Today I want to tell you five things to watch for your birth to be hard. These are things that can be fixed, but you need to be aware of them.
Be SURE to read til’ #5 — because it’s the one you have the most control over!
1 – You Don’t Like Your Doctor
Now, not liking your doctor can fall into one of two camps:
- They are a jerk, but a great doctor
- They are a jerk and also a horrible doctor
Now, as a nurse I’ve seen a LOT of doctors fall into that first camp. Many people that specialize in specific things (aka, neurosurgery or cardiology) just are so into the data and the work they forget to be good humans (although many when pushed actually are — it just doesn’t come naturally to them).
However, those are the doctors I want on my side when the chips are down.
The reality is that a doctor in labor often doesn’t really matter (which is why homebirth has great results — honestly, you could birth alone a great majority of the time and be really fine — you just never know if your birth will be the problem one).
However, things can go wrong — like really wrong. Then you need a skilled artisan at their work. And those artisans are sometimes big fat jerkfaces. Unfortunately. That isn’t to say that you can’t find a doctor that is both, but I think sometimes the general population just doesn’t understand this.
Pro Tip: Some of the “nicest” doctors (per patients) are the absolute WORST in their practice. Just something nurses know, that other people don’t know. You’ve gotta be mindful of their “niceness” and if they’re doing things you don’t want with a big smile on their faces…..
Ok, so you don’t like your doctor. I’ll agree that this is an issue. What can you do about it?
If you’re Before 30 Weeks: Get a new provider. Prior to 30 weeks it’s pretty easy to change providers. Ask friends, ask in community groups on social media and then compare them with your insurance options to see some good ones to try. You can always try calling their office to get a “vibe” (although this also doesn’t always work).
If you’re after 30 weeks: You can still try to get a new provider but some offices won’t accept patients as they get closer to their due date (for a variety of reasons). I’d ask around, and call a few on your insurance plan to see if you can change.
However, no matter what you do — if you don’t love your doctor it’s EXTRA important to follow #5…. so keep reading.
But first, we’re going to talk about something not a lot of people think about:
2 – Previous Uterine or Cervical Surgery
When you have a biopsy (or a c-section) sometimes they don’t mention that that surgery can hurt your chances towards having a vaginal birth. This includes cone biopsies for an issue on your pap smear.
Uterine surgery can weaken the uterine walls and can cause labor to be more dangerous. Because of this we have to monitor you more closely and we will recommend a few more precautions when you are in labor.
Cervical surgery can leave a scar on your cervix that can prevent it from opening. Sometimes it just has to stretch, but sometimes it really complicates things.
There are specific types of uterine surgery (usually if you have a scar that is vertical vs horizontal) that are a contraindication to a vaginal birth and they will recommend a C-section because the uterus is MUCH more likely to pop-open (called uterine rupture) at those incisions.
Pro Tip: Most incisions in the US are done horizontally, which allows a better chance of having a vaginal birth with your next pregnancy (VBAC or TOLAC). And, just because your incision on your skin is horizontal, that doesn’t mean the UTERINE incision was done that way as well — so it’s important to know.
Surgery or no surgery you need to make SURE that you’re doing your kick counts. Grab my cheat sheet here:
Ok, let’s go back to something you can change:
3 – You Can’t Speak Up For Yourself
Learning how to get the information you need from your provider and then firmly making your choice known is one of the best things you can learn to do as a human being. This will be a skill that will come in handy as you have pediatricians, other health issues in your life — so, learning it now can be a BIG help.
Some things you can say as you’re gathering information for yourself:
- Are there any other alternatives to this plan? (there are ALWAYS alternatives, never let them say there aren’t — waiting is always an alternative)
- Ok, that seem to be what you recommend, but can I ask what else we could try?
- Are the baby and I doing OK right now — what would happen if we waited?
If your provider is insistent that you do something their way you can say. I understand that XYZ is a risk, but I really feel better waiting for a bit. Please let me know if see other issues arise.
