my birth experience and finding out my baby was breech. At the start of my pregnancy I was adamant I wouldn’t be having a cesarean section. Even though I knew not to be too set in my plans and that during birth things can change quickly I never imagined I’d end up in theatre.  I remember going through what a caesarean involved during our NCT classes and quietly thinking “that won’t be me”.  How wrong I was.

When I found out that R was breech I was devastated.  I cried in the car home from the hospital. I cried for most of the next day.  The logical part of my brain knew that a c-section was safe.  I wasn’t worried about going to theatre or having a scar.  The thing that upset me the most was knowing I wouldn’t get to experience a vaginal birth.  The birth that I had planned.Everyone I spoke to tried to make me feel better by telling me how positive a c-section could be.  And I knew they were right.  But I still wanted to scream.  I was so full of feelings of loss of what I wouldn’t experience but I couldn’t explain that to anyone because I felt like I wasn’t supposed to feel that way.  That I was being silly and over-emotional.

But I wasn’t being silly.  It’s perfectly natural to have feelings of grief and loss when your birth doesn’t go to plan.  You’re not alone.  You haven’t failed because you feel this way.  Yes we should be open to changes in our birth plan – the objective is to have a safe birth for mother and baby, however that works out.  But that doesn’t mean that the way you feel about those changes aren’t valid.  This isn’t a stiff upper lip scenario.

So if you’re reading this and your birth didn’t go as you’d planned or if you’re still awaiting your little one but have found out things need to change, remember – the way you feel right now is nothing to be ashamed of.  And in time it gets better.

Published by Rebecca

Photographer, explorer, travel and lifestyle blogger

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