With the right knowledge and attitude, you can have a natural birth in a hospital setting. Here’s what Christy learned from her 7 natural hospital births!
By Christy, Contributing Writer
“At the hospital they force you into taking all sorts of drugs, and they sneak things into your baby. I’ve heard real horror stories. That’s why we only birth at home,” said the father of six as we compared stories about our kiddos.
He was relieved (and surprised, poor guy) to hear that I had delivered seven children in five hospitals in two states…all natural. You can, indeed, have a natural birth in a hospital, as my birth stories will show.
No two birth stories are the same. Each of my deliveries was vastly different–natural, but as different as each of my children. That is because people change, places change, your body changes, and you are delivering a different person each time.
My doctors have ranged from the 15-seconds-from-retiring, old school doctor who delivered my first two, to the cool ex-fighter pilot, to the how-on-earth-did-this-man-get-his-medical-degree doctor (the only doc within 70 miles) who delivered my last. Three doctors didn’t even make it in time (and yes, they still received full pay). They are each different.
I’ve had the full gamut of nurses as well, from the kind that practically adopted me to the kind that is totally put out that I wouldn’t follow her prescribed birthing plan or stay in bed to the lady who was so excited that I was having a natural birth that she invited the nursing staff in to watch (with my permission). They are all different.
Finally, after delivering a baby…two babies…seven babies, you change, physically, mentally, emotionally, so you are even different!
One of my favorite birth stories is my third, a small little girl not even seven pounds. Nobody believed me that the baby was coming, and coming fast, but neither she nor I were willing to continue trying to convince them. There’s nothing like a crowned head to make everyone jump into action. Who needs a doctor, anyway!
Two other favorites were the fourth and sixth. I stayed home to labor there as long as possible, then headed to the hospital toward the end. (My labors are always extremely long and I know my body well by this point. I don’t recommend this approach to everyone.) An hour at the hospital and I had babies. One doctor squeaked in, one missed out.
My fifth was extremely different, because–whoa–we had a boy! How’d he sneak into the mix?!
Our seventh baby was born last Thanksgiving. I labored through one of my husband’s concerts, sitting in the second row with a three-year-old on my lap. After the show and break-down, we had a long drive back home over the mountains with our children and some extended family.
Because we had house guests (I thought I would give one of them a heart attack with my nonchalance) and because my husband was already exhausted and would be even more so if I waited until 3 in the morning to ask him to drive me back over the mountains to the hospital, we headed back through the pass much, much earlier than I liked. This gave me a lot of time to repeatedly decline medical intervention, which, admittedly, takes some of the peace out of the process.
Nevertheless, being there earlier in the labor removes the possibility of delivering in the mountain pass in the middle of the night, and it gives a girl plenty of time to make friends with the nurses. Everything has its upside and downside.
No two experiences are the same, and nothing is predictable. Nevertheless, with the right knowledge and attitude, you can have a natural birth in a hospital setting.
There are a few lessons I’ve learned with my variety of hospital experiences that may help you prepare for a more ideal hospital birth.
1. Shifts change, doctors don’t show up, and people don’t always listen.
For that reason, be sure you have someone there who will speak for you when you can’t and if your courage or determination wavers. If your husband can’t or won’t stand up to doctors and nurses to support your wishes, have somebody else on hand, like that girlfriend that won’t let anyone mess with you.
Another option is having a doula or midwife on hand who knows your body and wishes. She can answer questions and be the voice of authoritative reason when you are in the middle of a contraction…because they always ask you the really tough questions in the middle of a huge contraction.
2. Be informed.
Learn in advance all you can about pitocin, epidurals, oxytocin, pain medications, and just about everything else they’ll try to pump into your body. Learn why you might opt for it and when to pass.
A great book to read in preparation for your natural birth is Shannon Brown’s Natural Birth Stories. Not all of the births described take place in a hospital, but it’s very interesting and encouraging to hear different moms’ stories, and the book includes a rundown of various medical terms and interventions you’ll want to know about.
3. Repeat yourself over and over and over and over.
People forget. Don’t let them. It can help to print out a birth plan in advance and share copies with your doctor and nurses, but you’ll still need to remind them of things to make sure you’re all on the same page.
4. Ask about everything.
Why do I need an IV? What is in that bag? Why are you staring at me like I have three heads? Do I have three heads?
5. Regardless of what an occasional nurse might tell you, you have options.
Mama, you do not have to deliver lying down. You do not need to stay strapped to a bed and a baby monitor. You do not need drugs. And no, you do not need to let them break your water! (Sure it speeds it up, but the pain is far worse.) Speak up! Better yet, have your husband or a friend or your mother speak up for you. If you have found a doctor who will listen, tell him in advance that you would like some freedom.
Remember, however, that many doctors have little involvement unless there is a problem or the baby is ready.
6. Keep your baby with you unless there is a medical emergency to be sure your wishes are met.
7. Allow for medical intervention if necessary.
The reason you are in the hospital is in case something goes wrong (and breakfast in bed, naturally). If something doesn’t seem quite right, be willing to turn over the reins to someone who knows more than you. The ultimate goal is a healthy baby and a healthy mama. Keep your mind on that goal.
8. Be nice!
Please! Nothing gives us natural folks a bad name like the arrogant mama-to-be that won’t stop lecturing everybody about the downside to everything. That mama needs to remember that there is a good side to many things as well, and that she does not know everything. Finally, she must remember that if something goes terribly, terribly wrong, those people she is belittling are the folks that will be trying to save her life. Personally, I try to make friends with those people, making them want to try a little bit harder.
9. Keep it in perspective.
So you ended up with a C-section or a vacuum extraction or an epidural or an episiotomy or pitocin or gave in and let them break your water. Did you also end up with a healthy baby? If you did, then your delivery was a success. Don’t dwell on it and replay the regrettable moments in your mind. Hold your baby and focus on this moment and every moment to come. I am audacious enough to state that your relationship with your child over the next 50 years will not be negatively affected by your less-than-ideal birth experience unless you hang on to it.
Hindsight is 20/20. If I were to deliver all my babies over again, I would have stayed home until the last possible minute (hour, actually, since our nearest hospital is an hour away through a mountain pass). I would have walked around more and been monitored less. Also, I would never, ever have let them break my water, because I can totally handle labor with an intact bag. I would make sure to never close my eyes so as not to miss a second. I would sleep as much as possible in the early stages of labor, knowing I would need the strength later on.
Most importantly, I would carry no regrets, because regardless of how my babies got here, they are here, and that is a beautiful thing…no matter what!
Do you have a positive hospital birth experience to share? Have you ever had a natural birth in a hospital?
Christy writes about simplifying life at The Simple Homemaker. Once weighed down by unrealistic expectations and life’s overwhelming demands, Christy has learned to throw off the complications of life and find joy in the little things. Christy and her contemporary Christian musician husband, Stephen Bautista, homeschool their 7 children, ages brand new to 15. The family tours the country for the music mission and works together on a home business.
Check out the other posts in this series HERE!