Lots of women embark upon a more natural lifestyle when they become pregnant. There is something so magical about creating life and knowing that there is only one “you” who can do this amazing work and who is totally responsible for this new little person.
Pregnancy causes many women to desire a healthier lifestyle and ponder many things for the first time, such as eating organic food, using non-toxic cleaning materials, and choosing natural materials for the nursery.
This usually leads to exploring natural childbirth, the use of a midwife and/or doula, exclusive breastfeeding, questioning whether to circumcise a baby boy or not, and the list goes on… the further you dig the more you realize there are many many more things to consider!
Often times, while researching all of these things, women come across books such as Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care and DVDs like The Business of Being Born, and the next question that arises is where to give birth. In a hospital, birthing center or at home?
I read and researched and watched DVD’s galore and settled on giving birth to my first child in a birthing center that was in a hospital. It was one floor below the labor and delivery floor, and I felt comfortable knowing that medical intervention would not be forced on me but would be readily available if needed.
Alas, my ob didn’t deliver there so I was faced with switching docs or trusting her when she said I could have as natural a childbirth as I’d like to have, just in the hospital.
Once I read all of the things hospitals routinely do, I was armed with a list of things I wanted done differently.
Here is a list of some of the things I did, thought about and decided on before I went into labor which helped me to have two natural childbirths in hospitals:
1. Take a childbirth class taught by a midwife or doula and fully supports unmedicated births and offers natural pain coping techniques.
2. Stay home as long as possible while in labor. I took this a little far with my first child, as I was so nervous about getting to the hospital too soon and having them “mess with me” that I walked to my doctor’s office instead so she could examine me and see how far along I was. She took one look and said, “get to the hospital! You’re dilated to 6 centimeters and you’ll be having this baby soon!”
3. Tell anyone you came into contact with at the hospital your desire to have a natural childbirth. If in any way you feel your nurse is not in line with your wishes, ask for a different nurse!
4. I asked my nurse to do intermittent instead of continuous electronic fetal monitoring. I wanted to hear his heartbeat and feel reassured that he was ok, but I also wanted to be able to walk around, get in and out of the shower, etc.
5. Most hospitals put an IV in a laboring mother pretty soon after you arrive at the hospital. I asked for a “hep lock” instead- so that a vein would be opened in the rare event I needed a blood transfusion, but I wasn’t planning on having anything else going into my body, so I really didn’t want to be saddled with an IV because I wanted to walk the halls of the hospital.
6. I asked my doctor to wait to cut the umbilical cord until after it stopped pulsing. A baby is born with 2/3rds of it’s blood in its body and the rest still in the placenta to make for a smaller package thus an easier trip through the birth canal. If the doctor lets the cord stop pulsing, the rest of the baby’s blood will be transferred back into him.
7. Delay any routine procedures such as weighing, measuring, etc until after you’ve had a chance to bond with your newborn and attempt to breastfeed. There is an amazing period of quiet alertness right after birth where your infant will stare into your eyes and study your face and listen to your voice.
8. Take your own natural and organic baby products to be used on the baby for baby’s first bath, or better yet, skip the bath altogether! Babies aren’t born dirty, and skipping the bath helps them retain their body heat. It also leaves the scent of amniotic fluid on their hands and this is comforting and calming to have access to a familiar smell in this new and crazy world.
What have I missed?