A Change in Birth Plans

by Rachael on January 23, 2012

34w1d: Belly so big my face doesn't even fit in the picture

Until the beginning of this month, we were planning for an uneventful labor and delivery at the birthing center a couple miles down the street from our home. My birth plan was more or less just to sit or squat in the tub, focus on my breath, have the baby, and then come back home — just as it happened with the Critter.

And then I got the call from one of the midwives at the birthing center, telling me that the fetal hydronephrosis that we’ve been tracking since the 20-week ultrasound had gotten much worse on one side and that the doctor at the clinic where I’ve been having the ultrasounds wanted a second opinion from Columbia-Presbyterian. Also, said the midwife, I might risk out of giving birth at the birthing center.

On the very day that I got that call, I had posted a short piece about the word I had chosen to guide me through this year: give. In the days since, I’ve been learning an important lesson: Sometimes, in order to give, you have to ask for help.

I’m grateful for all the help I’ve gotten from family and friends in the past few weeks. They’ve helped me weather the emotional turbulence in the days (almost two weeks!) leading up to the second opinion, as well as in practical ways. One friend gave me lots of information that helped me prepare for the dreaded appointments at the hospital. My dad and stepmother took the day off work and came down to the city to accompany me to the hospital last Tuesday. And my husband has rearranged his schedule so that I can keep my various appointments, keep up with my work (sort of), and get some extra rest. All of this help (and more) has enabled me to give myself fully to taking care of the Gnome.

As it turns out, the prognosis for the Gnome is excellent. In the meantime, we’re preparing for a possibly more medicalized birth than we had originally anticipated, including (probably — I’ll know for certain later today) giving birth at Maimonides rather than at the birthing center. I have no reason to expect that the labor and delivery itself will require any interventions beyond the change in location, but still — I have a deep-seated dread of hospitals. Knowing what I know about Sphincter Law (“if someone is afraid …  the sphincter [in this case, the cervix] can slam shut”), I’ve been working hard to face this fear — so that I can let it go.

In facing my fear, I’ve turned toward birth stories, the kind that Ina May Gaskin has found empower pregnant and laboring women. My sister and many of my good friends have shared their stories of positive hospital births, as have many of my fellow Natural Parents Network volunteers. And so today, I give you links! Positive hospital birth stories galore!

Do you have a positive hospital birth story to share? Please, please do share the link in the comments! And thank you!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Avital January 23, 2012 at 8:00 AM

While location certainly helps in terms of making us feel comfortable and relaxed…its just that, a location. *you* are still the same woman giving birth. Remind yourself of that. Continuously remind yourself that *you* are the one in charge of your body and birth. YOU can do this!!

Also – try to take as much control of the situation as possible, given the circumstances. Don’t be shy – if you have to birth in a hospital, ask what you’re allowed to do. Can you dim/lower the lights in your birthing room (even just taking away the harsh glare can help). Can you bring a tapestry or sheet to hang on the wall, or a favorite picture/visual object to focus on. Can you bring music? Is there an en suite bathroom where you can labor in the shower if you’d like? Ask what their policies are regarding being hooked up to things, and make your preferences known ahead of time.

Oh, and bring your own pillow, blanket, slippers, robe, etc… anything to make it feel more homey. Feel free to email me if you want to talk more, see my birth plan (that was hospital “friendly”), etc…

You totally are going to rock this birth!! (and you look fab!…well, your belly does 😉 )


Amy Phoenix January 23, 2012 at 9:42 AM

Thank you for reaching out! The fact that you are informed, know what you want, and are willing to communicate it will help you enjoy your birth – where ever you are. I still look back to my hospital births with gratitude and would be grateful to have one again if the need arises. Blessings to you and yours.


Kristin @ Intrepid Murmurings January 23, 2012 at 11:01 AM

Aw, sorry to hear your plans are having to be changed. I know how hard that is!

With my second pregnancy I researched and researched, chose a midwife practice that delivered at a hospital I really wanted to go to, and then I found out I was having twins and they no longer would have me. I was so bummed! I ended up back at the big hospital I had birthed my first daughter, which took some soul searching and getting used to, though eventually I was okay with it. Having a solid birth plan in place (for my guidance more than anything) and a doula helped me a lot. My birth went really really well — not 100% natural (which I was okay with going in), but pretty close and similar to what I’d hoped for.

Not the same as a singleton birth, of course, if I ever have another I am hoping for way more simplicity!

Here it is if you are interested: http://www.intrepidmurmurings.com/2009/05/birth_story/


Lauren @ Hobo Mama January 23, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Sorry for the change in plans, but glad that you’re thinking it through and doing what you can to prepare. I’ve heard enough positive hospital birth stories myself to know it’s definitely possible. I think one thing that will help me if I ever end up giving birth in a hospital again is to remember that I’m not just a patient but a client, so I have more power and control than I (have been trained to) think.

I’m really glad the prognosis is so good, and I anticipate a happy, healthy birth! You know what you want, and you’ll do great.


chepkirui January 23, 2012 at 8:09 PM


I’ve not commented before on your blog. But I share your belief in the power of birthing stories and wanted to offer you a short version of mine. My story is not online, but it did involve a hospital birth even though my strong preference was for a birthing center (or even my own home). Because I have a thyroid disorder, no birthing center would have me. With the help of a magnificent doula and doctors who I trusted, I ended up being able to sit in a tub, focus on my breath, and give birth to my daughter with no interventions or medication. I’m incredibly grateful to have had the birth we had; and it all happened in a hospital here in NYC. It sounds as if you’re getting lots of support, but do feel free to email me directly. And, thank you for your writing; it is comforting, centering, and inspiring for this fellow mother/worker/writer/meditater.


Melissa January 24, 2012 at 12:34 AM

I can only imagine the disappointment over the change in plans, but it sounds like you have the best possible attitude about the new plan and I’m sure that and all of the preparation will serve you well. There’s one birth story in Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth that is referred to as a “home birth in the hospital” and I loved that. It’s just a reminder that no matter where you are, it’s still your birth and you can both set the tone and call the shots. I’m really looking forward to reading your positive hospital birth story!

The issue of your dread of hospitals gives me an idea … look for an email from me, K?


6512 and growing January 24, 2012 at 11:28 AM

Though the hospital can have a lot of distractions, I wholeheartedly believe you can have a beautiful, powerful birth wherever you are.

I birthed Rose at a small hospital and I just made it “my” birth. I had a doula, was naked from moment one, in and out of the tub, “no thanks” to whatever I didn’t want, and of course, Dan right by my side.

So cool that you have so much help and support. I love that.


Christine January 24, 2012 at 1:00 PM

Exactly right, Rachael. Focus on the positive and embrace the change. Giving birth in hospital doesn’t mean all that other shit is inevitable. Not even close.

Maybe sometimes “give” means to “give over.”

Keep that sphincter open.

Also? Your belly looks beautiful. I’m sure your face does, too.


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

Previous post:

Next post: