3 Easy Steps to Enjoying Your Hospital Birth!

If there were one thing I would tell all women who are delivering their babies at a hospital it would be that knowing how to communicate with the staff will have the biggest impact on the satisfaction of your birth experience.

Many women spend a large part of their pregnancies figuring out what they want and don’t want their hospital birth experience to be like. They are continually bombarded with stories from their peers depicting the horrors of childbirth and of hospitals. These stories create anxiety and expectations that don’t need to exist.

In most cases if women walk into the hospital on the defensive and with a 10 page list of all of the things they don’t want to experience while laboring and delivering their baby they are going to be creating the very tension and experiences they are trying to avoid. Why? Because the hospital staff want to be respected for the thousands of hours they’ve spent helping women deliver babies. Hospital staff who feel respected are much more likely to allow you to have exactly the birth you want.

So the question now becomes, how do you show respect to the hospital staff without giving up the vision you have of the way you want your birth to be? Here are three steps you can take to accomplish this:

STEP 1: Show up with an attitude of appreciation.

Don’t underestimate first impressions, nurses work with thousands of women and often make judgements about what kind of person they are dealing with in the first interaction. If they think you are going to be confrontational you are far less likely to get what you want. This goes for your partner as well as you. Be polite and respectful, just as you’d want to be treated if someone walked into your office or workplace.

STEP 2: Know the right questions to ask your OB or Midwife BEFORE you show up to the hospital and get the permission you need to do the things you want to do.

Don’t wait until you get to the hospital and hand your birth plan to the nurse to go over your desires with your health care provider. For example: Although this is changing, it is still common for women to get put into bed as soon as they arrive at the hospital to be monitored for about 20 minutes (or longer if there is a need) and then left in bed to labor with the monitors in place. Although it is easier for the nurses to keep an eye on babies this way, it can be much more uncomfortable for a laboring woman to be in bed than upright standing or sitting on a ball or rocking chair. It is also typically less advantageous for the progression of labor. If a woman tells her doctor ahead of time that she would like to be mobile and labor out of bed after the initial monitoring, the woman can write in her (short 1 page) birth plan that she has gotten permission from her doctor to labor out of bed and all confrontation is avoided.

The same is true for many other circumstances such as IV’s. If a woman doesn’t want an IV unless absolutely necessary and has this conversation with her health care provider ahead of time, getting their consent, she can write in her birth plan “My doctor and I have discussed that I don’t need an IV unless absolutely necessary.” This eliminates a need for a discussion about it that can end up feeling adversarial.

The other benefit of discussing these things with your health care provider ahead of time is that you will quickly find out if their beliefs and views about your choices match up. If they are unwilling to entertain your ideas you might want to consider finding someone you philosophically connect with more. Take a childbirth class so you can know what questions to ask!

STEP 3. When writing your birth plan , keep it simple and to the point and try not to go over one page.

Again the first thing a nurse will have to assess your personality is what is written in your birth plan, and more importantly HOW it is written. Show respect from the beginning by starting out your birth plan with a statement thanking them in advance for the support they are going to provide you. The birth plan should be full of please and thank you’s and short!

Having a positive birth experience at a hospital can absolutely be done! Take these steps to increase your chances and enjoy your birth.

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