“I want to have a natural birth, but I still want to be at the hospital. Is that possible?”
As a doula I have been asked that question more than once. Many women desire a natural birth, but feel more comfortable in the security of a hospital setting. A natural hospital birth is not impossible by any means.
There are a few ways you can lay a foundation to create an environment that is advantageous for a natural hospital birth.
Just to be clear- there is no perfect formula to guarantee that you will have a non-medicated or intervention-free birth.
Sometimes pain relief is an excellent tool to avoid other interventions or a cesarean. Interventions were created to help, and when used appropriately, are very beneficial. So if an intervention or c-section is needed at your birth, it is nobody’s fault, and you DID NOT fail.
Laying a foundation for a natural hospital birth includes a few facets; A supportive provider, prenatal preparation, and knowledgeable support.
A Supportive Provider
Finding a provider that encourages and respects your wishes is key.
When searching for a provider ask them questions about their thoughts on natural birth. Ask them how they would support you with these preferences and what you can do to prepare. The ones who were encouraging and gave helpful suggestions are likely to be a better fit. For more detailed guidance on finding your perfect provider, read this helpful article.
Consider a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), if available. The Midwifery Model of Care focuses on birth as a natural process and strives to avoid intervention unless medically necessary. CNM’s have more focused training in positioning and techniques to cope with the processes of labor naturally.
We are fortunate to have an amazing group of Certified Nurse Midwives here in Bellingham. The Peacehealth Nurse Midwives group are currently the only CNM’s with privileges at St. Josephs Hospital in Bellingham.
This group consists of 5 midwives, ensuring that you have a CNM available for your birth 24/7. You meet with, and get to know each of them throughout your prenatal care. You spend more the time with your midwife at each appointment than usually scheduled with OB/GYN groups.
Already have a provider but don’t feel they are a good fit? Don’t be afraid to look into switching to a more supportive provider at any time in your prenatal care.
Knowing what to expect and having tools to handle it is so important in any birth. It is especially important when preparing for a natural birth.
Different techniques are useful for each stage and variation of labor. If you are aware of what stage of labor you are experiencing, and know different positions or comfort measures you can use to help cope, you will feel more confident and at ease.
Taking a Childbirth Education Class is one of the most effective & efficient ways to prepare prenatally.
Life is busy! That is why we have a variety of different birth classes to meet your schedule or needs. Some prefer a group class while others need the flexibility of a private class. A full series is worth the time spent, but we also have a condensed class for those who just simply don’t have the time. Or perhaps you want to build your own custom class. Check out the many classes available to find one that suits you best. The tools gained from attending a childbirth class are worth the investment of time and money.
A prepared and knowledgeable birth partner can help you identify and adapt to each stage of labor. Be sure to have your birth partner attend your childbirth class with you. When in labor you are in a different state of mind, making it more difficult to recall all you learned prenatally. Having someone with you at all times who is clearheaded and prepared will help keep you grounded and on track.
Many times this person is the father of the child, a family member or friend. But more and more families are hiring doulas to give expert support at their birth.
A doula supports the mother and her partner prenatally and in labor to help them feel prepared, confident and comfortable. The doula is with them at the hospital to answer questions, help with positioning, applying comfort measures, and gives realistic expectations about what to expect for where they are at.
A doula’s role is different from a nurse, doctor, or midwife.
Their job is the medical side, and keeping you and your baby safe is their focus. Your nurse, doctor or CNM will be in and out to check on you, but the majority of the time you will be left to labor on your own.
From the time they join you in labor, your doula supports you and your partner. Their focus is your changing physical and emotional needs. Your questions are answered on the spot and you receive hands on care until your baby is born, and things have settled down.
The best part is that doula support is so much more that just our time with you in labor. Explore what else doula support includes here.
I’m not going to sugar coat it. Birth, especially natural birth, is intense. Contractions aint no joke, to say the least.
So if a natural hospital birth is something you desire I really encourage you to do all you can to prepare for the physical and emotional intensity of it. You can do this!
Also, if things need to change, or if you just simply change your plan, this is your unique story and there is no pass or fail.
Molly Seimears is a Certified Doula as well as Certified Childbirth Educator in Bellingham, Washington. She is passionate about providing unbiased support to families in Whatcom County as well as the surrounding areas.