When I was pregnant with Henry, I wrote a lot about my plans for a drug-free birth. Some people said to me, “You can’t plan birth!  What’s going to happen is going to happen!”  That’s true.  You can’t really plan birth.  But I do think that preparation can really pay off, especially if you’re  hoping for a birth with minimal interventions. 


A side note:  Other people said to me, “The birth experience doesn’t matter!  All that matters is a healthy baby!”  I don’t think this is entirely true.  Of course, the number one priority is a healthy baby and healthy mom.  But the birth experience matters, too.  It’s a huge life moment and a major medical event.  Is it everything?  No, definitely not.  But I believe that it does matter to many women – and it’s okay to feel like it matters.


So yes – you can’t totally plan a birth.  And you can’t predict many parts of labor.  But it was very helpful for me – emotionally and logistically – to study the Bradley Method of childbirth and write a birth plan before I delivered my first child.  It really helped me understand what would happen in my ideal birth scenario, what would happen if things didn’t go to ‘plan,’ and helped me generally prepare emotionally for childbirth.  Stress and fear of the unknown can truly stall or undo labor, so it’s great if you can stay as calm as possible.  I think ALL moms could benefit from writing out a birth plan – it’s not just for those wanting to go drug-free!


Our Original Birth Plan


Practically speaking, we kept our birth plan as short as possible and used bullets to make it easy to read.  I think this is really important – I’ve seen plans online that are three to four pages long.  That’s too long for someone else to quickly read and digest.


When I was preparing to write this post, I asked the Husband about how sharing the birth plan with the nurses went down (my midwife already had a copy).  I had no recollection of this part of birth – making sure the nurses read the plan was my Husband’s job.  He said that he made sure he was very polite as he gave a copy to each nurse that entered the room.  He waited for the nurse to look over it and then asked if they had any questions.  He says one of the nurses also taped a copy to the door of the room.


Per Bradley Method teaching, Kristien also reminded the midwife and nurses of our wishes at key moments.  For example, it’s standard procedure at our hospital to clamp the umbilical cord pretty quickly, but we wanted to do delayed clamping.  He said that he reminded them of this right as Henry was being born. 


What We’ll Keep and Change This Time Around


KEEP – Just like before, at the top of the plan will be a BIG REMINDER – We do NOT know the sex of the baby!  Kristien would like to announce the sex to Caitlin.  Please do not spoil the surprise!  <— This was AMAZING!


CHANGE – Overall, the new plan will be shorter.  We put a few post-birth items on the plan that the hospital staff needed our written permission to do/not do – these line items were unnecessary and just made the plan longer. 


KEEP – A blurb about how we want a medication-free labor and how I would prefer not to be offered drugs no matter how I’m acting emotionally.  We’ll also keep the bit about how, if the staff believes interventions are necessary, it should be discussed with my husband first – not with me. 


CHANGE – We had a line about not wanting the pushing directed by counting or yelling.  Also another line about keeping the lights dim.  Honestly, in hindsight, these requests were kind of ridiculous/a first-time-mommy kind of thing.  And I mean that in the nicest way possible to my former self!  Hah.  The reality is that I didn’t give a shit that my midwife counted out loud during my contractions and hell if I noticed the lights were on or off.  The bottom line is that if someone/something was hindering my performance, I could’ve just said something in the moment – it didn’t really need to go on the plan. 


KEEP – We’ll also keep our wishes that are NOT standard operating procedure for the hospital, such as the information about not clamping or cutting the cord immediately.


KEEP – The blurb about not giving the baby a bath immediately and not removing the baby from me for immediate testing (barring medical issues, of course).  Henry didn’t get weighed or measured for at least an hour after birth, and he didn’t get a bath for much longer.  I wanted to do skin-to-skin as long as possible; my hospital supports skin-to-skin but I’m pretty sure that it’s standard to do the testing off mom and pretty quickly.


KEEP – The blurb about not throwing away my placenta because I plan to encapsulate it again.


CHANGE – When I originally wrote the plan, my midwife looked it over and we discussed it.  But I should’ve had her cross out stuff that she wouldn’t do anyway / the hospital wouldn’t do unless there was a major medical need.  For example, I wrote that I didn’t want an episiotomy.  They don’t do them regularly/preemptively at my hospital anymore, so that was redundant.  Side note – I ended up getting one, but I needed one.


In Conclusion…


If you want to write a birth plan, here are some things that I think you should consider, based on my first birthing experience:


1) Who is going to ensure that medical staff actually read the plan?  How many copies should you bring to the hospital?


2) What can you cut from your plan to make it as short and easy to read as possible? Ask your doctor or midwife to look it over.


3) Did you say THANK YOU at the top of the plan?  Because you should!  I cannot say enough great things about birthing staff – they work SO hard and for SO long.  One of my nurses even stayed HOURS over her shift to help me get through the end… amazing!


4) Have you talked to your doctor/midwife/childbirth educator about the pros and cons of potential interventions?  I think it’s helpful to educate yourself and your birth partner in advance so you can better understand medical advice.  I really believe in finding medical professionals you trust and respect, but it’s helpful to be a knowledgeable (but not a know-it-all!) patient, too.


5) If you’re aiming for a drug-free birth, consider whether or not you want to be brought into discussions about (non-emergency) interventions immediately or not.  Do you want to designate yourself as the ‘point person’ or do you want to put that responsibility in someone else’s hands (at least initially)?  Or do you want be that person?  Personally, I wanted my husband to run interference/make basic decisions so I could keep my head in the game as long as possible.


So – those are my thoughts on having a birth plan!  Like I said, I think birth plans get a bad rap, but as long as you go into the experience knowing that it’s really just part of preparing for birth and a general guide for medical staff in your ideal birth scenario, writing a plan can be a great thing.  


Did you write a birth plan? What advice do you have for other moms who want to write one?


