Birth Blog

Birth Wishes and Birth Goals

by Julia West on October 31, 2013

The other night a dear friend of mine was telling me about something she learned from her birth class. She said the instructor asked the students to write down several of their “birth wishes” on separate pieces of paper.  She wanted them to write really specific circumstances that would be ideal. I imagine that the couples wrote about the ideal time of day, a perfect day of the week, status of family traveling for the birth, their hopes for a water birth or a friendly nurse, a steady labor pace, to be well rested when labor begins….So many factors could make for a perfect birth. After the couples discussed their wishes and scribbled them all down, the instructor walked around and collected random papers from each couple. Then she tore the gathered papers to pieces and threw them away. She told her students that no matter how well prepared they were, their births would not go exactly as planned. They would not get every, single birth wish, at least not from one birth. She wanted them to be mentally and emotionally prepared to let go of some of those wishes.



I thought this was such an excellent illustration. It’s so true. My son’s birth was not perfect. There are things I wish were different. He was born four (long) days past my EDD. The timing was not great for my husband’s job. Canaan was born on my brother’s birthday, which is neat, but I would not have chosen that, for both of their sakes. And his nuchal hand- yikes!- I would have much preferred that he kept his arm by his side. But those things were completely out of my control and I still came away cherishing the memory of that day.

That’s a hard truth of life: You don’t always get everything you want. But you determine to do the best with the things you can control. Right now, my little family is gearing up for a big move. It was not planned, but it is a great opportunity for us in many ways. It helps us move toward several of our long term goals. There are so many things I’ll miss about Austin. I have some dear friends here. I love being just a short drive from my sister. This city is beautiful and fun and I’ve loved living here. I wish I could keep those things and have the benefits of the new job in the new city. But, it’s time to move on and I can’t take those things with me. And that’s okay. So what can I control? I can try to make this moving process go as smoothly as possible. I can plan and be flexible. I can love what I have and be thankful and stay hopeful for the future. That mindset I can control.
There is a big difference between wishes and goals. Wishes have to do with what I cannot control and goals are about what I can control. I’m talking about the difference between wishing for a healthy pregnancy and setting goals to nourish your body, stay active, rest and make health conscious decisions. Committing to a healthy lifestyle does not guarantee a risk-free pregnancy, but it has many benefits and can reduce risks. I know some people are skeptical about the need for a childbirth class. Maybe people think I believe that if mothers just learn enough, they can plan their births to a tee. I do not. I believe many mothers need more information about the process of pregnancy and birth to make good decisions, especially because birth is unpredictable. I believe many mothers are presented with one option when there may be many. I believe mothers and dads should be active participants in the decisions made during pregnancy and birth, even when things do not go as expected. People may be under the impression that I’m “selling” perfect births. I absolutely am not. Maybe some couples shy away from a birth class because they don’t want to build false hopes that will be dashed if things do not go exactly as planned. In class, we talk about many variations of labor and ways to handle them. The usefulness of wishes is that they help us form goals to increase the chances that our wishes will come true. I encourage all mamas to have birth wishes and birth goals and to be realistic that some things are out of our control. There’s no formula for a perfect birth, but I don’t believe birth has to be perfect to be wonderful, anyway.

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