As a local birth doula, I’ve attended many hospital births. I also had wonderful hospital birth experiences for both of my boys. There are many things you can do ahead of time to make the most of your hospital birth experience. I want to share a few ideas you may not think of:
- Select Your Healthcare Provider Carefully. Be sure to ask a lot of questions in your first few appointments, and also as you get closer to your estimated due date. A doctor or midwife your sister or friend had a great experience with may not be the best fit for you and your birth goals. You have a right to switch providers at any point in your pregnancy if they aren’t going to be a good fit for you. Does your doctor/midwife want you to labor in bed? Be hooked up to the monitors continuously? Are you able to snack throughout labor? What are their timelines and policies regarding inductions?
- Choose the hospital that best fits your goals. We are so lucky to have multiple hospitals to choose from in Central Iowa. Think about what’s most important to you and find a place that matches your goals. What is your hospital’s cesarean rate? Are mom and baby ever separated after birth? Will you be supported by a nurse at all times or will they be caring for other patients as well? Will you be able to move around, use the tub, and have support people with you?
- Take a childbirth class. Your baby’s birth is a very important day in your life, and knowing what is happening to your body and baby’s body can help you better understand the experience. What is the purpose of contractions? What types of pain relief (medical and natural) are available? There are numerous options in our area for childbirth classes including hospital or private birth classes, longer sessions or one day sessions too.
- Expect “curveballs”. This is a term I frequently use with my clients. Almost every birth has some type of unexpected event, a “curveball”. This might be baby’s heart rate not acting normal, mother’s blood pressure is elevating, “stalled labor”, or back labor. What will you do? Learn how to ask good questions to help you be better informed about your options. Check out these informed consent/denial questions. Better yet, print them out and pack them in your hospital bag!
|B- Benefits: What are the benefits?
R-Risks: What are the risks?
A-Alternatives: Are there any alternatives?
I-Intuition: What does my intuition tell me?
N-Nothing: What happens if we do nothing? (or wait a few hours)
- Practice for labor. Many mothers enjoy laboring in different positions, using a birth ball, relaxing in a tub, or listening to a playlist during labor. Be sure to practice these relaxation techniques at home many times before labor. For example, if you’ve never spent time bouncing or leaning on a birth ball prior to labor, it’s probably going to feel weird and uncomfortable to you when you are in labor.
- Be well rested. It’s important to be as rested as possible—labor is a physically demanding job our bodies go through! Eat well, stay hydrated, and sleep as much as possible before your baby’s arrival.
- Hire a doula! Doulas are there to ensure your baby’s birth experience is as great as possible. We recognize birth as a major event in your life and want it to be a wonderful experience, no matter your goals. All studies show that doulas help reduce your chances of Cesarean birth and other medical procedures, as well as improve the overall birth experience, mother/baby bonding, and breastfeeding success. We can help you prepare for the best possible birth for you, your baby, and your family!
Guest post provided by: Katie Nyberg, CD(DONA) – Katie is an Internationally Certified DONA Birth Doula serving mothers in the Des Moines area, Ames, and Central Iowa. She has attended over 70 births for families desiring both hospital and home births. Katie is a state-licensed educator and enjoys teaching families about healthy birth options through local one-day classes. She is an active member of the Central Iowa Doula Association and enjoys her work with the Young Women’s Resource Center in Des Moines. She loves spending time with her two boys, husband, and labradoodle. Find out more about Katie at: www.katiedoula.com & www.facebook.com/katiesdoulacare. Visit katiedoula.com more information about upcoming one-day childbirth classes in the Des Moines area.