Empowering Your Hospital Birth.

Image used with permission – Ina Boteva

There’s a lot of talk circulating about hospital policies and Ob/Gyn’s who disempower birthing people rather than empower them. Let’s face it, this is sometimes true. However, home or birth center birth is not an option for everyone, and as a labor and delivery nurse, I know firsthand that beautiful and empowering hospital births are possible. Below are a few simple tips on empowering your hospital birth.

Interview your provider.

You do not have to choose the first Ob/Gyn or Midwife you meet. If possible, I highly recommend researching birth care providers in your area before becoming pregnant. However, I know this isn’t realistic for everyone. So tap into your resources. Ask your friends, family, neighbors, community facebook groups, etc. for suggestions. Unless you live in an OB dead zone, you have options!

Make a birth preferences list.

Birth plans can be tricky. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve taken care of who have had their births not go as planned and how deeply disappointed they felt. I suggest you make a birth preferences list that can be amended, if necessary. There are hospital policies that nurses, midwives, and doctors must adhere to. Therefore, it can be hard in the hospital to abide by strict birth plans. For example, writing “I do not want a c-section” on your birth plan does not mean you won’t have a c-section. But writing out preferences that may help to prevent the cascade of interventions that can sometimes lead to a c-section might be more beneficial.

Consider going into labor naturally.

Inductions are great if they are medically necessary. Sometimes, in the case of uncontrolled maternal illness (e.g., diabetes or high blood pressure), delivering the baby sooner than later is the safest thing to do. However, if you can let your body get to the point where you go into labor on your own, you may just avoid the additional medications and interventions that occur during routine inductions, and, therefore, not require as much monitoring as someone not having physiologic labor and birth.

If you are considering an induction, check out this article for tips on what to ask before scheduling your induction.

Carefully curate your birth team.

In addition to choosing a provider who will support and empower you, think about who else you want to be in the delivery room. And, for the love of god, hire a doula! We know that people who birth with doula assistance statistically have lower rates of pre-term delivery, low birth weight, very low birth weight, c-sections, and a higher initiation of breastfeeding than people who birth without doulas.

I fully understand that doula support isn’t always financially feasible. Some doulas may consider bartering or trading services with you. But if you cannot find that, consider other people in your life who you may want to invite to your birth. Do you have a cousin who is passionate about birth who would be a good birth coach? Do you have a friend with a calming presence? Does your partner give really good massages? Does your mom know how to calm you down and distract you in a good way? Being empowered not only means being able to speak up for yourself in the presence of healthcare providers, it also means speaking up to friends and family members, too. No one feels more entitled to attend a birth than grandparents of the baby.

If your empowered birth just looks like you and your partner in the delivery room, that’s ok, too!

This information should not be used in place of medical advice. 

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