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Natural Homebirth Tips
Though most families I work with are planning homebirth, I wanted to share some ideas for those who find themselves with a hospital birth for any reason, whether by personal choice or in case of a transfer.
When asked to give the most important piece of advice about being prepared for a hospital birth, I would say it's important to know what requests you actually need to have written out and then have multiple copies of those requests in your birth bag.
Throughout your pregnancy, you have probably spent most of your prenatal visits with your primary prenatal care provider and he or she may be well aware of your requests and choices by the time your birth arrives, but most hospital structures don't ensure your care provider will be on call when you go into labor.
On top of that, much of your labor and the time just after birth will be supported by the nursing staff. Now, I know many, many amazing nurses and all of the men and women I know who chose to become nurses did so because they love to help people, make them feel comfortable and at ease, but I have also heard stories of nurses who were not supportive of the expectant parents wishes and that made for difficult and stressful situations at a time when you want to avoid stress as much as possible.
Your best piece of support will be learning to be in control of your birth and a written document with only the most essential needs that you have organized with your primary care provider to help increase the nursing staff's openness to your choices.
In order to create a document that is the most effective and respected, it is important to keep it focused on the necessary pieces of information. Most hospitals will have their routine procedures and policies available, and you can ask for clarification on anything specific you have concerns about, such as the availability of intermittent fetal monitoring for mobility, their policy on eating and drinking in labor, or whether they routinely place your baby placed on your chest immediately after birth or do they still take assessments first.
Anything in their routine policies and procedures that is already aligned with your wishes, you can leave out of your written document. Your requests are more likely to be read and respected if it is limited to things that might be specific to your birth vision and are not already routine in their approach to care.
Keep it positive and focus on things you do want rather than what you don't want, for example: "I would like to have maximum mobility during my labor and prefer mobile or intermittent monitoring" rather than "I don't want to be limited in my ability to be mobile in labor".
Birth plans can be overwhelming and birth templates don't really help because they cover just about everything that isn't important in birth today! In our childbirth courses, instead of a birth plan, we walk our expectant homebirth parents through a program to create a vision and experience they would like to have for their birth rather than a strict plan. This helps them to stay focused on what is truly important for their birth rather than get caught up in procedures that may not be relevant to their birth anyway. By using the vision they have written out and the knowledge of their birth compass, they are able to lead their birth team and communicate in a way that helps the expectant parents and the birth team work together to make the best birth experience possible.
To help you answer the most important questions about your birth, we have created a free guide with a list of essential questions to discuss with your care provider. Be sure to download it before you go.
In summary, when having your baby in a hospital, be prepared with a written list of your essential requests and keep it positive with the support you do want, rather than what you don't want. Do a little work up front to understand your hospital's routine policies and procedures and leave out anything that is unnecessary and not unique to your labor. Discuss your requests with your doctor and have him or her help you ensure it is acknowledged by the other staff members that may be attending your birth to make it as easy as possible when you arrive at the hospital for your birth. Doing a little preparation beforehand will help reduce your stress in the moment when you want to be focused on other important things!
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