How to Have an Empowering Birth Experience at a Hospital
I’ve been a doula for over 23 years now, and no matter how many times I get to witness a birth, it’s an honor to see such a miracle take place. Over the years, and around 1,000 births later, as you can imagine, I’ve seen it all! I’ve seen the most beautiful births, but I’ve also seen things that break my heart. And by those things I mean the instances in which my clients choices were dismissed, treated without respect, and made to feel disempowered.
Let me be clear: I’m not saying doctors are bad. In fact, I work with doctors and in hospitals and feel very blessed to work with some care providers that are invested in their clients’ wellbeing and respect the process of birth. But sadly, there are others out there with their own agenda that would rather control and do what they want instead of honoring the mama’s wishes.
Ladies, you will remember your birth for the rest of your life and it will imprint on your child. My hope in writing this is that you know your options and feel supported, heard, and empowered. I want you to have the best shot of a beautiful outcome wherever and however you choose to birth your baby or how your baby chooses to come into this world.
When I first start working with someone I always ask them if they’ve thought about how they’d like to birth. The reason I ask this early on is because you’ll want your care provider and place of birth to be supportive of your intentions. I use the word “intentions" because it offers more room for flexibility and change, whereas “plans” are more set in stone and can cause rigidity and one to be over-controlling. This creates a foundation for research where you can learn more through books, classes, etc.
RESEARCH CARE PROVIDERS AND HOSPITALS
A great place to start is by asking like-minded friends or family members that have had positive birthing experiences. Ask them all the questions! I encourage you to find out who they used as a care provider, where they gave birth, what they liked, and what they didn’t like. The internet is literally at your fingertips and research is easier than ever before. Read Yelp reviews, learn about their cesarean section and induction rates, and chat with a doula for a second opinion (we know who the good ones are). If you like what you see and hear, then it’s worth the consultation, and if not, move on. If you do move forward with a consultation, always come prepared with a list of questions, and always ask them about their own birth and why they became an OBGYN, as it will tell you a lot.
But remember, talk is cheap, and it’s always best to go with your instincts based on how you feel when meeting with a care provider. If you don’t share the same beliefs, it’s most definitely not the best fit. You should feel heard, respected, and never pressured to consider something you never wanted to.
REMEMBER, YOU CAN CHANGE THINGS
As I mentioned before, I’ve seen a lot of things. One of the most striking examples being a doctor asking a patient why she would “ruin” her body giving birth naturally for her second child, after opting for a C-section with her first-born breech twins. “The hospital doesn’t really like to do VBAC's which means I have to be on call,” I recall them saying. Needless to say, my client left upset and feeling deflated. BUT, the good news is that you can change things and she made the decision to switch care providers at 40-weeks for someone who aligned with her beliefs. By the way, the birth turned out beautifully and she was over the moon ecstatic! This is your decision to make!
CREATE A LIST OF BIRTH PREFERENCES
A birth preference is different than your birth intentions. It’s a way to educate yourself on the choices you have at the hospital, and you have a lot. It’s a clear and concise way on how you’d like your birth to be handled and how you’d like both you and your baby to be treated.
FOLLOW THE BRAIN METHOD
If you're in labor, and you’re at the hospital having a bunch of suggestions being thrown your way I want you to remember the BRAIN method.
B– What are the Benefits?
R-What are the Risks?
A-What are the Alternatives?
I-What does my Intuition say?
N– What if we did Nothing?
After asking and checking in with yourself, ask if you can have a few minutes alone to talk about it with your partner and/or doula and then let them know your decision.
Birth is karmic and you can do everything in your power to set up for success, but sometimes things don’t go as planned. Have a list of backup birth plans written out in case you need an induction or C-section and want to feel more covered.
GET YOUR PARTNER INVOLVED
Learn, research, take classes together, and share what you’ve learned with each other. Tell them your wishes, fears, and birth intentions. Go over and create the birth plan together. Let them be your rock, and get on the same page before this new chapter of your lives begins.
Take a birthing class or online program outside of the hospital! Knowledge is power and if you don’t know your options you wont have any. Most hospital classes teach you their way and protocols when there is actually so much more to learn beyond the limited and very controlled content they teach. I have my Mindful Mom-To-Be 12-week Virtual Group Coaching program starting September 13 2022. Check out my Online Programs to learn more and sign up!
By definition, informed consent is permission granted in the knowledge of the possible consequences, typically given by a patient to a doctor for treatment with full knowledge of the possible risks and benefits. Your care provider can always suggest something but you always have informed consent and can refuse. Remember to use the BRAIN method, feel things out, and discuss with your partner before making any important decisions.
If you’re really looking for extra help, hire a doula either in-person or virtually. What can I say–we doulas are amazing! We’re your advocates, cheerleaders, and are here to support, and educate you throughout your pregnancy, during your birth, and afterward. All in all, your birthing experience should be beautiful, peaceful, and all yours.
Eat, rest, hydrate, move, and repeat. You wouldn’t run a marathon on no food, water or sleep would you? Pace yourself, rest until you can’t and then rest some more. When you can’t anymore remember motion is the lotion so move around in different positions and use gravity. Hydrate like crazy-our Seedlyfe Prenatal with Electrolytes will give you energy, stamina, and hydrate you. You can even make ice cubes out of it and suck on those during labor; as birthing women for some reason love eating ice. You can also pre-make a smoothie with Seedlyfe Pregnancy or New Mom Smoothie Blend added to keep you nourished!
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