Mostly what you want them to know is that you’ve heard the reasoning behind their viewpoint, and have decided to do something different. So often in medicine we worry that you don’t understand what we’re saying and are just going by something you saw on social media — so when you help us see you understand it helps us feel more comfortable that we’ve really helped educate you.
A bonus thing to do is to say why you want to wait. or do it differently. For instance, if they want to check your cervix but you’d prefer they didn’t you can say that it is really uncomfortable because of previous trauma you’ve had so you’d like to limit it.
You can imagine that makes a lot more sense to use then someone who just says “no, I don’t want that.”
Pro Tip: I have a whole bonus video in here on provider communication where I give you what providers might say and what you can say in to them. Having the words helps get you started!
4 – Solid Expectations
This is a tough one. I’m a huge fan of birth plans! I have one you can grab right here:
However, the idea is to think more about what you’d like (in a perfect world) rather than what WILL happen at your birth.
It really is the patients that come in saying “I will not have Pitocin, I will not have a c-section, I will breastfeed and I don’t want anything else offered to my baby” that end up with the issues.
Now, you’re going to say that’s the staff making it that way, but I will counter with the fact that I consistently hope to beat the odds when I see this. I want their birth plan followed to a T. However, high expectations of what will happen at your birth often gets taken-down by mother nature.
Having low expectations of how things will turn out (but having hopes and being prepared) is a good plan for the rest of parenting, take my word for it.
And be sure to jump in that free class that includes birth plan info!
And finally, something you actually have the most control over!
5 – You’re Not Prepared
Not being prepared for birth is probably the biggest one here.
When you haven’t prepared — everything is a surprise, stuff feels out of control, and everything feels like “more” that is difficult to handle when you’re not sure what to expect. It’s like we just pile and pile more on you as the day goes on when you’re not prepared.
When you go in knowing exactly what will happen each step of the way it’s all expected and we’re not just dumping more trauma into your already unexpected day.
Now, you’re going to say — Hilary, I’m reading articles like this. I’m 100% prepared! And I would agree, reading articles like this is a nice way to get some surface information (and sometimes to hear lots of different viewpoints when you’ve already taken a class). However, you truly need something that goes from pregnancy through baby being born, and the few weeks after birth.
Something that prepares you from bump to bassinet!
Data backs this up, check out my posts on studies on childbirth education that shows taking a class lowers inductions, c-sections and anxiety!
When you’re only picking and choosing what you’re learning along the way you’re going to miss things, and they may be the most important things (you have no idea of knowing). So, using a professional to make sure you get what you need will be a HUGE benefit for you.
And, I have to ask this one — is your partner also learning about birth and baby?
They’re just as much in this as you are (and probably less informed on birth initially, most likely). Make sure that you’re getting them prepared with you — which is why SO many people love and recommend The Online Prenatal Class for Couples.
I love what Tyler B said:
“My husband and I LOVED this class. It being online was great because we could go at our own pace and really make sure we were absorbing the information. Hillary is so funny and down to earth and made everything less scary – 10/10 recommend“READ MORE REVIEWS HERE
I was actually talking with a friend about what she’d put in this post and she mentioned “big baby” or “diabetes” and honestly, those are all things we can work around (or aren’t even true sometimes with a “big baby”) — but the five things I’ve mentioned in here really do make birth SO much harder.
The good news is that this class can be done in just a few hours, and lots of couples find it so enjoyable they are prepared before they even know it! This doesn’t have to be hard!
And, if you’re not quite sure you’re ready for that whole thing (or wanting to see if we’re a good fit), check out my free prenatal class. It’s your first step toward getting in the driver’s seat of your birth.
- About the Author
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A nurse since 1997, she has worked in various fields including pediatrics, geriatrics & hospice. She has 20 years of labor and delivery experience in the San Jose, CA and Phoenix, AZ areas.
As an evidence-based prenatal educator Hilary has delivered thousands of babies and has educated hundreds of thousands of parents from a diverse patient population to help them have a confident birth.