For more:

Henry’s Birth Story

My review of the Bradley Method (pre-birth and post-birth)



  • Erica { EricaDHouse.com } August 21, 2014, 10:15 am

    I’m lecturing on prenatal development and birth next week in class so I may use this as an example of a birthing plan! Most of my students are fairly young (first year college) so they don’t even know that birthing plans exist. Always love to see their faces when I talk about eating the placenta 🙂

    • Caitlin August 21, 2014, 10:24 am


  • Leah August 21, 2014, 10:16 am

    This was really helpful to read. I am 38 weeks pregnant with our first child, who is still stubbornly breech, so I am doing every natural thing I can to gently insist on a turn, but I am also trying to prepare myself for the possibility that I very well may wind up with a C-section (my baby has been in a complete breech position for weeks), which was *so* not in my plan. I know in my heart that that may be the healthiest and safest way to deliver, but I liked what you said about the birth experience mattering too. I have never been insistent on a specific type of birth, but it caught me off guard how sad it makes me to think that I may never get to even attempt natural birthing on my own. I think its important to remember that even within my “worst-case” scenario though (C-section), there are things one can ask for and do to make it as calm and family friendly as possible.

    • Caitlin August 21, 2014, 10:24 am

      Have you read about “gentle” c-sections? I know not all hospitals do it but it sounds way, way nicer for the moms. Does your doctor ever do vaginal deliveries for breech births? I read recently some new research about breech vaginal births – couldn’t find the exact article but here’s some info from ACOG: http://www.acog.org/Resources-And-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Obstetric-Practice/Mode-of-Term-Singleton-Breech-Delivery

      • Leah August 21, 2014, 10:53 am

        Yeah, I guess there was a name for what I was talking about! Gentle Ceserean. They actually referenced this in our birth class, (yay!) so at my next appt if baby hasn’t flipped I am going to start talking through some choices with my doctor. Our hospital does not perform breech vaginal deliveries at all, and it really is our only choice for location (rural)/insurance reasons. To be honest, I am not sure at this point I would want to attempt it being a first-time mother with a baby in complete breech, since, from what I have read, this is the hardest kind to deliver. I guess I will focus on creating the best birthing experience I can with the thing that are in my control. Great post!

        • Caitlin August 21, 2014, 11:25 am

          Yeah, it would kind of freak me out too. But my Bradley teacher had us watch a twin home birth video where one was breech so that May color my perception… LOL the mom was fine though! It just looked so different than whAt I expected it to. Feet first is craaaazy! Good luck. Let me know how it goes. <3

          • Maria August 21, 2014, 9:17 pm

            You may have already tried this, but have you read up on external versions at all? I had one at 37 weeks with my daughter when nothing else had managed to turn her head down. The whole thing was quick, easy, and not really all that painful. While sometimes they don’t work, and sometimes the baby flips back again, it is really a great option and one all moms with breach babies should look into!

      • Megan August 22, 2014, 3:35 pm

        She would be hard-pressed to find an Obgyn who would attempt this with a first time mom. There is probably only one doc I work with that would be ok with this, if the mom has had many vaginal deliveries before. Most ob’s are not even trained on breech vaginal deliveries anymore.

        Also, you would not be “doomed” to all cesearean deliveries- you would be a great vbac candidate! That all being said- I hope your baby flips to vertex! Discuss havin an external cephalic version with your dr as well!

        • Leah August 29, 2014, 9:34 am

          I actually did have ECV done on 2 separate occasions by 2 different doctors. From what I have read, it seemed there as about a 50/50 shot of it working, and I felt like the benefit of trying outweighed the risks, especially since I completely trusted my doctor. It was painful, but I’m glad I tried, otherwise I would have always been wondering what if. Neither was successful in my case. Little one’s feet are already engaged in my pelvis and just really, really stuck! I am now scheduled for a C-section next Tuesday with a doctor I love, who has already encouraged me so much by telling me that going this route (planning it vs. going into natural labor/trauma/emergency C) means I am a great candidate for VBAC next time. Also, I found some great C-section birth plans online and I feel confident that this is the safest way for us to welcome our baby. Can’t wait! Thanks for all the advice and thoughts!

  • Sarah August 21, 2014, 10:18 am

    This is great, thank you for sharing this! I had a birth plan written out for my first and all of the nurses read through it and kept with it as much as possible even though I ended up with an induction. I made some choices that went off what I had “planned” and I do regret some of that now but it was the choice I made in the moment, I was not pressured (however, I think having them talk to your husband first is a great idea). Also agree that the birth experience is very important, even though my baby was okay and so was I for the most part, it was still kind of traumatic and made it even harder to adjust to new mommyhood for a while. But thankfully, what I learned from my first experience, I can change or remember for the next time (now that I’m sure I want there to be a next time, haha).

  • Heather August 21, 2014, 10:42 am

    I did not have a written birth plan with either of my deliveries. I don’t have a fear of the unknown nor did I have a specific idea of what my deliveries needed to be like in order for me to feel like I had a good experience. I also don’t have an innate need to feel in control of birthing. I am very laid back, but have no problem voicing my desires in the moment. My OB with the first and midwife with the second discussed my positioning on different aspects of birth beforehand and my husband as well as sister knew my wishes. I didn’t find it necessary to have anything in writing. In my experience I was always asked before anything was done and I am not a “the room must be silent, no one can speak to me, I can’t think” type of person while in labor. I was induced with my first because of BP concerns and I opted for drug free with my second.
    I think birth plans are great for those that want or feel they need them though.

  • Samantha D August 21, 2014, 10:47 am

    I have a friend who’s a labor and delivery nurse and her facebook feed is constantly jokes making fun of women with birthplans and is generally negative about women who are asking to have a certain type of experience. It’s sad that for a lot of people there is an adversarial relationship between the medical staff/nurses/doctors and the mothers. I think it’s great that you make sure to thank them and hopefully overcome some of that.

    • Caitlin August 21, 2014, 11:26 am

      I do agree. I think many moms and dads who want to go drug free think the hospital will fight them on it, but that’s not always true and I think it’s getting even more untrue as time goes on.

