I asked for an epidural about five minutes into my first pregnancy. I’m no hero, I wanted to be well-medicated. At twenty-one, my husband and I were the only expecting parents in our circle of college friends. There were no other moms around to discuss birthing classes, midwives, and medications.
With three obstetricians in town and one tiny hospital, my high hopes were getting a room and having my doctor when it was time. My daughter’s birth went smoothly and I rocked the epidural. Two years later we did it all again when my son was born.
And then we moved; from a small rural town to a bustling urban suburb, home-cooking to organic living, and hospital births to home births. Pregnancy number three would be a totally different experience. I was no longer the only expecting mom around. With a group of pregnant friends, comparison became the norm, and poisoning questions of insecurity followed close behind.
Am I wrong to want an epidural? Does God care? Is it more holy to have my baby “naturally?” Is God glorified by specific types of birth plans?
Compared to the supermoms considering home births, natural hospital births, and midwives, I felt inadequate as a mother. I wondered if my friends judged my decision, my faith, or my love for my baby, just because I wanted an epidural.
I listened to the flurry of opinions surrounding hospital births, the beauty of natural births, and what’s really “best” for baby, and I tripped headlong into temptation. I idolized the opinions and approval of others. Instead of finding my identity in Christ, I identified with moms going for epidurals and I quietly rolled my eyes about the others. I internally back-stabbed friends over birth-plans.
My insecurity robbed me of the gift of friendship with some of my pregnant friends. It didn’t have to be this way. I know this now that I’m less hormonal. If you find yourself identifying with one group or another, or you are tempted to judge friends making different choices than you’re making, considering these five truths may help you avoid the birth-plan backstab.
Five truths to avoid birth-plan backstabbing
1. Scripture does not mandate birth-plans
In Genesis 3:16
God punishes Eve by cursing her with pain in childbirth. Any pregnant woman who’s lived through hyper-emesis (massive puking), gestational diabetes, stretch marks, sleepless nights, or third-trimesters in the hot summer, knows the pain in childbirth lasts more than a day. We aren’t skipping the curse by temporarily numbing the spine.
We are not saved through childbirth or any of our righteous works (Titus 3:5
). We are saved by grace, through faith, lest any woman should boast (Eph. 2:8
). May our boasting be in the works of Christ, not our accomplishments in L&D.
2. Even my plans are only preferences.
Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. -Proverbs 19:21
We can fill our mind with lists of things we’d like to happen, but even our requests are subject to God’s approval. Each mother and baby are unique and so is each birth. Details may end up outside of our control, but when epidurals don’t work, natural births end in c-sections, and home births head to the hospital, His sovereign birth plan is accomplished in every delivery.
3. Behind every birth plan is a mom with feelings.
The mom we’re discussing our plans with may be terrified of pain, afraid of hospital germs, worried about being forced into a c-section, or she may just prefer her own bed. We don’t need to agree or understand her motives to offer her grace and kindness. Instead of offering opinions or convictions, offer a listening ear. When we speak, we should consider the feelings of our friends before our own feelings (Phil. 2:2
4. Flee the temptation to judge others.
If insecurity or divisiveness are temptations, stop participating in conversations that lead to stumbling. Change the subject. In First Timothy 6:11
we are instructed to flee these temptations. Instead, we should fight the good fight of the faith by pursuing righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness.
5. Value people over plans.
Instead of valuing the plans, we value the person making the plans. We ask them what they’re hoping for and praying about and how we can join them in prayer. We use our common experience - pregnancy - to petition the Lord for strength and wisdom in the mission of motherhood.
Labor for grace.
Pregnancy is a unique, exciting, and strange part of life, and it’s always fun to share the questions and commonalities with a friend who understands. So, as we share in the excitement of due dates, first kicks, and gender reveals, let’s also share in the grace we’ve received from the Father.
Instead of focusing on the differences of our birthing goals and experiences, find common ground in the gospel. Christ died for us, so we could be free from the law, no longer working to earn our righteous standing before God. And through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we can eliminate birth-plan backstabbing. In Christ, we are capable of loving one another with all kindness and humility, striving for peace with everyone (Heb. 12:14-15
), so that no pregnant woman fails to obtain the grace of God.