In what circumstance would you butt in on someone's birth plans? - Mothering Forums
Birth and Beyond > In what circumstance would you butt in on someone's birth plans?
nilatti's Avatar nilatti 05:29 PM 12-07-2012

So, this is something that I experience a couple times each year, and I never know what to do...


I should start by saying that I had both of my babies at home, with a midwife, and in the process became really well-educated on the subject. Whenever I hear some one saying something that I know is against evidence, but is recommended by the dr, I don't know how far to go.


Here is an example. My friend's daughter (whom I barely know) was past due with her first baby. My friend texted me to tell me that they were planning an induction at 41 + 3 because the dr was concerned that the baby would be too big for her to deliver.


The first thoughts that ran through my head were the following: 

1) Inductions have a higher rate of c-section and forceps use.

2) The average length of a first pregnancy is 41 + 3!! (I looked up the study where I read this to confirm that I remembered correctly.)

3) Estimated weight at the end of pregnancy has a TWO POUND margin of error (and, seriously, how much bigger could the baby get in another week?)


Then I thought...what do I tell my friend? I thought about this for days....and ended up just texting her back to say that I was praying for a peaceful delivery. I really don't know the daughter, and didn't know all the details, probably.


Well, they did the induction.


The baby was only 8.5 lbs. I personally know four women who had eleven-pound babies without needing stitches (and the mom and the grandma both keep talking about how big he is...)


The mom avoided a c-section, but had a deep episiotomy and hemmorhoids from pushing. I really believe that if her doctor had just waited for her body to be ready, she would have avoided these injuries. I feel really guilty now for not saying anything, but I also didn't want to invade her privacy.


Where do you draw the line? If the mom in this situation was your best friend, would you have offered unsolicited advice? What if she was a stranger you overheard at a coffee shop?

WildKingdom's Avatar WildKingdom 05:36 PM 12-07-2012
There is no circumstance at all where I would Monday-morning quarterback someone's birth experience. There is one acceptable thing to say to your friend, and that is, "congratulations on your beautiful baby."
nilatti's Avatar nilatti 05:43 PM 12-07-2012

Sorry, I should have been clearer--not Monday morning quarterbacking, but saying something beforehand. In this case, maybe I could have replied to my friend (three days before the induction) with the statistic bout first pregnancies, on average, being 41 weeks, 3 days, and inductions being risky for interventions.


Of course, after the fact, "Congratulations" is the only thing one should say.

WildKingdom's Avatar WildKingdom 05:54 PM 12-07-2012
I wouldn't say anything before, either.
oliversmommy329's Avatar oliversmommy329 12:04 AM 12-08-2012

Please do not take this the wrong way, because I truly believe you have the best intentions, but their birth is NOT YOUR BIRTH. Not everyone has the desire for a home birth. Not everyone has the desire to have an unmedicated birth. Not everyone has the desire to go to 42 weeks. Some people want epidurals, they want to be induced, they want to do whatever the heck their doctor says. It's what they know and it's what they're comfortable with. Could she have possibly avoided an episiotomy? Maybe. You will never know.


I had a completely unmedicated birth and was not induced and ended up with a tear all the way from my cervix to my anus. They were stitching me up for an hour and a half after the birth. I'm still healing 8 months later. I also had hemorrhoids. My baby was only 7lbs 1 oz...I can't even imagine what an 8.5 lb baby would have done to my poor lady parts! My sister also had a completely unmedicated birth and she had an episiotomy because she was starting to "starburst" tear. Her midwife had only ever done two episiotomies before hers so she was definitely not episiotomy-happy. She also had hemorrhoids following the birth. Everyone's birth experience is different and there is no way for you to say that your friend's induction caused those problems.