  • Lauren @ La Dolce Pita August 21, 2014, 11:21 am

    This was so helpful! Thank you! I’m excepting (my first baby) this December too and I didn’t know how to approach making a birthing plan, so I really appreciate this post & will use a lot of your advice when mapping out what I want/don’t want! 🙂

  • Olivia August 21, 2014, 11:21 am

    I respect your approach to the birth plan SO much — and kudos to you for empowering mother’s everywhere. I have to laugh though because my approach to childbirth was such the extreme opposite! When I was pregnant the first time I was TERRIFIED of the birthing process. So much so that I refused to think about it. Yup, not once in the entire 9 months of pregnancy did I give a single thought as to what would happen when the baby came. So as you might expect, in the hospital when the doctor told me it was time to push, I had a good solid 5 minute panic attack. But you know what? That was my coping mechanism — and I wouldn’t change a thing. I personally (and to each their own!) would rather freak out for 5 minutes that have stressed myself our for 9 months. Haha. This time I’m not scared at all (my second baby is due in March). Best of luck with delivery Baby #2 just the way you hope to. 🙂

    • Caitlin August 21, 2014, 11:23 am

      Haha oh no! I have a few friends like this – they are like, “I don’t want to know what’s happening at all!!!” LOL I guess different approaches work for different people. I’m glad you aren’t scared for number two!!

    • Tricia August 21, 2014, 1:30 pm

      Haha this was exactly how I felt! I didn’t even know how to breathe through contractions! And I wouldn’t change a thing lol

  • Britt@MyOwnBalance August 21, 2014, 11:43 am

    Great post! I am contemplating what I want to put in my birth plan. I definitely want my husband to run interference though!

  • Laura Ann August 21, 2014, 11:55 am

    Great information here. However, I’m trying to picture how it would go having the medical team discuss emergency interventions with your partner first so that you can “keep your head in the game.” Having just went through a bunch of emergency interventions for preeclampsia, there were many discussion of interventions and I can’t imagine having them ask my husband step away to talk with them, while I stayed and labored. For me, that would be much worse as my mind would more easily go into panic mode, imagining the worse case scenario.

    • Caitlin August 21, 2014, 12:04 pm

      No, I wanted them to discuss NON emergency interventions away from me (as in, “she’s not dilating as we would want her to, maybe we should think about Pitocin in 30 minutes or so?” V. “She needs a c-section right now.”

  • Robin August 21, 2014, 12:28 pm

    Great post! I am expecting my third (singleton after twins). Though I was able to have a vaginal delivery with my twins, I was truly surprised how much pressure I got during labor (with no present complications) to have a c-section (my supportive dr was not on that night). I was so glad that I had a birth plan prior to delivery and had discussed at length different scenarios with both my doctor and husband. These conversation gave us the courage to stick to our guns and push to have my doctor called in (who was very upset with the staff for pushing an unnecessary c-section). Bottom line: The people that really need to know your birth plan is your doctor and husband. Make sure you DISCUSS it with them, don’t just hand it over to them and have it filed away. If they are on board, your chances of it being adheared to increase ten fold.

  • Janine August 21, 2014, 12:49 pm

    Love this and LOVE that you say the birth matters.. it kind of bothers me when women tell each other (especially new moms) that it doesn’t. I HAD to have a c-section due to a birth defect I was born with, but because of that, I had a pretty detailed plan myself to ensure lots of skin to skin, etc, only local numbing, etc.. even though I had what most people would deem, the most invasive birth option, I was SO happy to have a plan and I felt a lot better about the whole process.

  • Laura @ SheEatsWell August 21, 2014, 1:09 pm

    Not pregnant but find these posts fascinating and I cannot wait to refer back to them one day when I am pregnant. I, too, am fascinated by the whole eating the placenta thing!

  • Catherine @ foodiecology August 21, 2014, 1:38 pm

    This post is SO HELPFUL!! I’m 32 weeks and contemplating my own plan right now. These are such great tips, and before I type my plan, I plan to ask my doctor (this afternoon) about the hospital’s and her views, willingness to listen to the mother to be, etc.
    One question: was it really expensive to have your placenta encapsulated? I’m not dead set on it, but because of the benefits, I am still considering it.

    • Caitlin August 21, 2014, 3:34 pm

      I think it was around $250?

  • Alyssa August 21, 2014, 1:52 pm

    I’m due next month and a proud childbirth class graduate as of this week. I’m definitely the opposite end of the spectrum as my birth plan is healthy baby with a side of epidural if possible. I trust my OB and just plan to go along for the ride. Now the part about taking the kid home and raising him…that is the scary part for me.

    • Caitlin August 21, 2014, 3:34 pm

      Hahah, true true. It’s kind of like the wedding v. the marriage – right? The wedding is just one day (hopefully birth is one day too!!!).

      You’ll do great once your little one comes home <3 It's so incredible to become a parent. Congrats on your pregnancy and I hope you get exactly the birth you're hoping for!

  • Laura August 21, 2014, 1:55 pm

    I find the whole ‘drug free’ approach rather worrying. It seems competitive. You wouldn’t have a tooth extracted without anaesthetic. You wouldn’t have an appendix removed without anaesthetic. Why on earth, when women who are pregnant face so many pressures already, do we need to start worrying about whether we should go drug free. Does it make us a better person if we are in absolute agony during a birth or if we are instead making use of an epidural? If you were going into hospital to have an operation, you wouldn’t say, ‘I’m going to do it without anaesthetic.’
    I also find the whole ‘Birth Plan’ idea strange – though maybe this is because I am British and if I presented one to an NHS nurse they would ignore it (and probably find it insulting: surely they and the doctor know what’s best during a delivery? Didn’t they go to college and medical school to find that out?!).
    If I were to write a birth plan, it would say this:
    Give birth to a healthy baby.

    • Caitlin August 21, 2014, 3:32 pm

      I don’t think it’s a big deal if other moms want to birth differently; there are a million ways that parents parent differently from one another. For me, a drug-free birth certainly has nothing to do with being competitive. I definitely did not say anything about how you’re a “better person” for not getting medication during labor; you’re putting words in my mouth and perhaps projecting your experiences with other people on my blog post.

