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I threw out my birth plan. I still got my beautiful baby girl.

“I didn’t want to feel disappointed if I wasn’t able to have the ‘dream’ childbirth experience we talked about.”

I threw out my birth plan. I still got my beautiful baby girl.

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“If you want to make God laugh, make a plan.”


Though this sentiment was shared with me in regards to something completely unrelated, it stuck in my brain throughout the end of our pregnancy—especially when we were told to create a birth plan for our optimal birth experience.

But I found myself asking: Is a birth plan just a way for us to maintain the illusion that we have some say in how this goes?

My ‘plan’ was to have a natural childbirth.

I loved the idea and wanted to be able to feel my legs, know when contractions were happening, and really get the pure experience of what childbirth was going to be like for me throughout all three stages of labor.

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My husband and I took a 12-week childbirth course that loosely followed The Bradley Method, which claims to help prepare for the best, safest, and “most rewarding” natural birth experience possible.

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The instructor strongly suggested that we make a birth plan to advocate our desire to have a natural childbirth—to lay out all of our highest priorities—and to discuss it with our midwife.

But even the best birth plan examples stated that a plan is for “normal” and “uncomplicated” labor.

What happens if it’s not normal?

What does normal even mean?

I had to decide, would it be the birth plan that helped me stay calm during the unexpected?

Or would it be the trust I needed to have in husband to be there to ask important questions and the faith I needed to have in my healthcare team to provide me the best care in the situation at hand (whatever that situation turned out to be)?

I made the choice to forego the plan.

I didn’t want to feel disappointed if I wasn’t able to have the “dream” childbirth experience we talked about in class or guilty about not being strong enough to take on the intensity of contractions.

I didn’t want to risk putting the plan before the health of my unborn baby. I’m glad I made this choice for the following reasons:

1. You can’t plan for an old placenta.

We made our way to the hospital when contractions were about four and a half minutes apart.

We sat down on the triage table, and the contractions stopped. But we were there, so they checked me anyway.

After about four hours of early labor, I was only at three centimeters.

The nurse was encouraging and wanted us to stick around until the shift changed and the next midwife on call was able to check us again.

So we walked.

Contractions started right back up and, about 30 minutes later, we had already progressed to five centimeters.

“Normally, I would send you home and tell you to come back when things are a bit more consistent,” said our midwife.

“But something’s just not right here. The color of the blood present is darker than I’d like to see.”

She said it was most likely from a detaching old placenta.

And because the placenta is was life support system to my baby, the transfer of oxygen and nutrients could be interrupted by the detachment and cause fetal distress.

Not something I wanted to mess around with.

The staff hooked me up to a continuous electronic fetal monitor, and all of my hopes of laboring in the whirlpool hospital tub went down the drain.

2. You can’t plan for inconsistent contractions or how fast you’ll dilate.

Because I was one of the first patients admitted that morning—we arrived at the hospital around 4 a.m.—I was able to snag one of the mobile continuous fetal monitors and walk around in hopes that the contractions would continue to progress.

Unfortunately, the monitors were only picking up Baby’s heart rate and not my contractions.

I began to feel anxious; that the midwife would think I was lying about my contractions or that my husband would have to get out the Full Term app and start tracking them again.

After about two hours, we were checked again.

Still at five. Ugh.

And the biggest blow: The midwife said that Baby’s heart rate was a little off, and without reading the contractions, it was harder for her to tell what was causing Baby to react that way.

Onto the internal monitors we went.

With an internal monitor, the transducer is put on Baby’s scalp.

The wire runs from there through the cervix and is connected to the monitor, meaning the amniotic sac has to be broken and you are bedridden for the rest of labor.

I was now on the “your water broke and you have 24 hours to have this baby” timeline and, when they found meconium, I felt like I really had to get things moving.

Usually when your water breaks, things speed up.

That was not the case for me.

After a few more hours, I was at six centimeters and contractions were still every four minutes apart.

Hello, Pitocin.

Goodbye, “natural, drugless” childbirth.

My nurse said that the Pitocin would help get my contractions to a level 60 every 60 seconds–right where we needed them to get pushing.

My contractions, however, were going steady at a level 85-90% (ouch!) every two minutes.

After an hour, I was still at six centimeters.

I tried Fentanyl, a narcotic pain reliever, but with such strong contractions and because I was not dilating quickly, I knew I had to have an epidural to be able to stay relaxed enough to keep going and, eventually, to have enough energy left to push.

The epidural came, and Baby’s heart rate dropped to a dangerously low level.

They rolled me to my side and the heart rate slowly came back up to a stable level. The midwife quickly checked me, and I was still at six centimeters.

