While most people who want natural births think of intervention as the “bad guy”, I try not to see it from such a negative perspective.
But if you truly think about it, labor intervention is put in place to save lives. Yes, sometimes it speeds up a natural process that doesn’t always need assistance, but the end result is healthy mum and baby.
Even if it’s not an ideal birthing experience, you can manage the consequences of having intervention done because everyone (mum and baby) will be alive to treat and get stronger.
I’ve had my share of friends having babies.
I think I’m up to 15 friends who’ve had a baby in the last year! So I’ve also head many different examples of labor stories, and funny enough, many of them did not turn out the way the mum expected.
I’ve heard both the positive and negative experiences of intervention-required labors with a planned intervention-free drug-free home birth.
So while having a “birth plan” is important to be organized, well-researched and prepared for the labor, what I’ve gathered is even more important is to be flexible!
Have your plan but know at any time it can change and if it does need to change, it will happen quicker than you can plan for. Often in a non-emergent situation you will have at least 30 minutes to decide if you need to have medical support to encourage the labor to happen.
Other times you have hours and hours, so you can talk about it with your family, doula, midwife, etc. to come to a comfortable decision.
There are only a handful of true emergencies, where the obstetricians will take over immediately so that everyone comes out alive and healthy. But this is what they are there for. They aren’t necessarily going to ask your permission, especially if it is a true emergency, so at that point, breath, focus on keeping yourself calm and trust that the doctors are doing everything they can to ensure the safety of you and baby. This is what they are best at, so let go of your birth plan and trust.
True delivery emergencies include:
- Placenta previa – when the placenta is blocking the cervix increasing chances of sudden life-threatening hemorrhaging. But this is often noted well before labor and a c-section may be advised.
- Abruptio placentae – when the placenta fully or partially detaches from the uterus before or during labor. The placenta is the baby’s nourishment and if detached before baby is born, will cause mum to hemorrhage.
- Shoulder dystocia – where the baby’s shoulder gets caught on the pelvis and restricts baby from coming out. This half-way position will limit blood and oxygen flow to the baby and requires a skilled midwife or obstetrician to use changes in positions or to physically pull the shoulder out.
- Prolapsed cord – when the umbilical cord exits the cervix before or at the same time as baby is delivered. This will cut off oxygen and blood flow to baby and is a life-threatening condition.
- Cord around the neck – sometimes as baby is turning around in mum’s uterus, the cord can wrap around the baby’s neck. This is sometimes difficult to see on an ultrasound and can’t be prevented readily. If the cord is around baby’s neck, you’ll want to be in a hospital setting and ready to have a c-section. Because as baby exits the cervix, the tension on the umbilical cord will get tighter and tighter eventually strangling baby.
- Meconium aspiration – meconium is the first stool that the baby releases and it’s a green, thick discharge that the baby could choke on if they were to inhale. If this does happen, you will need to aspirate or suck out the meconium to clear up baby’s lungs.
- Fetal distress – use of pitocin, stress or failure to progress can cause baby to go into distress. Sometimes over-monitoring will cause interventions to occur when not necessary, but in other cases it can save baby’s life.
- Pre-eclampsia/ eclampsia – when mum’s blood pressure is very high, this can be very dangerous for baby
These are some examples of cases where emergent intervention is necessary. If you have any of these conditions, it’s best to stay flexible and trust your medical team.
Your midwife or obstetrician will know exactly how to manage your situation so that you and baby are healthy and safe, so trust the process.
Ideally, we’d all want our birth plans to follow through without a hitch. We’d all love an empowering, safe and inspiring labor. Hell, I’ll write in that my birth plan is to have an “orgasmic birth”, but the reality is, not everything will go exactly as planned.
The best you can do it know all the information and stay calm and flexible. If you get stressed out about needing to be moved to the hospital, your labor will see more complications when you are stressed than focusing on your health.
So breath. Stay positive. And be flexible to any changes that come your way.