Natural Childbirth in a Hospital Setting

Communication Is Key!

Here are four steps for achieving your natural birth goals:

1. Try to be understanding of your physician and the hospital staff.

You may be frustrated if your health care team is not as researched on natural birth as you have become, but try to keep a few things in your mind when dealing with healthcare professionals. First, remember that they are the licensed medical professionals who are extensively trained in the area of birth. Yes, they are the experts, but you should remind yourself (silently!) that they aren’t trained in “natural birth”, and many have not even seen a “natural”  birth without medication, augmentation, or intervention. Secondly, understand that your obstetrician/nurse is probably not accustomed to patients who disagree with them or who bring in new information, and they may not appreciate all your well meant “suggestions” for how they can change. And lastly, remember that they are providing healthcare in what seems to them to be the best way. Please remember that if he or she suggests something, it is because they want to protect you and your child using the knowledge, training, and experience they have. (But the fact remains that at any time, you have the refuse any treatments because you are in control of your options and your choices for your birth, and because you are ultimately responsible for the safety and well-being of yourself and your child.)

2. Pick your fights.

Don’t fight for a million unrealistic expectations; you are giving birth in a hospital, after all. Only fight the big battles, and compromising on small will gain you more leeway on the big issues. Try to prioritize things in your mind–decide what’s your biggest issue, and make sure you get that one first. Then, move down the list. Decide what is your second biggest issue, and then talk about that one at your prenatal appointments. Then, the third…

3. Be sweet.

You won’t win any help from the nurses or doctor if you have an attitude. Set high expectations for them to live up to by saying, “Oh, we’ve heard such GREAT THINGS about [hospital/doctor/practice] and hope to have that great birth experience for ourselves, too!” Say thank you while also getting your point across by saying, “Oh, thank you SO MUCH [‘for trying to accommodate us by…’ or ‘for working with us on the [whatever] issue’] because it means so much to us to have [whatever].” And remember to call your physician and nurse by his/her name and even try to ask about their day, their hobbies, or their families; I know it sounds silly, but the more they like you as an individual, then the more they will try to accommodate you if at all possible.

4. But don’t be too sweet.

Preparing for your birth by not wanting to “offend the doctor” or “cause a scene” will not work! You need to have an attitude that you are an educated, mature, and rational decision-maker who is in control of her body and her baby at all times! In America and in Alabama, you have the right to give birth to your child anywhere and in any manner which you choose–a hospital and/or a physician is only an expert medical adviser to you, the patient in his care. No one has control over your body, and no one can touch you without your consent (that’s called “ASSAULT”).   And if your health care providers are also mature and rational, then they understand and will respect (but maybe not agree or understand) if any patient says “I do not consent”, “I refuse”, or “I choose to do [whatever] against your medical advice”. This isn’t hurting their feelings! Some people like mayonnaise but no tomato, and some people refuse an induction until 42 weeks–no big deal.  Also, you aren’t here to be their friend, and who cares what their opinion is of you? They won’t remember you or your birth, but you will remember the details of your birth forever! Make sure you don’t let them ruin or taint your experience because you were afraid to stand up for your preferences.

5. Be well prepared for your birth.

Take childbirth classes individual of the hospital’s classes, read as much as you can, watch all the documentaries, and talk to mom’s who have given birth in this area. What problems do you think you might encounter? Are you prepared for those situations? Do your research on as many birth complications and diagnoses as you can, so that you won’t be struggling to make decisions in a stressful situation. Have a qualified care person with you who is experienced and trained in natural birth, and talk things out with your physician as much as you can before you go into labor.

In conclusion, doctors and nurses are the qualified medical experts you’ve hired for their professional advice, but you are always allowed to disagree with their expert opinion–that’s the meaning of informed consent. You must be informed of any suggested course of action, any alternatives, all risks and side effects, and any benefits, and you are free to agree or disagree with your physician’s advice. Be prepared as much as you can beforehand. The number of disagreements you have will probably depend on what your priorities are, how delicately can you word requests without affronting anyone’s ego, and how much you are comfortable with asking them to do things differently.

This is your body, your birth, and your baby. You are an autonomous individual who is free to consent to healthcare or to decline healthcare. If your research leads you into a disagreement with your health care provider, the disagreement will need to be documented with an “Against Medical Advice” liability waiver, which releases your health care provider from responsibility of your actions. (This is not to be done lightly or without much research and care.) You are in control of your birth whether you feel like it or not, and you are the only one who is responsible for all of your choices. Good luck! Contact us if you have any questions!