6 Women Share How Their Birth Plans Got Shot to Hell

August 28, 2015
It's pretty much impossible to follow them to a tee.

You’ve probably heard that when you’re pregnant, most doctors and doulas recommend you come up with a birth plan before you’re actually in labor.

It’s designed to spell out how you want to manage labor pain, but some women take it a little—okay, a lot—further, adding in music preferences, a guest list, and even flower specifications. (Hey—whatever gets you through it.)

Unfortunately, labor is hella unpredictable, and those “plans” can end up chucked aside once the real contractions set in.  

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But don’t take our word for it. These women spilled on what happened when they made detailed plans...which totally fell through.

"I’d watched several documentaries and books on it and knew that it was for me. I stressed to my doctor and the nurses on staff repeatedly that I didn’t even want to be offered pain meds, so everyone knew the drill. I managed to do okay during the delivery until my baby got stuck in there and didn’t want to come out. At that point, I was begging for an epidural. Thankfully, I got it. I was really down on myself for a while afterward because I wanted so badly to give birth without drugs. It took a while, but I eventually realized that the way you give birth doesn’t really matter—what matters is that you and the baby are okay in the end." —Tara H.

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"I wanted my husband to play certain relaxing songs at particular moments, perform aromatherapy, have white flowers around, and do a bunch of other crap that never even came up while I was in labor. I ended up throwing up constantly, and the epidural didn’t even work. I was in so much pain that I could barely think, let alone worry about a stupid plan I’d come up with was being carried out. The next time I give birth, I’m having no plan whatsoever." —Lisa P.

"I planned to have one with my second. The problem was, my second baby arrived too soon. Start to finish, that labor lasted less than five hours. I barely made it to the hospital in time and definitely was too far along for drugs. It was a shock to me—I didn’t realize I might not have the option. If I could do it again, I would have read more about second births and seen that the baby usually comes faster the second time around. At least the whole thing was over quickly." —Liz S.

"It was a joke, but deep down, I was serious. My mom had had very short labors with my brothers and I, so I thought I'd follow suit. I wrote down a plan: I wanted no epidural and to move as much as possible during labor, and I made a labor playlist. But then, two days before my due date, my water broke before contractions started. By the time I got to the hospital, I still hadn't dilated at all, so the doctors recommended Pitocin [a drug that can induce labor]. I knew Pitocin could make contractions stronger, and I was already starting to hurt—contractions started about two hours after my water broke—so I decided to get an epidural. And then, seven hours later, when I still hadn't dilated, the doctors recommended a C-section—which had never crossed my mind." —Anna D.

RELATED: Why Every Woman Who Gives Birth Deserves Paid Leave

"I had a list of stipulations, and of course, my husband would be by my side the whole time. He had to fly out on a work trip five weeks before I was due, but I figured we had plenty of time. I ended up going on a routine appointment with my ob-gyn the day he was flying out, found out I had complications, and had to be induced immediately. He had to be paged at the airport, and luckily, we caught him just before he boarded the flight. He wasn’t there the whole time, but at least he caught the big parts. For our next baby, he’s staying home for the last few months before my due date. I’m not risking that again." —Anne M.

"I was out at brunch with my family when contractions started. I’d repeatedly heard that women often go to the hospital too soon, so figured we had time. It wasn’t until three hours later that I actually started to head to the birthing center. I took public transportation there, and of course it was super delayed. I had big plans to take my time at the center during labor, hang out in the Jacuzzi, get a massage, and do a bunch of other natural pain remedies—but I barely got to step in the tub before it was time to push. I ended up arguing with my doula that I still had time while my baby was basically hanging out of me. With the next baby, I’ll get moving a little faster so that I can actually enjoy the labor perks I had researched and planned for so much." —Lindsay C.

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