Making a birth plan is a good idea, being ready to change it is an even better one

I am from Italy, my husband is from Spain, and we met in Germany - thanks to our French friends in common! I am an Engineer and I work as a manager in a big international company. I have always been very much focused on my career but never had doubts that I wanted to have kids. Luckily I found someone with the same mind-set and that makes the same sacrifices that I do, so I can continue pursuing my career, which also involves working full-time and traveling for business, without worrying about the family at home.

Back in January 2018, everything was ready for our trip to Peru, we were supposed to leave few days later for a big adventure. Only one thing was missing: my period.

I took an unexpectedly positive pregnancy test and ran to my ob/gyn to understand what we could do with our trip. Traveling while pregnant is usually safe and we were ready to face some difficulties like Zika, being cautious with food, and potential hospital visits, but the doctor told me that the extreme altitude of Peru would have been too much of a risk… so our trip was cancelled, but a journey even more amazing was about to start!

The 9 months went on very smoothly without any sickness and I managed to continue traveling, working,and doing sports. I loved my belly and being pregnant!

It was time to start preparing for the delivery, and I strongly believe that there is no right or wrong way of doing it. Each woman is different and should prepare in the way that makes her more comfortable. I have friends that decided not to prepare and to go with the flow, others tried hypnosis or acupuncture, there are so many options and it’s a very personal decision.

In my case, I wanted to know everything and feel prepared for any situation that I could have faced. I read tons of birth stories on the internet, imagining every situation, like a 3-day labor or my child needing to spend time in the NICU. I became an expert on all kind of risks and complications. But it didn’t scare me, it made me feel ready and prepared.

I didn’t have a proper birth plan but made up my mind on some points: I wanted to wait at home as long as possible, to move around dancing during labor and to be open to medications if I felt the need. But the most important thing I decided, and the only thing on that list that I actually did, was to stay flexible and to adapt my decisions to the situation.

Making a birth plan is a good idea, being ready to change it is an even better one.

The day before my due date everything felt normal, but before going to bed I decided suddenly that I neededto pack my beauty case inside the maternity luggage. I was still using it daily at home so I kept it outside, but something was telling me that my baby was going to arrive on his due date, punctual and precise like his mother, and I was right. At midnight I had my first contraction and, following my gut again, I decided to forget the birth plan and head immediately to the hospital.

After a taxi ride and a check up, at 2am, I was laying on a hospital bed.

‘Laying down??’ You might wonder, ‘Wasn’t she supposed to dance around and jumping up and down the stairs while in labor?’ Well, apparently my birth plan was wrong again: the most comfortable position was still in my bed. I didn’t move a muscle for hours.

The pain was becoming unbearable and I asked for an epidural, but the nurses found excuses to delay it as long as possible.

I decided to prepare for every contraction with a positive thought:

‘This one is for the trip we will take to New Zealand, this one is for the first time you will call me Mamma...’.

Positivity worked so well in helping me move past the pain of the contractions, that at the next check up, I was past the dilatation that would have allowed an epidural. No medication for me after all!

Shortly after, I was ready to push. I couldn’t believe it. I read so many horrible stories to prepare my labor and there I was, at the end only 7 hours after my very first contraction. Unfortunately the pushing part took a very long time due to the position of the cord around the neck, but at 8:58am, on his due date, my baby was there, very punctual and crying healthily.

We went home after 2 days, realizing that all the stories I had read to prepare stopped at the time of birth. Nobody prepared me for what to expect after giving birth.

Breastfeeding was hurting like hell and I couldn’t manage to do anything except from taking care of my baby. One day I remember calling my husband in tears because I couldn’t manage to cut my lunch and I was starving. I felt alone and in the turmoil of hormones, something I didn’t prepare and didn’t know how to manage.

Luckily all the difficulties of the first weeks went away and we started enjoying all the family moments I had mentally planned for during the delivery. 

Soon my son will turn 2 years old and I am grateful for everything we experienced together, from the pregnancy on - this is way better than a trip to Peru!

Sometimes I miss being pregnant: I was feeling beautiful, loved my bump, enjoyed every kick and really lived the 9 months as something special. I am a very organised person so of course I prepared myself for the birth, but I had a clear rule: follow your heart.

I repeat this advice to all my pregnant friends, make your plans but be ready to change them. I planned to stay home as long as possible during labor and ended up going to the hospital at the first contraction because I felt I needed it.

I planned to use the bathtub and all other supports they offer and the hospital and finally didn’t even get a delivery room because they were all occupied. And you know what? It was better than in my plans! 

Chiara – Mom of 1 son – Hamburg, Germany

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