The Back-Up Plan: When Childbirth Take an Unexpected Turn


In the days leading up to my first child’s birth, the pain of Braxton-Hicks contractions was only dulled by the reassuring thought of the epidural I planned to get during my actual labor. Imagine my surprise, frustration and horror when 12 hours in, the good man with the drugs told me I couldn’t have any.

Curses were hurled and tears were shed. No part of me was prepared to deliver naturally. Worse still, in the event of a C-section, I would have to be put to sleep. Nothing about this situation was going according to plan.

Creating your birthing plan is as complicated and detailed as planning a wedding or decorating a house. The difference is that childbirth will most likely be the most physically challenging day of your life.

With that in mind, you must ask yourself: Who do I want to be present for the birth? Do I want someone to be taking pictures? Will I ask for pain medication or go natural? Do I want to bring personal things from home to make me more comfortable? With increasing support for home birth, you may even be pondering where to deliver your child.

What happens, however, when your water breaks, contractions get intense and something doesn’t go the way you thought it would? Here are some tips for coping when the plan goes out the window:

  • Don’t panic. Though it seems the perfect opportunity to have a meltdown, doing so helps neither you nor your baby.
  • Allow yourself to be sad or disappointed for a moment, then move forward. If you don’t let out the emotions, holding on to them may have a negative effect on your memories of the entire experience.
  • Ask questions. Doctors and nurses are there to help you make an informed decision. Express your concerns and be prepared to listen to why things have to be altered.
  • Think big picture. In the grand scheme of your child’s entire life, this is only one day. It should be memorable for finally meeting your precious baby.

Childbirth, like parenting, is unpredictable. Make a plan for what’s most important to you while keeping in mind that it will not be the last time your baby catches you by surprise.

Kellie Doligale is a single mom to one-year-old Evelyn. Both Louisville natives, they recently moved to Lexington. Kellie enjoys painting, learning to cook and keeping a blog at