Though both the midwife and her partner physician came to talk to us about our options separately, they both said the same thing: Because Baby was back at a stable level, we could continue to try for a vaginal delivery—but the risks of another heart-rate drop with my contractions were high, and that would mean an emergency c-section.

Or we could do a c-section then and there and know that Baby was safe.

Meet my baby in 20 minutes or wait for who knows how many more painful hours? Bring on the c-section!

3. You can’t plan for how amazing you feel when you hear your baby cry for the first time

And find out you’ve brought a little girl into the world.

After 18 hours of labor, the feelings of intense pain, and the uncertainty and anxiety of not knowing if our baby was going to be healthy—even after the healthiest of pregnancies—I was so relieved when I heard that first cry.

We chose not to find out the gender of our baby, but we had strong feelings throughout the entire pregnancy that we were having a boy.

Each member of our healthcare team thought it was a boy, too.

So you can imagine the look on my husband’s face as he peeked over the sheet to “call it.”

It’s one I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

Or how those three little words made me feel: “It’s a girl.”

There are so many aspects of life that we feel we have within our hands, under our control.

I found that pregnancy is not one—which is why it’s such a beautiful and faith-filled experience.

It’s why every mother is so eager to share her birth story.

Not having a plan but knowing all of my options allowed me to feel positive about our birth experience, appreciate all of the great things that happened that day, and gave me the confidence that I was making the best choices for me and my baby girl.


Sara Engelhart is a Midwestern momma who currently works full time in corporate communications, but spent most of her writing career on staff at Diabetic Living magazine, Heart Healthy Living magazine and Better Homes and Gardens special interest publications. Sara likes to spend her free time with her newborn daughter, writing about food and wellness, or in the yoga studio.

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These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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Motherly editors’ 7 favorite hacks for organizing their diaper bags

Make frantically fishing around for a diaper a thing of the past!

As any parent knows, the term "diaper bag" only scratches the surface. In reality, this catchall holds so much more: a change of clothes, bottles, snacks, wipes and probably about a dozen more essential items.

Which makes finding the exact item you need, when you need it (read: A diaper when you're in public with a blowout on your hands) kind of tricky.

That's why organization is the name of the game when it comes to outings with your littles. We pooled the Motherly team of editors to learn some favorite hacks for organizing diaper bags. Here are our top tips.

1. Divide and conquer with small bags

Here's a tip we heard more than a few times: Use smaller storage bags to organize your stuff. Not only is this helpful for keeping related items together, but it can also help keep things from floating around in the expanse of the larger diaper bag. These bags don't have to be anything particularly fancy: an unused toiletry bag, pencil case or even plastic baggies will work.

2. Have an emergency changing kit

When you're dealing with a diaper blowout situation, it's not the time to go searching for a pack of wipes. Instead, assemble an emergency changing kit ahead of time by bundling a change of baby clothes, a fresh diaper, plenty of wipes and hand sanitizer in a bag you can quickly grab. We're partial to pop-top wipes that don't dry out or get dirty inside the diaper bag.

3. Simplify bottle prep

Organization isn't just being able to find what you need, but also having what you need. For formula-feeding on the go, keep an extra bottle with the formula you need measured out along with water to mix it up. You never know when your outing will take longer than expected—especially with a baby in the mix!

4. Get resealable snacks

When getting out with toddlers and older kids, snacks are the key to success. Still, it isn't fun to constantly dig crumbs out of the bottom of your diaper bag. Our editors love pouches with resealable caps and snacks that come in their own sealable containers. Travel-sized snacks like freeze-dried fruit crisps or meal-ready pouches can get an unfair reputation for being more expensive, but that isn't the case with the budget-friendly Comforts line.

5. Keep a carabiner on your keychain

You'll think a lot about what your child needs for an outing, but you can't forget this must-have: your keys. Add a carabiner to your keychain so you can hook them onto a loop inside your diaper bag. Trust us when we say it's a much better option than dumping out the bag's contents on your front step to find your house key!

6. Bundle your essentials

If your diaper bag doubles as your purse (and we bet it does) you're going to want easy access to your essentials, too. Dedicate a smaller storage bag of your diaper bag to items like your phone, wallet and lip balm. Then, when you're ready to transfer your items to a real purse, you don't have to look for them individually.

7. Keep wipes in an outer compartment

Baby wipes aren't just for diaper changes: They're also great for cleaning up messy faces, wiping off smudges, touching up your makeup and more. Since you'll be reaching for them time and time again, keep a container of sensitive baby wipes in an easily accessible outer compartment of your bag.

Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on www.comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

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Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.

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"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

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