      There are potential complications that can arise from getting pain medication such as an epidural. These complications aren’t common, but they do exist (for both the mom and the baby). While getting an epidural doesn’t make you more likely to need a c-section, it may lengthen the second stage of labor and may make other medical interventions (like the use of forceps) more likely. There are risks associated with all interventions. I do think epidurals are generally safe and not “The Devil” or anything, but for me, I’d rather not cross that bridge at all.

      I don’t take a lot of medication in my normal life and see no reason why birth should be different. I did not and do not want to interfere with my body’s natural process unless I have to. I also believe that we often screw with the process too much, pushing the body to move along in a linear fashion or pumping the body full of medication and drugs that can can stress and stall the process. Obviously, there are many circumstances where this is NOT true and intervention is highly necessary. That’s why I chose to deliver in a hospital, to cover all my bases.

      England is very different than America – you usually have nurses or midwives delivering babies, right? You also have different drug options than we do (such as gas – we don’t have that choice here). We also have a higher percentage of c-section births – I think it’s around 5 – 10% higher. Many women in America have their babies delivered by OB-GYNs, who are most familiar with medical births – they are trained surgeons, not midwives. If you want to have a drug-free birth, you may find that you are in the minority of experiences for the OB-GYN. OB-GYNs are awesome and really know their stuff, but they are most educated in medical births, not drug-free ones. One OB-GYN told me that her training on drug-free births included a one-day crash course during her rotation in the hospital! (I don’t want to generalize TOO much because I know there are OB-GYNs who are much, much more educated on natural birth.) But because of this reality, many women in America choose bring doulas into the delivery room to assist them with the more “bedside” parts of labor because that’s just not an OB-GYN’s job.

      I hope that explains my position a little more! Thanks for your comment. <3

      • Michelle August 22, 2014, 9:37 am

        Just want to point out, that perhaps your hospital or doctor does not have the option of gas, but it is actually gaining in popularity in other parts of the United States. There was an extensive article recently about the benefits of gas (as another option if the mother did not want an epidural) and I’ve had several friends recently discuss this as an option with their OBGYN as they prepare to give birth in NH and MA.

        • Caitlin August 22, 2014, 10:05 am

          I read that article too! Would be cool if there were more options.

    • Lori August 21, 2014, 4:02 pm

      I think Caitlin gave an excellent reply below. There are many personal reasons to want a drug free birth. I’ve heard so much of this “competitive” idea lately and it irritates me. It seems like it’s only people who haven’t had a drug free birth who think this. For me, I just want to give birth the way I know our bodies can (in most cases), the way I feel nature intended. And I don’t think it should be compared to getting teeth pulled or anything else. Some things are “medical procedures”. Giving birth doesn’t have to be. It’s totally doable (in most cases) and I just wanted to experience it. I did it once and I hope to do it again, any day now, as my due date was yesterday.

      • Caitlin August 21, 2014, 4:07 pm

        GOOD LUCK! I hope you go into labor… right now. 🙂

    • Mish @ Eatingjourney August 21, 2014, 6:29 pm

      Every doctor is different. Just because they trained does NOT mean that they are with the current trends (ie water birthing isn’t allowed at some hospitals here, and it is in others. Delayed cord clamping, etc) I think what it comes down to is an open and honest discussion about what your hopes are for a birth with your doctor. I can tell you that I sought out a midwifery practice with continuity of care and a doctor who supported it. Not everyone wants that. That’s the beauty of birth. You can go as natural or as intervention heavy as you want. You can free-birth in a waterfall (Seen the youtube video) or book in for a csection and get a tummy tuck at the same time. It’s about knowing your options and having an open and honest discussion with your providers. OR you can rock up on the day and just go with it.

      • Caitlin August 21, 2014, 8:31 pm

        Hahah WAIT – I can give birth in a waterfall!??!

        *cancels hospital appointment*

    • Skipper August 22, 2014, 11:18 am

      My sister was an OB nurse for about ten years. She said that a lot of birth plans were basically just entertainment for the nurses station. They are at work for 12 hours, monitoring 3 or so women in labor with very few breaks just trying to make sure everyone is healthy and alive. They don’t have time to make sure that everyone in the room is silent until your husband announces the sex or that the lights are dim enough for your taste. They want you to be as comfortable as possible but it’s not a spa where they have time to take pains to read three pages of requirements.

      • Caitlin August 22, 2014, 11:27 am

        It makes me sad that medical professionals would make fun of patients behind their back. 🙁 but I do understand what she’s saying about over the top plans that are three pages long.

        No one else announced Henry’s sex! My husband got to. It was a really cool moment for everyone, even the nurses. I can’t say enough nice things about the nurses that I had at Henry’s birth. They were amazing.

        • Liza August 23, 2014, 8:04 pm

          I don’t really understand the whole “wait to announce the sex” thing or the “I want my husband to announce the sex” thing. It’s a baby. It’s either a boy or a girl. This is not a big surprise here. I just want a healthy baby…boy, girl…delivered in whatever is the healthiest for me and my baby. Maybe I’m bitter because I already know I will have to have a c-section (I have a history of stroke and therefore am not allowed to “push”) but it just baffles me that someone would make a list of their requirements for their birth. Caitlin, I am a long time reader and really love your blog (I was baffled when you did this with Henry as well). Everyone is different though.

          • Caitlin August 24, 2014, 9:04 pm

            Sorry to hear about your strokes, Liza. 🙁 That’s scary. I hope everything goes well with your birth(s).

    • Jessica December 1, 2014, 10:53 am

      I don’t wanna jump into the debate too much here because I believe that everyone has the right to the birth they want and the right to educate themselves on the choices available. I will say though, during l&d there are natural opiates that are released whereas getting a tooth extracted or in surgery there is not….

  • Claire Zulkey August 21, 2014, 2:55 pm

    With my first, I secretly congratulated myself on not having a birth plan. I was so easygoing! So cool and chill. Funny and ironic and low-maintenance. Go me.