With all of that being said, I think inductions happen way too often for "big babies". I have known people to give birth to ten pound babies vaginally with no problems. I personally would refuse an induction for a "big baby" because I am educated on the subject and know the risks of an induction. So I really do understand why you feel the way you do and why you would be concerned for your friend. But the bottom line is she is not you and she deserves to make the decisions that she feels is best for herself and for her baby. The ONLY people I would offer unsolicited advice to are my best friend who is more like a sister to me or my actual sisters, but only because we are all very close and share the same views about birth. Anyone other than that...a friend, a family member, a is absolutely none of my business.

studentDr's Avatar studentDr 03:01 AM 12-08-2012
the safety of the mother and the baby should always be number one.

post date pregnancies can run into complications because this is when placental insufficiency can start to happen. supply of nutrients and oxygen delivered to the baby is reduced and keeps reducing.

this is the main concern and if this happens then it is not giod for the babys brain ie well being , so if a mother doesn't go into labour then it's off to theatre for a c section. so induction of labour at least provides for a chance at vaginal delivery. but yes induction has risks.
Jennyanydots's Avatar Jennyanydots 03:24 AM 12-08-2012
I can relate, OP. In fact, i just spoke with my aunt last week on my cousin's due date, and she told me that my cousin would be induced this week, at 41 weeks. It's her first baby, and I felt like I had to force myself to hold back any questions I had about why they were making the choice to induce... But I didn't say anything. I think so near to a woman's due date, she has probably made up her mind and unless she asks for your opinion, you should probably keep advice/opinions to yourself. If you feel strongly that you have good advice to share about this stuff, and have a close enough relationship with her, there's plenty of time for those discussions earlier in the pregnancy, before the pressure's on. Near the finish line, it's got to be support only. Just my two cents. I think you handled it well. smile.gif
starrlamia's Avatar starrlamia 12:03 PM 12-08-2012

i dont think it is wrong to supply information, just be non-judgemental and not pushy.

JamieCatheryn's Avatar JamieCatheryn 12:42 PM 12-08-2012

If she was interested in discussing it, I'd warn her gently that induced labors hurt more and they don't always go as smoothly as spontaneous ones especially in first time moms, and try to give her the idea it is really up to her whether to do it or not.

studentDr's Avatar studentDr 12:49 PM 12-08-2012
I think I came across something somewhere that some people have more stretchy connective tissue,(skin) these are the people who are less likely to get the painful lacerations, and they are also less likely to get the striae gravidum (stretch marks)

did I get it the right way around ?
cileag's Avatar cileag 01:18 PM 12-08-2012
Honestly, waiting until 41 and 3 is pretty generous by hospital standards. I only offer information if it asked of me, and I would be hesitant to to give lots of advice to someone I knew so peripherally. Now with my sister or cousins or very close friends, I specifically remind them that I love to talk birth and am willing to pretty much at any point, but otherwise I stay out of it. I have a list of websites that I send people too, since I find that seems be received better as well. It's tough sometimes to watch, but no one really likes an evangelist.
Hoopin' Mama 01:56 PM 12-08-2012

You should say nothing unless asked for your advice. It's not your baby, your body or your birth. It is simply not your business to inform others what they should be doing.  

Dakotacakes's Avatar Dakotacakes 03:07 PM 12-08-2012
I wouldn't provide information or opinion unles asked. if you flipped the circumstances I would not like that either. Being informed is not always unilateal. Informed could lead someone to believe that 41 +3 is dangerous. Or that homebirth is risky. I f I were planning a homebirth I would not want someone "informing" me on why I shouldn't be going forward with it. Similarly if I was being induced I wouldn't want someone telling me why I shouldn't Everyone is different.

I personally had more than one person try to educate me on how most caesareans were unnecessarians after I had my child via c-section. In my case it absolutely was not (I have a structural abnormality confirmed via x-ray after my birth to try to pinpoint why delivery didn't go as planned). It drives me crazy and makes me consider becoming combative. And I generally agree, there are likely more c-sections performed that are necessary but that doesn't mean that individuals should be informed of this after the case.

As for the question the only circumstances I would butt into someones birth plan would be if it was truly dangerous. For example, if I knew someone was planning an unassisted at home planned c-section with no medical personnel or pain medicaation, I might butt in on that. But anything that is just a different value system I would keep it o myself
nilatti's Avatar nilatti 04:54 PM 12-09-2012

Thanks for your input everyone. As I said, I kept out of it, but was having a moment of "what if" and second-guessing my decision.


