Deciding to have a baby is a big, sometimes difficult decision. However, once you've decided to go for it, deciding how to have said baby can be tough, too. Medicated versus unmedicated. Vaginal versus c-section. OB-GYN versus midwife. Hospital versus home. Maybe you want a doula. Maybe you want to be as alone as possible. A birth plan can help organize your thoughts and facilitate discussions with your care providers to achieve the kind of birth that makes you most comfortable. Once it is written, though, there will be infuriating questions people will ask about your birth plan. I'm sorry: as far as I know there is no way of avoiding this.
There's nothing quite like being pregnant to remind you that, socially and policy-wise, a woman's body is all too often considered public property. Because if a non-pregnant female body is subject to constant public scrutiny, discussion, and debate, a pregnant body is super prone to other people going on and on about what they think is best for "the host" and how empowered the pregnant person in question should be in their own decisions. So the minute you start to indicate agency, there are going to be some people (not all people, thank goodness, but some) who will seek undermine you in any number of ways. They usually do this very nicely. They're not fooling anyone — it doesn't take a genius to recognize concern trolling when you see it — but it's usually in the form of "questions" that are actually thinly veiled judgments. Such as:
"Do You Think The Baby Cares About Your Plan?"
Unless someone is completely delusional, they're pretty well aware that no plan is foolproof and things may take a turn into the unexpected. A birth plan, most people realize, is what you would like to happen under the best circumstances in order to achieve your ideal experience. Reminding me that things can go awry is obnoxious and unnecessary. I know the baby hasn't read the birth plan. These are just some personal goals of mine.
And, sure, there are people out there who are completely delusional and hyper-unrealistic about the purposes of a birth plan. They exist, but you can't really talk to them anyway, so why even bother?
"Is That Safe?"
Translation: "I disapprove, because I think it's unsafe, and you're really not going to be able to convince me otherwise. I'm not so much asking you a question as voicing my disapproval of your choice by warning you in the most passive aggressive way possible."
Please trust that mothers and care providers have taken everyone's safety into account when making a plan.
"You Know They Don't Hand Out Medals, Right?"
Any mom who is planning on an unmedicated birth probably gets this one 900 times over the course of her pregnancy. "Why bother being in pain?" people ask. "It's not like you're getting a medal for it. Just get the drugs!"
I'm extremely certain that no woman ever planned an unmedicated birth because she thought she was going to be rewarded for it in any way. She should get a medal for having to listen to people blather on with their useless opinions that undermine her choice and intentionally misconstrue her intentions, though. Can we make that happen?
"Why Would You Do That To Your Baby?"
of course, this particular "question" si for moms who opt for epidurals. So, med-free or medicated, no one escapes these "questions." Hooray! Everyone gets judged! Wheee! So much fun!
Epidural myths abound, including some about harming the baby. While doctors and researchers continue to look into the effects epidurals could have on mother and child, the fact is that based on all we know now, they are deemed a safe and appropriate choice for most women (and the babies are perfectly safe).
"Why Would You Do That To Yourself?"
Why do you care? Like, it's a choice I made for me, so I'm obviously fine with it. Why are you trying to make me feel like an idiot? Do I do this to you? When we're out to lunch and you order a soup, do I say, "Why are you doing that to yourself? I hate that soup! Choose something else! It's going to be better!" I don't, because I'm not rude and obnoxious.
"Have You Read [This Book/Article That Contradicts Everything You've Just Told Me]?"
Translation: "I'm not going to try to convince you, but this well-known author who confirms my own personal worldview will!"
Sharing information is totally fine. It's great even. However, think about your motivations and the person you're talking to. Are you doing this in a spirit of sharing ideas, or are you only trying to sway them to your way of thinking? If the latter, save it.
"You Know What I Did?"
I don't care. I'm sure it worked out beautifully for you if you're attempting to go on about it, but I'm not you and you're not me.
Sharing birth experiences can be tremendously useful to a pregnant woman. I loved hearing other people's birth stories, even if they were different from mine. That said, I did not appreciate when someone only wanted to share their experience to assert the superiority of their decisions over mine. Let's talk with each other, not at each other.
"Are You Saying I Was A Bad Mother?"
My. Choices. Are. Not. An. Indictment. Of. Your. Choices.
Seriously, I know this may be hard to believe, but my birth isn't about you. I'm so sorry you had to find out this way. I had a poem and an interpretive dance troupe prepared to tell you in a really beautiful, artistic way, but I guess things don't always go according to plan.
"Have You Looked Into...?"
Here's the thing: if I've gone through the trouble of making a birth plan, I feel like it's safe to say I went through the trouble of weighing my options. So just go ahead and assume that I have looked into whatever you've told me about and decided against it anyway.
"Have You Educated Yourself On Your Options?"
Whenever I hear this question, directed at me or anyone else, I see red and enter some sort of rage fugue. I don't think I've ever gone on a rampage while in that altered state of consciousness, because I've never seen anything on the news about it, but if I found out I had I wouldn't be surprised or too hard on myself. It's just that this is such a condescending and obnoxious "question," because it presumes:
1) I am uneducated
2) I am so uneducated I haven't even thought about remedying that fact
3) If I have "educated myself," I did it wrong, because I didn't reach the same conclusions you did
4) You are infallible in your beliefs and opinions.
I don't know, why do you think I have to explain myself to you?