Hospital Birth: It Does NOT Have to Be Scary
Trends in the birth world come and go. In the last ten years, home and birth center births have become more popular, and hospitals have become the less desirable option when women decide where they are going give birth. Documentaries like The Business of Being Born and Born in the U.S.A. portray hospital birth as something to be cautious of. Mothers today are tasked not only with growing (and then birthing) a healthy baby, but now are also encouraged to forcefully advocate how they want their labor and birth to unfold. Books, podcasts, blogs and birth classes all encourage mothers-to-be to arrive at the hospital, birth plan in hand, prepared to negotiate with their nurses and doctors in order to achieve their desired outcome.
There are several reasons mothers choose to give birth in a hospital setting, and perhaps this decision was an easy one for you and your partner to make. You might feel that having access to a team of highly-trained doctors and special equipment will put your mind at ease. An out-of-hospital birth might not be accessible or affordable to you at this time. You might find yourself in the “high risk” category- making a hospital birth the safest choice for you and your baby. Or, you might simply have weighed the pros and cons of delivering in a hospital against delivering at a birth center or in your home, and decided that a hospital was the best fit for you and your baby.
Yet you wonder what you are giving up by choosing a hospital birth…
If you are like the majority of women giving birth in the United States, you likely wish to allow labor to come naturally, on it’s own and without intervention. You are hoping to give birth without pain medication, and would like to give birth vaginally and without any medical assistance. Although it seems like the hospital might be the safest and most logical choice for you and your baby, you’ve heard a few horror stories about unwanted interventions and emergency surgeries and are wary of what could go wrong during labor. As a birth doula, I've supported a wide variety of hospital births in the last two years.
Do I think hospital birth is something to fear? Absolutely not.
By taking a methodical and well-thought out approach to hospital childbirth, you can be prepared for any outcome.
Here are a few specific ways you can prepare for a satisfying hospital birth experience:
1. Review the policies, procedures, and what to expect from the Labor & Delivery unit in YOUR hospital. Does your hospital practice delayed cord clamping? Do they have waterproof monitors so you can labor in the tub? What tools are available in the room for you to use (birth balls, stools, etc.)?
2. Practice comfort measures that can be replicated in a hospital room, and thoroughly discuss with your doula how to create an ambience conducive to making oxytocin flow for you. Make a playlist, bring some essential oils to diffuse, write in your birth plan that you'd like lights to be dimmed, etc.
3. Hire a birth doula to be an amplifier for your voice. A doula will remind you of your birth plan and prompt you to ask questions from your care provider when needed. She will also create space for you and your partner to make decisions, in private, about your and your baby's care.
How are you preparing for a supportive, safe and satisfying hospital birth?