Dear Doula -
My partner and I don't agree with our birth plan. I want to be in the hospital with as many painkillers as possible, but my partner and their family want me to have a home birth. How can we compromise?
Sincerely, Where's My Epidural?
First of all, congratulations on your bundle of joy! I wish you and your partner all the best for this pregnancy, labor, and delivery.
Now onto your question. I'm so glad you are thinking ahead to birth! While, technically, no one can make birth happen according to their birth plan, having a plan helps your care team and support people best assist you. You say that you want as many painkillers as possible - good for you for knowing yourself! Of course, your partner is sure to have their own opinions and desires about labor and delivery.
You ask how you and your partner can compromise. To be frank, this is only going to work if both of you are willing to give a little. Before you start bargaining with your partner, it's best to sit down and try to understand one another's desires. This conversation doesn't have to be difficult or awkward; just be open and honest about what you each want. Reserve your criticism. Try your best to listen to their wants instead of defending yourself to them.
Ask them why they have a specific vision in their mind. What do they love about home birth? Do they have an aversion to hospital birth? Why? I'd also encourage your partner to come to the conversation with their own questions as well. Maybe they might wonder if you've researched the risks of painkillers during labor. Have you toured the hospital birthing unit yet?
RELATED: HOW TO BABY - BUILDING A BIRTH PLAN
I can't stress this enough: this conversation is NOT the time to make a case for why you want that epidural. Nor is it the time for your partner to argue the merits of homebirth. Just listen to one another.
Try to find commonalities. Probably you both want to experience a peaceful and comfortable birth. How can you create a peaceful environment within a hospital setting? What can you translate from home into the birthing unit? A few suggestions to jumpstart your brainstorming session: soft lights, candle warmers, cozy robe and slippers, your own bedding or pillows.
Notice who I haven't talked about? Your partner's family. I've got a fun little saying for situations like this: if you weren't there when that baby was made, you don't get to decide how it gets born.
That's right. You partner's opinion matters, but their family doesn't get a say in this birthing process. I'll take it even further: when push comes to shove, your partner's desires come third. Your needs come first, your wants come second, followed by your partner's wants and needs. YOU are the one giving birth, so you get to make the really big decisions in your birth plan.
Compromising on a birth plan can really only go so far. At the end of the day, a birth plan is there to serve the person in labor. If you want all the painkillers, so be it! Homebirth is definitely not an option in that case. Rather than trying to find a middle ground, become your own advocate. Prepare yourself for the inevitable: your partner's family are probably going to be upset. Let go of any guilt they might try to lay on you.
You're going to be too busy having a baby to worry about anyone else's feelings. That's the beauty of birth: whether it goes according to plan or not, you'll be too busy to worry about much of anything else. Focus on your baby, forget the rest of them.
Try one of these on for size:
"I want a calm birth, too. I will feel most calm with my doctor and a hospital nursing staff."
"Research shows that epidurals can actually help labor move faster."
"It's my birth, so it's my choice. Please respect my birth plan."
Epidural, I hate to say it. I don't think compromise is the answer. Yes, your birth plan and your partner's birth plan might line up sometimes. But when there's a disagreement? The one with the bump gets the final say. Good luck, Epidural! I hope you can have the drugs that you want during labor!
Do you have a burning pregnancy or parenting question that you want some advice on? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and rest assured that your identity will be kept anonymous.