    Until I ended up getting a surprise induction 3 weeks early and the whole thing was scary and painful as shit (this is before I even got to have an epidural) and I ended up staying in the hospital for four nights. And in retrospect, I realized I *did* have a birth plan–to labor ‘normally’ at home, go into the hospital, get an epidural, sleep, and deliver the baby. I just didn’t write it down. Maybe if I had written it down, it would have worked out 😛

    Yeah, still getting over that whole experience. Maybe if there is a next time, I’ll get to live the dream…

  • Amanda K. August 21, 2014, 3:16 pm

    YEAH! couldn’t agree more. i also had a drug-free labor, and i requested no saline lock. i had this approved by my doctor, but then the doctor on call came in and immediately (before looking at my plan or talking to me) said i needed a saline lock and pitocin. i flipped out.
    thankfully, i had an amazing nurse who explained the situation and (essentially) stood up for me. without that in place, and without my doctor’s go-ahead that would have never happened!
    (more explanation is in my birth story here: http://www.thekriegers.org/2013/06/how-we-met-mary-virginias-birth-story-part-3/)

  • Lori August 21, 2014, 4:14 pm

    Great post! I shortened my birth plan for the second time around, too. This has been a hot topic in my circle lately as there have been lots of Aug due dates. I get so irritated when people call birth plans stupid. I think any smart, reasonable person with a birth plan understands that it is a list of preferences for a situation where baby and mother are in no danger. It would be ridiculous to think that it is a PLAN for the way things WILL go. I guess birth (like parenting) is just one of those areas in life where not everyone can be on the same page. I just find it weird how so many mothers that choose pain medication seem to be uncomfortable with another mother’s choice to go drug free and seem very defensive about it. Talking about one’s drug free experience or stating that one wants a drug free experience isn’t necessarily a commentary on another’s medicated experience.

    • Caitlin August 21, 2014, 4:16 pm

      I totally agree, but I think that’s because there are some very vocal crunchy moms who make everyone else feel like shit (me included, sometimes I read super crunchy stuff and feel like the. worst. person. ever. because of the shaming). I hope posts like this can sway some medication mommas into believing that not all drug-free mommas are judgey-wudgey because we aren’t!

      • Claire August 22, 2014, 9:50 am

        Caitlin, the term “medication momma” reeks of judgment. Why are you coining terms for the way a woman delivers? Why do there have to be set groups with defined names and characteristics? If a woman chooses to deliver a certain way, that’s HER decision. Deciding to take all the drugs you can get doesn’t make you weaker or less of a woman or a worse mom than those who go drug free. And, above thread, you state you didn’t do it to be competitive – which is interesting to me, as you mention it as often as you possibly can. Then, you make statements like “medication momma” and list a number of reasons why your decision is the better one (at least, that’s the way they read). I don’t have children yet, but have been told that, if I’m lucky enough to beat the odds and get pregnant at all, I will need a c-section. I may not even be awake during it. Reading posts like this makes it seem as though “drug free mommas” absolutely judge me for that, just like my possible decision to formula feed early on, or exclusively, would be judged, my decision to work would be judged, and so on. What about women who need drugs to get pregnant at all? Does that make them less of moms because they couldn’t do it the “drug free and natural” way?

        If you really weren’t judging people who make different decisions, or trying to be competitive and passive aggressively explain why you are so much stronger than those who take the drugs, you wouldn’t dedicate so many posts to why your way is so much better for the mother and baby, and you wouldn’t describe your birth as “drug free” every. single. time. it comes up. You absolutely do this to get praise and validation and feel special, when women have delivered without drugs since the dawn of time – and very few of them felt the need to brag about it online, or make others feel badly about themselves for choosing a less painful way.

        I realize this comment won’t see the light of day; I’m just hoping you actually read it and take some time to reflect on the way you present yourself, and the amount of judgment you pass on this site – whether you are intending to or not. For someone who claims to be a feminist, you sure like to add fuel to the mommy-wars fire.

        • Caitlin August 22, 2014, 10:11 am

          Whoa whoa whoa. First of all – tons of projecting and assuming going on in your comment. I actually refer to my birth as drug free when I mention it because I’m usually hyperlinking to Henry’s birth story. And I know other moms who are interested in a drug free birth will want to read it. Not everyone who reads my blog does so everyday or has been reading for a long time (but thank you for being a committed reader and noticing that!). So a major part of describing his birth as drug-free or Bradley Method is simply increasing the odds the post will be found via an organic Google search or helping newer readers who would be interested in that particular topic find the post. It’s really not fair of you to assume otherwise – if you want to talk about judging and assuming, maybe you could’ve just asked me why I do that?

          I write about drug free birth (and I wouldn’t say it’s “a lot” considering I’ve written maybe 10 out of over 4000 posts on the subject) because I’m pregnant and it matters to me. And it matters to some of my readers, too. Not everyone who reads my blog is into it – but not everyone is vegetarian or a triathlete either. That’s the nature of non-specific lifestyle blogs.

          Again, and as I said to the person in another comment, I would appreciate it if you didn’t judge ME or make assumptions about how I feel without asking. There’s lots of reasons why I do and why I write certain things – and I always try really hard to convey in my writing that, even if I’m writing on a specific topic for a specific group, it’s not a judgement on others (because it’s really not). It’s not fair of you to jump on me for specific hyper linking or using a shorthand term like “medication momma” and accuse me of being a being a bad feminist! It’s sad that people can’t write about their perspective without it being assumed they are attacking others for having a different perspective.

          • K August 22, 2014, 11:58 am

            I think the point re: “medication mommas” is that it’s a little disrespectful to use shorthand to categorize mothers based on how they choose to give birth. I’m not a “medication momma”; I’m a mother to a child (soon to be 2!), just like you and anybody else no matter how their children come into this world.

          • Caitlin August 22, 2014, 12:14 pm

            I get that, but the point of my response is not to jump on me for a shorthand comment and to make large, sweeping judgements about my internal thought processes.

