How to Make a Hospital Birth a Natural Birth

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Having a natural birth means delivering your baby without medical intervention. You might decide to have a natural birth to feel more involved in the process or to avoid unnecessary drugs and procedures. When you’re having a natural birth, you don’t have to have to your baby at the hospital, but you may decide to use the hospital so you can quickly get medical care in case of emergency.[1] You can have a natural birth in the hospital if you plan ahead and stick to your birth plan. However, check with your doctor to make sure you’re not at risk for complications and agree to medical interventions if you or your baby are at risk.

Arranging Your Natural BirthDownload Article

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    Write a birth plan. The birth of your baby is often one of the most joyful and life-changing experiences of your life. The prospect of childbirth can scare many women and may cause some uncertainty. Thinking about and composing a flexible birth plan can help you and your health care providers develop your natural childbirth in the hospital.[2] Your plan should be about one page and include:[3]
    • Preferences for the birth such as place and positions you’d like to use
    • Your fears and expectations, which you can discuss with your healthcare provider
    • Feelings about pain relief, including if and what type of pain relief you will accept
    • Expectations on fetal monitoring, including what type of fetal monitoring is and isn’t acceptable to you
    • Opinion on episiotomy, including if you will accept it and under what conditions
    • Hydration techniques such as IV, sips of water, or ice chips
    • Clothes you want to wear
    • Media such as music or videos you want to watch as a distraction
    • People you want present
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    Include contingencies for complications to make your wishes clear. Ideally, you want your birth to progress naturally without any problems, but there are sometimes unexpected situations that may require medical intervention to safely deliver your baby and protect your health. Make sure to include your plans for complications. You might want to include:[4]
    • Special wishes if you need a cesarean section
    • Wishes if your baby is breech
    • Feelings about forceps or vacuum-assisted delivery
    • Position on accepting an IV if you are dehydrated or antibiotic IVs if the doctor discovers infection in your amniotic fluid
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    Consult with your healthcare providers to discuss your plans. Most healthcare providers will try to support a woman who wants to have a natural birth, even in a hospital; however, some may have concerns about certain aspects of your birth plan or be unable to accommodate the natural birth in a hospital. Talk to your doctor and any other healthcare providers such as doulas and midwives about your plan, which can help you formulate a more realistic plan or make alternative plans if necessary.[5]
    • Share your birth plan with your healthcare providers and express your desire to have a natural birth in a hospital if possible. Discuss any concerns you may have.
    • Ask for suggestions on your plan and discuss your options so that everyone involved has a clear and realistic idea for your natural birth in the hospital.
    • Find a healthy balance of keeping your plan and respecting your doctor or healthcare provider’s expertise.
    • Consider using a midwife or doula during delivery. Studies have shown that constant support from a trained and experienced woman can make for an easier and more natural delivery.[6] Your doctor may be able to suggest a registered nurse, midwife, or doula with whom she works.
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    Tour potential hospitals to choose where you want to give birth. If you’ve discussed or chosen a healthcare professional based on their support for your natural delivery, ask them at which hospitals they allowed to attend deliveries. This ensures that your providers can attend the birth and navigate interactions with other hospital staff while accommodating your wishes as much as possible.[7]
    • Ask your doctor to suggest hospitals that offer birth centers or a natural setting and in which your doctor and any other healthcare providers are allowed to practice.
    • Visit different facilities to see what resources they offer. Look for tubs or jacuzzi tubs and birthing balls. Ask whether women are allowed to walk around during labor and what their policy is on being allowed to eat while in labor. Make notes on each so that you can remember while making your final decision on where to deliver.
    • Let the hospital know about the birth plan you’ve written and see how they can accommodate you.
    • Ask the staff at each facility questions about their resources and policies. For instance, you may be interested in doing a water birth, but this may not be allowed or accommodated at your delivery hospital. Make sure you ask the staff about water birth or any other methods you may be interested in.
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    Decide on your birth facility. Once you’ve had a chance to tour a few different hospitals, make a final decision on where you’d like to deliver your baby. Consult your notes from the tours, your feelings, and any advice your doctor may have given you. Some of the factors you may want to consider are:[8] [9]
    • The atmosphere. Did it make you feel relaxed, warm, and comfortable?
    • The option to return home shortly after the birth
    • The staff. Are there obstetricians, nurse-midwives, doulas, or direct-entry midwives available?
    • The hospital’s construction. Is there a birth center and are the rooms set up to be as comfortable as your home?
    • The resources. Are facilities available if you decide you want pain medication or there is an emergency?
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    Revise your birth plan if you want to make changes. You may want to change your birth plan after you’ve chosen a hospital and as you get closer to delivery. This can help ensure that you take advantage of any resources your hospital offers and may prevent unexpected surprises.
    • Attend any prenatal or childbirth education programs your hospital offers.[10]
    • Consider using bathtubs or trying natural birth methods such as Bradley, Lamaze, water delivery (if allowed), or the Alexander Technique.[11]

