By Jaimie, Contributing Writer
Yes, you CAN have a (mostly) natural birth in a hospital. It might be easier to avoid medical interventions in a birthing center or at home, but if circumstances require you to give birth in a hospital, don’t give up your hopes for a natural birth.
This was my situation: the nearest birth center was too far away, and since it was my first baby and in our state midwives can’t legally assist home births, we didn’t want to have a home birth. But after doing just a little bit of research, I knew I didn’t want to go the typical route with drugs and the usual medical interventions. So I did a lot more research and ended up being able to have a mostly natural hospital birth.
How to Have a Natural Hospital Birth
1. Choose a care provider who will help you achieve your natural birth goals.
Before making a decision on an obstetrician, family physician, or midwife (many assist births in hospitals), do your research and interview multiple providers before choosing one. Make an appointment just to talk before you make an actual prenatal appointment. Check out these lists of questions from Growing Slower and Keeper of the Home before you begin your interviews.
2. Know your rights.
Many of the “routine” procedures might be unnecessary for you (the eye drops, for example, are an antibiotic designed to protect babies’ eyes against any sexually transmitted diseases they might pick up from the birth canal. If you know you don’t have any STDs, your baby won’t need the drops).
Others, such as circumcision, are optional and you have the right to refuse them. Some hospitals or doctors might have you sign a waiver if you choose to refuse certain procedures. Just make sure you discuss with your doctor what you do and do not want to be done, well in advance of the birth. Different hospitals and doctors have different policies; find out what your provider and facility require and what they don’t.
This is helpful for a birth in any situation, but especially so when you’re in a hospital! You’ll see several shifts’ worth of nurses, so you’ll want to have information to give all of them. It’s always good to have everyone on the same page.
Go over your birth plan with your care provider several weeks before your due date. You may want to have them sign it as well. Make sure your birth plan includes detailed information on what you do and do not want for both yourself and your baby, before, during, and after labor and birth.
4. Educate yourself thoroughly.
If money and time allow, by all means, take a birthing class such as Bradley, Lamaze or Hypnobirthing. (Do some reading ahead of time to determine which method best fits your needs and personality.)
But whether or not you take a class, take charge of your own education and do plenty of studying and research throughout your pregnancy. Read good books, ask questions of your care provider, and talk to other moms. Knowledge helps get rid of fear, and the more confident you are, the better prepared you’ll be for your birth.
5. Be flexible in case things don’t go as planned.
The birth of my firstborn did not go exactly the way I was hoping. I had to be induced and have my water broken, so all my laboring was done at the hospital instead of mostly at home as I’d planned. My son was born covered with meconium instead of vernix (he was 42 weeks and the vernix was all gone!), so he desperately needed a bath right away and we weren’t able to try nursing as quickly as I wanted. He also had a lot of fluid in his lungs which had to be suctioned out right away. But ultimately, he was healthy and so was I, and I went through all of labor and birth with no pain medication, which was my biggest goal.
6. Determination and commitment go a long way.
If you are totally determined to have a natural birth, and if you have a good birth partner and team (your spouse, a doula, your mother or sister, etc.) who are 100% supportive of you, there is no good reason why you shouldn’t have a natural birth, barring any medical emergencies.
Having a natural hospital birth is possible! Make sure you are well-educated, have a supportive doctor and birth team, and know your rights. You can do this, Mama!!
What have your birth experiences been like? Have you been able to have a natural, or mostly natural hospital birth?
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