            Also, I am closing this part of the discussion. It’s getting repetitive, occasionally mean (not your comment), and off topic and I think I’ve made it clear where I stand. I’m not fighting or judging anyone – which is totally obvious from the post – and I’m not going to debate/defend what people infer as my opinion behind semantics, especially when I’ve already clarified. Moving on!

        • Niki March 8, 2015, 9:37 am

          Wow. I am just reading your comment and wondering if you and I actually read the same article. Claire you are majorly projecting how YOU feel onto this women. There was absolutely no passive aggressive aspects, no judgment, nothing. I think you need to take a look inward at how YOU are presenting yourself.

  • Maggie August 21, 2014, 4:31 pm

    What do you mean when you say that you needed your episiotomy? Do people who do not need them get them? Why would a doctor do that if he/she didn’t think it was medically necessary? That really scares me!!

    • Caitlin August 21, 2014, 4:35 pm

      It used to just be the standard thing – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/22/episiotomy-childbirth-guidelines_n_1799394.html

      But happily, it’s usually not anymore.

      I needed one with Henry because I pushed for three hours and he was not budging. And I wasn’t tearing. Finally, they asked if they could give me one, I said yes, and he was born two pushes later. I was really getting tired, so I don’t regret doing it at all.

  • Mish @ Eatingjourney August 21, 2014, 6:23 pm

    Well, we had a 26.5 hour labour. Up until about hour 22 we had no pain relief..then we had gas (you don’t have in America…silly!) It was a LIFE-SAVER! Then we had our water broken and she had heaps of merconium in it so we had to go on the belly monitors. I was 23.5 hours into labour, no sleep, exhausted. I asked for an epidural.

    NOW..this is where I’m grateful I had a DOULA! Can we all just say how good they are? Well, mine was. My husband was awesome, but he also had NO idea what he was doing. ie: offering me a starburst while I was screaming through a contraction, naked in the shower. He was also exhausted and needed support. DOULA!

    I also asked for a LOW epidural. IE: know what drugs go into them. They normally start it at 10-12mls/hr. I got 5mls/hr. I could feel all of the the contractions (not the pain, but the senstation) so I could push her out..which I did in 15minutes with no intervetion. I also didn’t have to be put on any labouring meds to speed labour up or vacum/forceps.

    ASK questions!

    I also knew that if I had to have a c-section I wanted a gentle one.

    We were SO respected during our birth expereince. I didn’t have a needle in my hand until I had an epidural…24 hours basically with no one bothering me except to check on me. I only have vaginal exams when I asked for them..twice.

    I wholeheartdely agree that the birth experience is important.

    I also can’t suggest enough that women seek out a lactation consultant if they’re struggle with BF. I did and that is a whole other journey. The LC was amazing and thankfully we’ve been able to re-kindle a BF relationship with the help of a supply line and donor milk. But I didn’t think BF would be hard and it was for a host of reasons. I’m grateful we invested money and time into support around this.

    parting message: know your options and get support around you. xo

  • Alex @ True Femme August 21, 2014, 7:17 pm

    Best wishes for a safe, healthy, and enjoyable (can I say that?) delivery, Caitlin! I’m not at the point where I’m considering kids but I do think that it is totally fair for any woman to care about her birth experience! I think it’s really sad that anyone would say it doesn’t matter at all. Like you said, a healthy mom and baby are the most important thing but there are parts beyond that that might matter to the mother and her partner as well and they should be respected.

  • JessB August 21, 2014, 7:47 pm

    Thank you for sharing! I’m just 16 weeks with my first. I already know birth for me will be different for medical reasons and personal preference, but this is a good reminder that a birth plan can be helpful for most anyone!

    • Caitlin August 21, 2014, 8:32 pm

      Congrats on your pregnancy 🙂 Hope you’re feeling awesome.

  • Erica August 21, 2014, 8:59 pm

    Great post that clearly sparked a lot of conversation 🙂 I think everyone should just remember that you have to do whats best for you. I went in open minded and ended up getting induced (by choice) and getting an epidural. I”m very happy with my decisions. Again- I think everyone just has to do what works for them!

  • Kemma August 22, 2014, 5:50 am

    In my experience, one of the best things you can do for the birth process is to find a provider (OB, Midwife, whatever) that you trust, can build a relationship with, and fits with your philosophy on birth. If you trust your provider to make decisions that are in your best interests then that goes along way towards a positive experience!

  • Natalie August 22, 2014, 9:26 am

    I lost my birth plan from my first, but think both of mine were similar. I had pain med- free births for both of my children (mostly because I’m scared of needles and usual side effects of narcotics) and the most important part of my birth plan to make that possible was a request to the hospital staff to avoid asking me about my pain scale. It’s standard at most hospitals. I told the RN with my second that if I was swearing , assume my pain is a 9 or 10 (never got there!). With no one asking me about pain, drugs for pain relief just weren’t an option for me.

  • Suzy August 22, 2014, 2:33 pm

    Great post! And yay for doing placenta encapsulation again!

    I truly felt the Bradley Method helped us be realistic and informed of how we wanted our birth to go. It also helps to have a Dr and a hospital that supports more natural births.

    My advise, be flexible and be gracious to the staff! Also, if you plan to have a natural birth, ask for a nurse who is familiar with natural births.

  • Michele August 22, 2014, 11:34 pm

    I LOVED reading this… we had a birth plan with the first one, but she arrived 5 weeks early and after an error by the resident and 24 hours later, we ended up with an emergency c-section.

    I planned to attend a VBAC class for the 2nd one, but she arrived 2 mos early. We were able to do VBAC, took 26 hours. She definitely had struggles that I won’t go in to, but several weeks in NICU.

    Then #3 was on the horizon, by this point I felt I had seen it all and had been thru sooo much with my doctor. He, #3, was the closest to full term and way too big for me to deliver, so c-section after 13 hours. I’m only 4′ 10″. 😳

    I’m not sure everyone understands the true miracle in GETTING pregnant AND carrying a baby to term. So easy for some, so hard for others. Thanks for sharing Caitlin, loved this.

