For many women who want an unhindered birth, hospitals are the only available venue, and hospitals have very low unmedicated birth rates. Birth really matters to women because they want to welcome their babies with love and joy, so creating a good birth is really important!
In order to ensure that all women are treated equally within an institution certain things are mandatory for staff, however they are not mandatory for women. Staff are obliged to offer everything they have (would you like fries with that?) but women are well within their legal rights to decline (no, thank you, a cheeseburger is enough). Some staff can become quite pushy about things if women decline them, and no one wants a confrontation. So here are three suggestions to help remind staff that you are the one who makes the rules about your body, hopefully in a way that avoids confrontation.
Don’t Wear The Hospital Gown: Wear your own clothes. An oversized t-shirt, a nightie, no clothes at all. Wear something that is yours, something that doesn’t stamp you as Property Of The Hospital, something you’re familiar with, something that makes it easy for you to move about freely! One of the biggest benefits of wearing your own clothes is that they look much nicer in the birth photos.
Tip: They will probably give you a gown and ask you to put it on. If this happens, just smile and say thank you. Providing you with it is their job so just accept it politely and don’t change out of your chosen clothing. If they complain about it just tell them you’re allergic to industrial laundry detergent.
Don’t Get On The Bed: It might make it easier for the staff if you’re on the bed, but being upright makes it easier for you and your baby. Take cushions, use the hospital pillows, take a thick duvet with your favourite quilt cover, use your yoga ball, and stay off the bed! Anything that is really important can be done wherever you are. They wouldn’t refuse treatment for a heart attack patient because they weren’t on the bed, so they can surely cope with a pregnant woman kneeling over a yoga ball surrounded by a pile of pillows.
Tip: If they ask you to climb on the bed just say “Thanks for your suggestion but I prefer to stay here, it makes my labour more manageable”. The sheets are washed with industrial laundry detergent, you are probably allergic to that too *wink wink*
Have A Solid Birth Plan And Good Support: Although a doula can not advocate for you or negotiate things with the hospital staff, she can support you and your husband while YOU negotiate. Read up on Non Violent Communication and ensure that your support team is well versed on how it works because it provides some great ways to avoid confrontation in the majority of situations.
Tip: Don’t alter your birth plan for the comfort of others, the only reason to alter your birth plan is if your health requires changes. Your make your birth plan for the benefit of your baby and your baby needs you to be their advocate! For this reason you need to know your birth plan inside out, know the pros and cons of every intervention and protocol that a hospital has (you can usually find their protocol on their website, or just ring up and ask to have it sent out to you in the post) Make sure that everyone who intends to be present with you at your birth knows your plan and the reasoning behind it as well. You may need them to remind you about it somewhere along the way!
Stay home as long as possible: If you’re wanting to give birth without unnecessary medical interventions, you should knuckle down and labour at home for as long as you can. The longer you spend in the hospital, the more things you’ll have to refuse, the more things you refuse, the more worn down you get. The more worn down you get, the more vulnerable you are, and this is especially true of birth. As labour progresses you become less able to negotiate, and interruptions become more irritating. Interruptions in early labour can even cause labour to stall, and then you’re bound to be offered interventions to get things going at a pace more accepted by the hospital. Remember hospitals are really good at what they do, they’re like a well oiled machine. What they do is lots of stuff to women who are in labour, so if you don’t want or need lots of stuff done to you, stay home!
Tip: Stay well hydrated and nourished, and rest as much as you possibly can in the early stages of labour. The more tired you get the more you’re likely to want the relief of drugs. Being rested, nourished, and hydrated also helps your body work more efficiently.
If you are anticipating a real fight during your birth is pays to consider all options before settling on a hostile venue, the nature of birth requires you to feel safe. You need to avoid hostility for birth to run smoothly, not just because you don’t like arguing with people. Research midwifery care and the venues where it is available, research the guidelines any potential midwives practice under and how they match up to your philosophy on birth.
If hospital birth remains your first preference, or only option after thorough research, and you are seeking a natural birth, plan well. Leave nothing to chance, because health is a chance in itself, so everything else should be planned. It is possible to achieve a vaginal birth without medication in a hospital, it’s rare but possible. Those that succeed are very competent negotiators, well supported, and are fully informed about normal birth and interventions. They know how to tell the difference between a necessary intervention and a hospital protocol, and they aren’t afraid to question everything. Remember there’s a very big difference between asking questions, being assertive, and being rude. It’s perfectly possible to be assertive without being rude!
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