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You can’t always get what you want…

I never call them birth plans, I call them birth preferences because birth is unpredictable and baby is in the driver’s seat. Sometimes you do all the things you can to prepare for the birth you want, drink the teas, do the exercises, eat the dates, take the classes, select the right birth team, chose the perfect location, and yet sometimes things don’t go according to plan.


I recently had a client that was in hopes of a VBAC, (vaginal birth after c-section), and was seeing a midwife. She did all the things recommended to her to do, she was a model patient. At almost 42 weeks gestation, her midwife had her trying all the things to get labor going, nipple stimulation, raspberry leaf tea, Foley bulb, and the dreaded caster oil.... (twice!!!) She started having contractions that would come and go, but things weren't in full swing until the second evening of her natural induction efforts. We met at the birth center at 7pm, when she was in the 411 window. For those who don't know what that is, the "411 Rule" (commonly recommended by doulas and midwives), is when your contractions are coming regularly 4 minutes apart, each one lasts at least 1 minute, and they have been following this pattern for at least 1 hour. Unfortunately, when the midwife checked her... she was only at 2 cm. Birth centers are short term facilities, so they asked her to leave and come back when she was in active labor... But my client lived very far from the birth center, and didn't feel comfortable with that. After some pleading, they allowed us to stay for a bit to see if she could make some progress. Within 2 hours she had dilated to a 4! We did all the things... hip squeezes, counter pressure, side lying release, sat on the toilet, the birthing chair, a fitness ball, did massages, got in the tub, you name it. She was making great progress until she wasn't... She stopped contracting sometime after sunrise... She was so exhausted her body started protecting her from moving into transition. She had dilated to an 8, but even if she had been at a 10, she just didn't have the power to push. After talking with her midwife, husband, and myself, she ultimately decided transferring to the the hospital, getting an epidural, and a much needed nap is what was best for her and baby.


Baby girl was born just after midnight, and was perfect in everyway. It wasn't exactly the birth my client had planned for, or wanted, but she got to call the shots and was able to make her decisions about her birth because she was informed on her options. She did in the end get her redemptive VBAC and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, with her wonderfully supportive husband on one side of her, and me on the other.


My hope as a doula is that you feel informed, empowered, and that your birth was a beautiful and positive experience. Because, as the Rolling Stones say, "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well, you might find, you get what you need".


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