Oliversmommy, I am cringing reading about your birth injury. I hope you heal fully and soon!

firespiritmelody's Avatar firespiritmelody 12:56 AM 12-14-2012

If this was a very close friend of mine, I wouldn't hesitate to offer information or sources for information (like: "there's a great book by xyz called abc that has some really good information pertaining to inductions) and if the friend seemed interested I'd take it as far they wanted, and if not, I'd it go. I wouldn't be pushy or nosy and I wouldn't say anything about pain - not everyone who gets pit experiences contractions that are more painful then without. Saying something like, "I did some research when preparing for my own births about induction that I found interesting. Did you know that the average pregnancy is actually over 41 weeks and only about 15% of babies are born on or before their due-date?" If the conversation takes off, great! If not, drop it.

buko's Avatar buko 05:34 PM 12-14-2012
Originally Posted by firespiritmelody View Post

only about 15% of babies are born on or before their due-date?


Do you have a citation for this?  I thought it was 15% of spontaneous births ON the due date, not on or before?

1babysmom's Avatar 1babysmom 08:59 PM 12-15-2012

I can relate.  I have a REALLY hard time hearing stuff like that, too.  I've never said anything though, despite WANTING to and wishing I knew a way to get through to someone. (wait, I think one time I might have asked my cousin if she had considered another option, but I can't recall the specifics of the conversation)  BUT....the thing that always makes me feel better is that sometimes people have to experience things on their own to come to a place of wanting to change/educate themselves/etc, whatever it might be. (not that all those people are necessarily "wrong" in the first place, but that just experiencing something firsthand is obviously different from hearing it from someone else, especially with a subject as touchy as birth, where another persons thoughts might be a turn-off instead of a motivator.)  Hopefully their births go well and everything works out fine, but maybe it will be a learning experience all the same.  I know I was that way...I was "fairly" natural minded with #1, but it wasn't until after I had experienced an induced, medicated hospital birth (a very positive experience with zero complications, overall) that I realized I simply wanted something different. (and then I became a full-on UC'er! LOL)  And so began my journey to becoming passionate about pregnancy and birth!

firespiritmelody's Avatar firespiritmelody 11:41 PM 12-15-2012
Originally Posted by buko View Post


Do you have a citation for this?  I thought it was 15% of spontaneous births ON the due date, not on or before?

I don't anymore, but I can see if I can find it. My CBE/doula mentor uses that statistic in her workshops regularly. I think it might be 15% before, 5% on and 80% after.

1babysmom's Avatar 1babysmom 08:16 AM 12-16-2012

I've always heard 5% on the date, too.  It sticks in my head because my brother and I were both born on our dates- spontaneously.

Quinalla's Avatar Quinalla 09:51 AM 12-17-2012
If the person is looking for advice or information, I'll offer it gently and carefully, but when their mind is made up, I just say "Good luck!" or whatever. Unsolicited advice is annoying any time, but worse during pregnancy IMO and even if someone makes different choices than I would, I firmly support their right to make their own choices.

The only time I could maybe think about saying something without advice is if I was really close to the person and they were talking to me directly, like maybe with my sister, can't see with anyone else. Then I might ask a couple gently probing questions just to make sure she was fully informed by her OB/midwife. But with people I'm close to, I usually share resources I liked as soon as I find out they are pregnant and offer to listen to gripes, give advice only when asked and otherwise to shutup and wish them well. I figure they can read or not, ask or not, but I've given them open access to my information and it is up to them to make the call. And I leave myself as a safe person they can talk to who has BTDT which is so important for any pregnant woman!
allisonrose's Avatar allisonrose 01:32 PM 12-25-2012
Perhaps asking "how does she feel about being induced?" might open up a conversation. Maybe the answer would be "she is glad: she is so done being pregnant" or maybe it would be something like "she is nervous but is being told it is for the best".
Silverring's Avatar Silverring 02:49 PM 12-25-2012

The best thing to say is anything supportive, in my opinion, whatever her choice is.  


