When and if your choice to have the birth of your baby in a hospital, you do have options. You certainly may choose to get the epidural, you may choose to hire a midwife, or plan for a c-section. Whatever you decide to be the best birth experience you’d like, I will always encourage an informed birth where you do as much research in your birth choice. I can only speak on my experience, which was a planned natural birth in the hospital and provide what I believe is important to achieving something that many say is impossible. Here is my advice for a natural birth in a hospital:
Have a midwife as your care provider
I know there are medically-minded midwives (usually called med-wives) that may not honor your natural birth just as there are OBs that are naturally-minded and do respect the natural process of birth. At least with midwives (my women care practice had two), you can avoid an on-call OB you’ve never met. Otherwise, find an OB that you know will respect your preferences or has built a reputation for a natural birth.
Hire a doula
A doula is someone you have for assistance and advocacy during labor. It derives from the ancient Greek meaning of “woman who serves.” For me, our doula was great in assisting my husband as he was my main labor partner and making sure my preferences were followed by staff when I was “in the zone.”
Prepare a birth plan
Going in with a literal “plan” of action does not only provide structure but it is wise to let hospital staff know and visually refer to your preferences and desires. I used this birth plan creator recommended by my doula. Please try to keep it on one page. I would recommend bringing your draft copy to your hospital tour and ask any questions you might have and also get a chance to maybe remove something your hospital may already do so you don’t have to list it on your birth plan.
Take classes (yes, plural), read up on what natural labor entails, and surround yourself with positive stories from other been-there-done-that moms. I found it really helpful to connect on Facebook with natural birth advocates and read natural birth stories, especially ones in hospitals. This point is so important because you are only as good as what you stand for yourself otherwise you will fall prey to anything.
Decline every and any intervention during pregnancy
Yes, even if your midwife kindly offers to strip your membranes. Your body and baby will know when it’s time. That’s it. Remember: it’s a “guess date,” not an expiration date!
Labor at home as long as possible
I’ll be the first to say it: being in a hospital puts a lot of pressure on you, which in turn can compromise your focus and increase interventions. I did not stay at home very long because I thought I needed to go to the hospital once my contractions were so-and-so apart. WRONG. If I were to give any advice regarding stages of beginning labor, it would be to keep your ass at home for as long as you (comfortably) can!
Labor in water, if possible
There’s just something about water when you’re rolling through waves of contractions. I literally had to be forced out of the hospital tub to be intermittently monitored during labor. It was that good. You’ll find your element and when you do, stick with it! My thing was getting hot water sprayed on my belly as I was visualizing and swaying my hips in the water. Uh-mazing.
Don’t be afraid to vocalize and visualize
I don’t mean scream how much from the pain you’re feeling like in the movies! I’m talking about humming in rhythm, breathing loudly and intently, and especially letting others know what you need/don’t need. Visualizing my baby’s face in my mind greatly helped me cope with the contractions. Visualize whatever helps you get through each wave.
… your body and your baby. If you feel like you’ve literally given all you’ve got, then trust your team (birth partner, midwife, doula) because they’re there to make sure you get a healthy baby.
– Rebozo: this neat little trick helped Humnoy to crown after pushing for a few minutes. I pulled on it while my husband/doula supported my weight as I was in the sitting up position.
– You may not want to eat or drink during labor! I sure didn’t!
– Slow dancing with your birth partner is a sweet and helpful way to cope through a contraction.
– Everybody poops! See: Why Asian Moms Are Sucky Doulas
What is your helpful advice to an expectant mother wanting to have a natural birth in the hospital?