Sticking to Your Birth PlanDownload Article

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    Pack a bag ahead of time. Look at your birth plan and see what you items you need to help make your delivery as comfortable as possible. Make sure to pack a bag a few weeks before your delivery in case you go into labor early. Some items you might want to have are:[12]
    • A copy of your birth plan
    • Music, videos, or reading material
    • Comfortable clothing and footwear
    • Scented lotion or massage oil
    • Pillows
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    Provide copies of your birth plan to everyone involved in the birth. Once you’ve finalized your birth plan and your due date approaches, give a copy of it to anyone who will be involved in the birth.[13] This can help ensure that everyone involved in your birth understands your wishes and can accommodate them and any emergencies in a manner you like.
    • Let your healthcare providers know you want as natural a birth as possible in the hospital.
    • Make sure family members have copies of your plan, too. Even if you don’t want them in the delivery room, it may be good for them to have an idea of your wishes so they can be your advocates during your delivery.
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    Meet with your doctor and birth attendant before you go into labor. If you have a nurse midwife or physician scheduled to deliver your baby, suggest that your doula or birth advocate meet her prior to the delivery. This gives you all a chance to discuss any expectations or particulars about your delivery and can prevent conflict or tension when you are in labor.
    • This can be an important step if you chose a doula or birth attendant who hasn’t met your doctor or healthcare provider.
    • Ask your advocate to help defend your decisions during delivery as long as they maintain the safety of you and your baby. This can prevent interruptions during your labor and after birth and keep medical staff interferences to a minimum.[14]
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    Remind the hospital staff of your wishes when you’re admitted. As you enter the hospital to give birth, remind the staff that you’ve planned a natural birth. Some facilities immediately begin physical checks and examinations to determine the progression of labor simply through habit and may forget or not know your wishes.
    • Be aware that if you are considered high-risk, you may require examinations or other procedures that aren’t a part of your plan.
    • Let your doula or midwife advocate for you if they meet you at the hospital or as soon as they arrive.[15]
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    Be confident and flexible during delivery. Stay confident and decisive about sticking to your plan for a natural birth; however, remember to be flexible for contingencies like extreme pain or danger to your baby.[16]
    • Reiterate your desire for no interference unless absolutely necessary.
    • Stay mobile if you prefer. Take walks around the hospital ward, take a bath or shower, practice breathing or stretching techniques or anything that makes you feel comfortable.
    • Consider asking for privacy until you feel comfortable moving or being examined if this helps you.
    • Deliver in a position that makes you feel best. Some women may find that active delivery positions are more comfortable, while others may prefer to lay back or sit down during childbirth. Request to change your position to ease yourself through the process as much as possible.[17]

When to Seek Medical CareDownload Article

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    Consult your doctor to find out if your pregnancy may be high-risk. If you’re at a higher risk for complications, your doctor will consider your pregnancy high-risk. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a natural birth, but it may mean you need extra monitoring and could need medical interventions. Talk to your doctor to understand your unique needs and to figure out how you can best plan for your wishes.[18]
    • If you feel like your doctor isn’t listening to you, seek a second opinion from another doctor.
    • Your doctor can help you figure out what kinds of contingencies you need to include in your birth plan if you’re at a higher risk.
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    Agree to medical interventions if you develop delivery complications. While you hope for an easy birth, sometimes unexpected complications can happen. Fortunately, your medical team will be prepared to handle anything that happens. Let your doctor help you make the best decision for your delivery, which may include a medical procedure to help you deliver safely.[19]
    • Since you’re having a natural birth in a hospital, it’ll be easy for the staff to begin a medical intervention if you need it.
    • Your birth advocate can help you make a final decision about what to do.
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    Call your doctor if you have excessive pain or bleeding after delivery. After a vaginal birth, it’s totally normal to be sore and uncomfortable. Additionally, you’ll experience a few weeks of bleeding as your body sheds your uterine lining. However, serious pain and bleeding could be a sign something is wrong. While you don’t need to worry, talk to your doctor to make sure everything is okay.[20]
    • Your vaginal bleeding is considered heavy if you soak through more than 1 pad in an hour.
    • If your pain is accompanied by fever and abdominal tenderness, it’s possible you have an infection that needs medical treatment.

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