  • Abby August 23, 2014, 9:35 am

    Great post! I so enjoy reading your blog. I had two very different birthing experiences. The amazing thing is how in detail I remember them and how amazing the experience is. My 1st was overdue by almost 2 weeks. I had to go in, start on petocin, and waited. I didn’t use any other drugs. I loved the bath tub! I pushed and pushed and pushed. After 20 hours my doctor told me, “I’m giving you 20 more minutes then I think we will get you in for a C-section.” Not in my plan at all! My husband leaned over and said, “are you sure you want this?” I remember looking at him and said, “I don’t care if this child comes through my eyeballs, he/she needs to come out now!” C-section it was.

    Our birth plan was written with bullets too, and a huge thank you as the first words. And how we respect their expertise. As someone told me, “you have every right to be high maintenance about your care, it’s your child!”

    Now my second I wanted to try and do a vaganil birth after c-section. I think visualizing what I wanted really helped. I took a yoga class every week thinking that might increase my chances of success. Again I wanted to try it without using medications if at all possible. My doctor was super supportive. I went into the hostipal at 2pm and Marisol was born at 6:11. I didn’t need a c-section. It was another beautiful experience.( that was two years ago this coming week!)

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with so many of us!

    • Caitlin August 23, 2014, 1:06 pm

      I love the name marisol 🙂 congrats!!

  • Sarah Anne August 23, 2014, 10:31 am

    As a doula, I FIRMLY believe that your birth experience matters. When we say it doesn’t (because OBVIOUSLY a healthy baby/mom are priority) we dismiss those with actual birth trauma and reinforce that their mental/emotional health is not important. It makes me so sad and frustrated!

    I also find it so discouraging that the comments here talk abiut how birth plans are laughed at by staff. Or that going drug-free is being some champion. I’ve supported all types of births (medicated/unmedicated) including home births and women do amazing things when they are supported and safe!
    Short and sweet birth plans are so great. I usually encourage my clients to thank the team, put more of what you’d LIKE, not what you DONT like and at least include getting verbal consent for any interventions. I wish that part weren’t necessary. :/ Here in NYC, it really is.

    I’m so thrilled that you had a great experiece with Henry! I loved reading your birth story and I just really appreciate your candor with this whole process Caitlin! I believe in you!

    • Caitlin August 23, 2014, 1:05 pm

      I wish you could be my doula!!

  • Sarah Anne August 23, 2014, 10:34 am

    Oh! And I love that you have talked about your placenta! I think they are amazing things and wish more people would learn about them!

    I made my first placenta smoothie for a client recently!

  • britt August 24, 2014, 12:55 pm

    I literally get choked up / almost cry.when I.imagine your hubby announcing the sec of the baby after all this time ! The suspense would be too much for me all…pregnancy long but what a sweet sweet reward at the end of the birth

  • Sara August 26, 2014, 10:35 am

    I had a small birth plan I gave to my nurse. My son needed medical intervention so I barely got to hold him before he was taken away to the NICU. It sucked hardcore. I barely did skin-to-skin and I didn’t get to try brestfeeding until the next day. I also didn’t want an episiotomy, but Luke’s head was not coming forward and the doctor said she could make a tiny cut and his head would come out and I said OK (at that point I wanted to try anything! So much pressure! He’d been stuck there for about 45 minutes to an hour) and my husband reminded me that’s not what I wanted. So I asked the nurse if she thought I could get him out with one more push and she said “yes” but by then the doctor was making the cut. She didn’t give me time to decide. But it was teeny because she realized I could feel it! (I wasn’t numb anymore from my epidural–long story). Anyway, it all worked out in the end, but having my baby go to the NICU really changed everything. After they were done cleaning me up and sewing me up, my nurse said “I’m so sorry we couldn’t follow anything in your plan.” It was nice of her to try but it was out of our control for the most part. But it is really helpful for your partner to understand what you want and what you don’t and why so they can remind you when you’re not thinking straight 🙂

  • Amanda September 4, 2014, 11:12 am

    I’m late getting to this post but I’m a “medication mamma” (yikes) and I wish the conversation about childbirth could have less to do with whether you were medicated or not. I suppose it’s hard to get around but it involves so many labels that are unfair. I was medicated and have two healthy normal little boys. You weren’t medicated and your son is also healthy. End of story. I don’t tell everyone that I was medicated. I say birth was hard as hell. If they ask I tell them. I just don’t know why it has to be such a big part of the story. We all give birth one way or another and all that anyone cares about is a healthy baby.

  • Jess December 1, 2014, 11:00 am

    I’ve often thought that maybe instead of “birth plan” (since so many object to it/don’t understand the actual document beyond the name) we should start calling it “birth wishes” or “birth preferences” or something similar. 🙂

  • Dottie January 24, 2015, 3:18 pm

    I’m a bit late to this party also, but I was curious if you’d ever considered laboring in your own clothes–I hear so many people suggest it, but the logistics are a bit lost on me. I’m rewriting my birth plan for my second as well, and I remember how much I absolutely hated those gowns/robes the first time around. I see in a lot of your pictures that you wore a cami-type top, which makes perfect sense to me, but I can’t think of anything I can wear from the waist down that would actually work….

    • Caitlin January 26, 2015, 9:31 am

      I just was naked except my bra 🙂

  • Tiffany January 30, 2015, 1:30 pm

    I’m a planner…so I had a birth plan, wonderful iTunes playlists created (one with Jack Johnson, etc. if I was feeling that and another with songs like “I wish you were here” (Incubus) and from Rage Against the Machine for when things got tough)…I mean really, really wonderfully prepared stuff 🙂 Andddd then I went out to eat with a girlfriend six weeks before my due date and my water broke. I was near my OB so I stopped in and they found I was 4 cm dialated and I had to be admitted to the hospital – stat. I had NOTHING. None of my plans, no music, no hospital bag, no aromatherapy crap I purchased, no massaging oils…nothing. I hadn’t showered yet that day and my legs were prickly with hair. SO NOT how I pictured it all going down. But, my husband came just in time to help deliver our son. We laugh about it now because when people ask me “What do I need for the hospital?” I always reply…”nothing, just yourself.”