I had a birthing pool at home and laboured peacefully there 2 weeks after my due date, but there were serious complications and I ended up being taken away in an ambulance where they thought the machine for reading the blood pressure was broken because my blood pressure was so high.  In hospital or out of it, I would have gone through the same, but the 'ideal' doesn't always pan out.  We're very lucky to both be here.  I went for a planned section the second time and my resting pulse was so high that the anaesthetist was extremely worried about me having a heart attack.  I went into labour a week before the planned section and I was very glad to have a team of doctors on hand, working hard to keep us both safe.  


I know women who have had fantastic experiences at home, in hospital, natural, with and without drugs and having sections.  I also know women who have had the very worst of sorrows during delivery.  These were not caused by interventions.


I feel it is our duty as women to support other women going through this and for me this support has to come in the form of respect for their choices.


My mother in law's sister lost a baby to 'overlaying' during co-sleeping.  She must have been very worried at my decision to cosleep with her grandchildren, but she did not even tell me of the tragedy in the family until my babies were no longer babies because she respected my choice and trusted me to try to do the right thing.


If a friend asks for advice, I would help by leading her to sources of good information, otherwise I'd leave her to feel confident in the decisions she's making with her health care providers.

cynthiamoon's Avatar cynthiamoon 10:03 AM 12-26-2012

The way I've dealt with this with long term friends is talking a lot about this stuff BEFORE it's actually affecting us. I figure if the seed to doubt/believe in something is planted, then it will do what it does, and I've done my part. After that, I mostly butt out. However, this is my first time being on the receiving end of advice, and now I really know just how scary it is when you know someone is looking at you critically and saying all or nothing of their opinions. Eeep. 

SplashingPuddle's Avatar SplashingPuddle 07:56 PM 01-02-2013

I usually approach this type of situation with curiosity.  I might say something like "How are you feeling about the induction?" or "How are you feeling about the doctor's suggestions?" I would let the other person lead the discussion afterwards, and I would provide my own thoughts if asked or if the person was feeling uncomfortable with the induction but didn't see any other options.  I would acknowledge that it is a hard decision to make, regardless of what conclusion she came to.   

cottonwood's Avatar cottonwood 11:38 AM 01-28-2013

I think that not offering to share information is a bad thing for all of us, as a society. How does information get transmitted if no one opens their mouth about anything for fear of offending someone? How is someone supposed to know that something is even an issue if no one ever mentions it? When I was pregnant for the first time I had no idea what circumcision was. I wasn't online and I didn't have much in the way of print resources, had no idea that it was a question to even ask because I didn't know what it was. If I'd had a hospital birth my son would have been circumcised because ignorance, in a lot of cases, means that whatever people around you are doing and saying becomes the default. It doesn't even occur to you that there could be another way. So I don't assume that people have the access to information that I have, and I don't assume that they don't want it. I would be really upset if I'd gone ahead and allowed a circumcision and then later found that I had friends who knew something about it but didn't say anything because "it's best to just be supportive of the person's choice."


A better thing to do is to say something like, "Hey, I've thought and read about this sort of thing for a long time, and have some information you might not have and might be interested in having. Let me know if you want to talk."

Oread's Avatar Oread 09:48 PM 02-04-2013

It's a complicated situation, one that I am not good at dealing with either. I have 2 acquiantances who had babies within the last week, both went in at 41 weeks for an induction and both ended up with C-sections. I don't know them well enough where I felt like I could or should make a comment when they mentioned going in to be induced. They weren't asking for my input, and we don't have a close relationship. With a very close friend, I would be much more straightforward. I really like the previous suggestions of asking questions, so that you can get a better idea about their feelings and if they would be receptive to additional information. 


This is a slightly different situation, but the article speaks to me a lot regarding not only breastfeeding, but other reproductive and childbirth choices other women make and that ultimately I need to shut up and listen instead of proffering unwanted advice

I Won't Ask Why You Didn't Breastfeed