giving birth

Emily Henderson, HGTV Star, Brings The Realness With Awesome “Birth Plan”

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I love love love love interior designer and stylist Emily Henderson. I became aware of her through her awesome blog (Do not miss her posts on how to shop your local Craigslist), but she also won season 5 of HGTV Design Star and hosts a show called Secrets From A Stylist on HGTV. So she’s kinda famous. But that doesn’t stop her from bringing the charming realness on her blog, especially now that’s getting ready to deliver her first child. Reason #679845 why I love Emily? Her latest post on her “birth plan”—you’ll see why I put birth plan in quotes.

Emily’s just a few weeks shy of 40 weeks, so she’s obviously thinking about what’s going to happen when that baby needs to come out of her body. She wrote a long post about her “plans” for labor and delivery and I just can’t gush enough about her honest, refreshing attitude towards it all. Opening with a funny joke about a “glowing” delivery with “some discomfort,” she writes:

…my real birth plan is this:  ’Be yourself, and do the very best you can’. There is no ‘plan’ and there certainly are no absolutes. If I need an epidural I’ll get an epidural. If I need a C-section I’ll get a C-section. The health of my baby is my first priority, and my ability to care for him right after is my second.

She says she’d like to try for an unmedicated birth, but that she has realistic expectations about her ability to do so, citing some experiences of her friends. She talks a lot about the great doula she’s hired and some of the things she’s doing to prepare for labor, like having a lot of sex, taking a lot of walks, and drinking a lot of water. And then she says:

If I wanted to I could constantly be disappointed in myself about one thing or another, so why go into something so stressful, traumatic and unpredictable as my first birth with any expectations other than, ‘I’ll just be myself … and do the very best I can’? In case you are wondering what my parenting method is too, it’s the same answer … also for my career and marriage. There is something about determination that is great and very important, but life is too fluid to be able to predict (or judge) your own reactions to things. That, my friends, is my birth plan.

“Birth plan” can be a touchy phrase for lots of women—especially if you’re not someone who has the goal of having an unmedicated birth. So I love the way that Emily’s turned the terminology on its head while still being open and honest about what she hopes for the birth of her baby.

That’s not to say that’s there’s anything wrong with women who have very specific needs or wants for their labor or delivery, or for that matter, with women who didn’t read any childbirth books or take any classes and just want to go in, have an epidural, and get a baby. But I think it can be easy to get caught up in the myriad of choices and preferences that are available to women and families these days, to feel like you have to subscribe to one birthing “philosophy” to be successful, or even to feel like you must have a plan in place because that’s what every other pregnant woman is doing. To me, Emily’s attitude is terrific because it’s flexible but empowered, realistic but also informed.

It sounds like Emily has a badass doula, a supportive husband, and practical ideas about what might happen during her labor and delivery. She’s educated herself, prepared to the best of her ability, and she’s ready for whatever might come. I wish her so many millions of buckets of luck and love for her labor and delivery, whatever happens. I simply cannot wait until she posts her birth story, if she deems it something she wants to share with the entire internet.

Photo: Emily Henderson