  • Jessi June 10, 2015, 2:55 pm

    Now that it’s time to write my natural birth plan, I was just wondering — you said you tried to keep it short and used bullets (I did too)…but how short is short? Mine is 3 pages and I’m not sure if that’s bananas or normal. >.<

    • Caitlin June 10, 2015, 3:17 pm

      That’s bananas 🙂 My first plan was a full page with no spaces and the second one was half a page. Here’s what my second one said:

      Mother: Caitlin Boyle

      We do not know our baby’s gender – Husband would like to announce the gender to Caitlin.

      • Caitlin plans to have a medication-free labor. Please do not offer her an epidural or any drugs to speed along labor.
      • Caitlin is Group B Strep Positive but does not want an IV. Hep lock is acceptable.
      • Fetal monitoring should be external and handheld.

      • Please do not bathe the baby.
      • Please do not dispose of the placenta. We will be signing a medical release with our OB-GYN’s consent and taking the placenta home.
      • No formula.

      • Jessi June 10, 2015, 5:37 pm

        I got it down to 2 pages >.<

        Is this really too much?

        Thank you for being a part of our team! We have chosen to give birth at the maternity ward of Staten Island University Hospital because of their outstanding facility and expert staff. We are requesting your help to attain our goals and have a happy, healthy, drug-free birth. In the event of complications, we will give our full cooperation after an informed discussion with Dr. Laporta and private consideration between mother and father.
        First Stage of Labor:
        *Please note that I am Rh negative and have Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension
        • Those to be present at all times at the labor and birth: Peter Levine
        • Family may visit only during first stage of labor and when approved by mother and father
        • I would like to labor at home as long as possible and request the option to return home if I arrive at less than 5 cm dilated
        • I would like to have my birthing ball request to have showers for pain relief when desired
        • If IV is deemed necessary, please use a heparin lock so that I can move around and walk as needed
        • Please no internal fetal monitoring unless emergency arises
        • Intermittent external fetal monitoring so that I can move around as needed
        • Vaginal exams only upon consent and as few as possible to avoid rupture of membranes
        • Please no Pitocin or breaking of water unless deemed medically necessary
        • No analgesia or anesthesia unless requested by father. Please do not offer it to me, no matter my emotional state
        • Freedom to move and walk during labor
        • Quiet room, no excess staff please
        • Hospital staff limited to my own doctor and nurses (no students, residents or interns present)

        Second Stage of Labor:
        • Choice of position for pushing, father and nurse may help to support legs
        • No episiotomy, please
        • Please place baby on mother’s chest after birth, unless medical intervention is necessary
        • Cord to be cut by father, after pulsing stops
        • Breastfeed immediately to help birth placenta – no pitocin, uterine massage, or pulling of cord please
        • If stitching is necessary, please use local anesthetic
        Third Stage of Labor:
        • Newborn to stay with parents at all times; no nursery visits please
        • Please delay all routine exams and bathing for 1-2 hours to allow for bonding time/skin-to-skin contact unless medically necessary
        • Please perform all physical exams and procedures in room with parents
        • If warming is needed, baby is to be placed on mother’s chest with blankets
        • Breastfeeding only: no bottles, pacifiers, artificial nipples, formula, or water
        • Father to stay with baby and mother at all times
        We thank you in advance for your support and kind attention to our choices. We look forward to a wonderful birth.

        NOTE: In the event of a C-section, I would like Peter Levine (father) to be present. Please let the baby remain with mother until stitched up and ready to be moved to recovery.

        • Caitlin June 10, 2015, 5:44 pm

          I would just delete everything except the things that they *MUST* know in advance. They are going to skim it so it needs to be as short as possible. A lot of that you can nix because they would ask first. So here’s what I did to quickly whittle (also, just so you know, I highly doubt you are going to want visitors during first stage labor without drugs if you’re far enough along that you’re in the hospital, but maybe!).

          First Stage of Labor:
          *Please note that I am Rh negative and have Pregnancy-Induced Hypertension
          • Those to be present at all times at the labor and birth: Peter Levine
          • Please provide a birthing ball.
          • If IV is deemed necessary, please use a heparin lock
          • Please no internal fetal monitoring unless emergency arises
          • Please no Pitocin or breaking of water, No analgesia or anesthesia unless requested by father. Please do not offer it to me, no matter my emotional state
          • Hospital staff limited to my own doctor and nurses (no students, residents or interns present)

          Second Stage of Labor:
          • Please place baby on mother’s chest after birth, unless medical intervention is necessary (NOTE: <--- this may be your hospital's policy so it may be redundant) • Cord to be cut by father, after pulsing stops Third Stage of Labor: • Newborn to stay with parents at all times; no nursery visits please (NOTE: <--- this may be your hospital's policy so it may be redundant) • Please delay all routine exams and bathing for 1-2 hours to allow for bonding time/skin-to-skin contact unless medically necessary • Breastfeeding only: no bottles, pacifiers, artificial nipples, formula, or water (NOTE: <--- this may be your hospital's policy so it may be redundant) NOTE: In the event of a C-section, I would like Peter Levine (father) to be present. Please let the baby remain with mother until stitched up and ready to be moved to recovery.

          • Caitlin June 10, 2015, 5:46 pm

            Also how natural birth friendly is your hospital? That impacts the length of this plan a lot.

          • Caitlin June 10, 2015, 5:47 pm

            And just remember, the longer it is, the more they are going to skim and skip stuff.

          • Jessi June 10, 2015, 8:26 pm

            You’re my hero!!! It was really reading your posts about Bradley that got me into reading about natural childbirth 🙂

            And the hospital s not very into natural childbirth (30% c-section rate) My OB is aware of my wishes, but has said numerous times he does not want to see me “suffer,” which is why I guess I was so crazy about the details of the plan.

            I’m battling gestational hypertension right now, and he keeps talking about induction and that we may be faced with a dilemma.

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