Create a Safe Space.
Hospital birth, in the media is portrayed as something dangerous and scary, something to be afraid of and something where anything and everything could go wrong at a moment’s notice. Honestly, it is sometimes portrayed that way in the more “natural, crunchy” birth world as well.
Here’s the thing about birth in general. It’s been going on for thousands, if not millions of years, depending on what you believe. All species of animals have been giving birth since the dawn of time. The medical industry, however currently advanced, is MUCH newer in time than birth.
Animals have been giving birth in general for 4,000 to 600 million years. Women have been giving birth in hospitals for less than 115 years. Let that sink in. Birthing babies is just something that is done. It’s something every species on earth does in some way, without help, millions of times per day.
That’s not to say that there isn’t some risk in childbirth. Of course there is. There is risk in every single physical act we do every day. There is also much more pure joy and ecstasy in the majority of the physical acts we do every day. If there wasn’t, statistically, we wouldn’t exist. The human race could not be overpopulating the earth the way that it is now if birth was as inherently dangerous as it is made out to be.
So let’s just throw that out the window right now. There are exceptions to every rule, of course and modern medicine is here to help when needed.
Fearing birth, no matter where it happens, is what makes it dangerous and scary. Fear tenses the muscles and interferes with the natural productions of hormones in birth that make everything work automatically and correctly. Eliminating fear is the key to making your Hospital Birth Calm and Gentle.
Being prepared is key. Get your personal birth team together as soon as the stick turns pink. A Doula, a Childbirth Educator, Chiropractor, Massage Therapist and anyone else you feel will give you the tools to make you fearless during birth.
Once you have your birth team in place, decide what exactly you want and don’t want for your birth. Create a Birth Blueprint. Build your beautiful birth that makes you feel safe, warm and protected. Use the knowledge of your birth team to move around some outlets or plumbing as needed and know what happens if you decide to change your mind and knock down a wall. The key is to be educated enough to make changes without fear.
3. Find your safety net.
AFTER you’ve done all of the above, THEN find the provider to watch over you and make sure that medically your plans will be supported. Whether you choose a midwife or an OB for your care during pregnancy, remember that often times they may not be the ones actually attending your birth. Your preparation and planning are important for continuity of care. Deciding who your care providers will be is not JUST about whether they support your plans. You need to also make sure that any other provider from that practice supports you and that the hospital you are attending supports you. The typical protocols for your provider and the protocols at your place of birth may not be the same. Make sure that no matter whom you choose, you will feel safe and supported, even if things need to change.
4. Use Your Support Team
Use your support team to keep you in optimal health, mentally, physically and emotionally. Your chiropractor and massage therapist can help with all of these things. Your educator will teach you the most important things you need to know and your Doula will guide you through every step in the process, providing research for specific issues that come up, being a sounding board and helping you work through your fears and reminding you of all the things you’ve learned along the way.
5. Use Your Tools
At the end of your pregnancy, remember to use the tools you’ve gathered to stay calm and relaxed. Focus on your visualizations, practice your movement and keep in contact with your Doula with non-medical questions and concerns. Your Doula can help ease your mind as your guess date approaches and passes. Your Doula can help you determine the difference between prodromal labor and early labor, give you suggestions on comfort measures and coping techniques and help you decide when to go to the hospital if you are not sure. Your instinct trumps everything. When you KNOW it’s time to go, it’s time to go.
6. Your Birth Plan Matters
At the hospital, make sure that the staff has a copy of your plan and be prepared to speak up for yourself about your choices. Remember that you are the consumer and you are paying for a service. You’ve done your homework, you know what to expect from the hospital and staff and you know your rights. Make sure your partner and family in attendance are prepared to help you get it. Your Doula will facilitate your plans by preparing the room to your specifications, making sure you and your family have all of their comfort needs met, and continuing to make movement and comfort suggestions to keep your birth moving in the direction you’ve chosen.
7. Enjoy the experience.
This is the birth of your child. It is a beautiful, momentous occasion that will have long standing effects on your life into the future. Don’t forget that no matter what direction you choose, no matter whether you have a 100%, unmedicated, vaginal birth, or whether you feel safest with some pain medication and a lot of monitoring, this birth will never happen again. Revel in the beauty of it. You have created your safe space with a calm and gentle approach.
Contributing Author: Jenn Leonard is a Childbirth Educator and Doula in Colorado Springs, CO. She is Co-owner of Colorado Mountain Doula Agency and the doula of choice in Colorado Springs for any of my patients looking to have a calm and gentle birthing experience, whether that’s in the hospital or at home.