By Liz Derry, CPM, LM, birth doula
Before the Hospital
- Do your homework.
- Research the hospitals in the area and their common birth practices. Do they have portable monitors for the laboring mother? Do they have squat bars available for pushing? Do they have birth balls available? What is the c-section rate? How often do they use Pitocin or other medications to induce or augment labor? Do they allow family members in the room for the labor and birth? Is there a limit to the number of family members. What is the nurse to patient ratio for the labor nurses. What is the experience of other people you know who have attempted a natural/ un-medicated childbirth
- Research your care provider. How many other doctors are in his/her practice? What is the likelihood that he/she will be at your birth if you go into labor on your own? Are the other doctor(s) in the practice also friendly to natural childbirth options. How does your doctor feel about natural childbirth? Will he/she allow mom to go into labor on her own, and how far past the due date will he allow her to go before talking about induction? How does your doctor feel about doulas?
- If possible, Hire a doula. Local Corpus Christi doulas include: Liz Derry with Bay Area Birth (361) 904-6868, Aislynn Campbell (361)538-3373, and Cassie Soule (361) 446-1721
- Avoid Induction if at all possible. Ask your care provider early on in your pregnancy how far past your due date he/she is comfortable with you going. It is important that he/she is supportive of your choice to let baby come when he/she is ready. Remember, that even if the doctor is pushing for an induction, provided your baby is doing well, you still have the choice to refuse induction. ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) describes post date pregnancy as beyond 42 weeks gestation.
- Labor at home as long as possible. At home, Mom is able to move about freely, eat and drink to comfort, has only loved ones around, and is not restrained by tubes, wires and monitors. Mom will be most comfortable laboring at home. Labor at home until contractions are consistently 3 minutes apart (lasting 60 seconds or more) and starting to get a little closer, or, if you live 30 minutes or more away from the hospital, are consistently 3-4 min apart. If mom starts showing other signs of transition, such as self-doubt, nausea/vomiting, head in to the hospital immediately.
After You Arrive At the Hospital
- Get the nurse on your side. Be nice to the nurse. Ask her for her help. Thank her for everything she does. Praise her when she has done things well or gone out of her way. Instead of saying things like: We want the baby with us at all times. We want delayed cord clamping, etc. Try saying: we were really hoping if everything is ok to keep baby in mom’s arms for the first hour after birth. Could you talk to the other staff and help us make that happen? We have talked to our doctor ahead of time about delayed cord clamping, but were hoping you might be able to help us by reminding him prior to delivery that that is our desire? We really want to have an un-medicated birth. Anything you can do to help us with that would be wonderful!
- Get out of bed. Even with the monitors on, you can typically do things like sit on a birth ball, stand or walk at the side of the bed, sit in a chair beside the bed, kneel in bed and lean over the edge or over the ball.
- Go to the bathroom frequently. This gives you an opportunity to get out of bed more, and move around as much as possible. Ask the nurse to show you how to connect and disconnect the monitor to go to the bathroom and ask if it is ok if you do it yourself.
- Get permission to eat and drink from your doctor ahead of time if possible, and if not at least ask the nurse to get the ok for clear liquids while you are laboring. You need them for energy.
- Ask for a heplock (a small plastic tube left in your vein and secured in place) for your IV instead of continuous IV fluids if at all possible. This will give you more freedom of movement.