Planning for the Unexpected

"Planning" for the unexpected sounds like an oxymoron, but it is a necessary undertaking for all pregnant women: whether you intend to have natural childbirth, an epidural, a home birth, or a scheduled cesarean.

"... studies from around the world are in agreement about the factors that determine whether a mother sees her birth as positive, negative, or traumatic. The most important factors are:
1. Whether a woman's expectations of birth match the reality of what happens.
2. Whether a woman feels involved in decisions about her care, even if her expectations can be met."

- The Doula Guide to Birth

So it's less about outcome, though that's significant, but more about the mother's sense that she was heard and treated with respect.

For some parents it is helpful to imagine their "What if" cases, and trying to imagine how they would feel and what would help them deal with that situation. If you are hoping for an epidural and it's not possible (which has happened to numerous friends, for various reasons!) then what's your back up plan? How will you cope? If you did not want the epidural and it was advised, how would you feel? What if you need a cesarean? What if your baby needs some NICU time and cannot room in with you? Some parents may find this to be incredibly anxiety provoking to consider but is it better to consider that possibility now, or deal with it in the moment? Depending your personality and coping method, decide what feels better to you.

And always remember that there is no "right" way to have a birth! What may sound ideal to one person is another person's worse nightmare. What feels best to you? How do you picture your birth? And if you cannot have that dream, how would you best cope with the alternative scenarios? Part of the job of a doula is to support you, help you know your options, and help you cope when things do NOT go as planned.

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