Your Birth Story Should Never Make You Feel Like A 'Failure'

Christine Lakin wants moms to know it’s okay if labor doesn’t go according to plan

Birth plans are all the rage, but as anyone whose had a baby can tell you, almost nothing turns out exactly how you want it. A lot of moms feel guilt when their labor wishes go awry, but actress Christine Lakin is speaking out about the unexpected turns her labor took in the hopes of showing other moms that it’s okay if you didn’t get your “perfect” birth experience.

In an essay for People, Lakin — who’s best known for her role as Alicia Lambert on Step By Step — writes that her birth story began two weeks ago with her water breaking unexpectedly a day after her maternity photo shoot. She’d planned to labor at home for a few hours, but was admitted to the hospital almost immediately because doctors were concerned about the risk of infection. From there, one thing after another seemed to go wrong.

Like many of us, Lakin went into her labor hoping not to use pain meds, but the contractions proved too intense and she opted for an epidural. After that, her labor stalled and she became panicked that it was all her fault. She writes, “I blamed myself for getting the epidural, thinking that had stopped my labor. Pitocin didn’t get my big contractions going again and by the morning, the nurses were talking C-section. Exactly what I — again MY plan — was hoping to avoid.”

In the end, Lakin was able to deliver naturally, but her daughter, Georgia, arrived with the cord wrapped twice around her neck. It took a few minutes for her to start crying, which Lakin describes as the “scariest moment I have ever known,” but ultimately, little Georgia was just fine.

Lakin says that even though many parts of her labor were confusing, disappointing, or scary, she wants to share her story so other moms stop putting so much pressure on themselves. She writes:

“I felt like a failure. And this is what I want to say about that: no one can tell you one way is better than another to have a child. For all of your preparation, mediation and desire, your body and your unborn child dictate what ultimately happens… I share this story because I learned a lot about just how little control we have over some things in life and how it’s not a reflection on us as humans when things don’t go the way we want them to.”

As much as we agonize over having the most beautiful, empowering, and serene birth experience ever, sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. It’s completely normal to feel emotional when things don’t go according to plan, but one thing women should never feel is shame.

There’s nothing wrong with you if your labor didn’t go the way you hoped it would, and it’s not your fault if things took crazy and unexpected turns. Labor may be a natural process, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy or predictable, and it certainly doesn’t have to be perfect in order to be considered a success.