It's a familiar conversation that comes up when my students are developing their birth plans. I point to their dream birth choices that they have laid out in front of them and ask them how their current birth place and provider practices are different than the dream items they have selected.
When the conversation begins to ebb and flow into "well, my provider doesn't do waterbirth, but..." or "my provider said they want to induce me at 39 weeks", or "my provider says that their practice monitors continuously and I can't eat and drink in labor", I gently ask more questions.
Any good Childbirth Educator will tell you, that we don't care how you birth. I'm not being flippant or rude when I say this. What I mean is, I have already birthED my babies. My babies came into this world the way that they did because of who I am as a unique individual. I'm not interested in helping you have MY births. They aren't what is right for you. I am, however, VERY INTERESTED, in helping you align your values with your provider so that you can have the birth that matches YOU best.
My good friend Amber Bastian always used to say, "Don't go to a Chinese restaurant if you're really looking for Italian food". They are likely to be able to whip up some delicious noodles and sauce, but it's not going to be the Spaghetti and Meatballs you're after. So what the hell does that have to do with birth?
When you line out your dream birth and then select a provider that doesn't customarily practice those elements on a routine basis. You are inevitably making a plan to say "NO" in labor. This isn't a workable plan for a multitude of reasons - but let's take a closer look with a good ol' TOP 5!
Top 5 reasons that the plan of saying "NO" in labor, is not the best approach.
1. YOUR THINKING BRAIN IS NOT USEFUL IN LABOR
Yea yea, I know somebody is gonna get up in my grill about this one, but hey hear me out. When you spend time in the part of your brain that is necessary to make decisions, arguments, and remember logical reasoning you are actually inhibiting yourself from progressing normally in labor with your natural hormones. Don't believe me? Check out Dr. Sarah Buckley's work on The Hormonal Physiology of Childbearing.
2. YOU ARE SUPER VULNERABLE IN LABOR
I can't tell you how many times I have seen a strong, powerful, take no shit mama in labor become a sweet obedient soul. We are all trying to do the right thing, PLUS you're going through some massive sensations in your body. If someone with a strong enough confident voice instructs you to do something, even the strongest of humans can be willing to do things they wouldn't normally do given the circumstances.
3. PUTTING YOUR PARTNER IN THE ROLE OF WARDEN DOES NO ONE ANY GOOD
Your dear partner, who has taken the classes with you, watched the documentaries, loves you dearly, is also NOW in the new and uncharted space of welcoming their child into the world. Now let's heap the role of "pay attention and fight" on to them when something comes up that is not in your Birth Preferences Letter. It's just not realistic that they will be able to know what is medically necessary at the time of birth and what simply is just a style preference of your particular care provider.
4. TRUSTING YOUR PROVIDER IS ACTUALLY REALLY IMPORTANT
If you are able to align your values with your care provider BEFORE birth you don't have to feel any of this yucky stuff in the first place! Just imagine with me... a birth where you feel excited to call your birth place/provider and tell them you're in labor. These places and people exist, and you're gonna work to go find them NOW (prenatally) instead of not trusting your provider in labor. If your labor takes on the twists and turns you can't predict at this point, you can at least feel a sense of full trust that they have your ultimate goals and values in mind.
5. YOU DON'T GET A DO-OVER
You've got this one chance at this birth to get it right and by "right" I don't mean some magical unicorn fairy dust birth necessarily (unless that's your jam, then by all means twinkle twinkle I'll be the first to grab the fairy dust). Don't wait til your 'next' birth to go to that Birth Center or try out that Midwife. Do it now and set yourself up for the birth you dream of. I trust you'll be able to roll with the twists and turns of what labor and birth gives you - you're smart and pretty kick-ass.