If you're like more than 90 percent of women who've decided on a hospital birth and thought you'd be giving up a natural childbirth environment, read on! Turns out, you can have the safety and expertise found in a hospital setting and the choices and amenities that you might find at a home birth. How, you say?
It turns out, you just have to know what to ask for. And we're not talking about natural as in no pain relief, but rather, a more natural setting in which to welcome a new life into your world.
Once you have an idea of what's available, sign up for tours of your local hospitals and ask friends for referrals. Armed with your choices, you'll be able to choose the best hospital to deliver your dream baby.
How to find a hospital that offers a natural childbirth environment.
A hospital or accredited birthing center is the safest option for having a baby, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). But you also kind of want it to feel like the natural process that it actually is, right?
Finding a hospital that allows/offers these birthing options can help provide a more natural childbirth experience:
Nothing says natural childbirth like a doula. In case you're a little fuzzy about what a doula is and does, according to DONA International, the world's leading doula certifying organization, a doula is a trained professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to a mother before, during and shortly after childbirth to help her achieve the healthiest, most satisfying experience possible. By incorporating a doula into your birth plan, you truly can have the best of both worlds.
Freedom to move with wireless fetal monitoring
Part of the safety of a hospital birth comes from the continuous monitoring of the baby's heart rate during labor—with any changes alerting staff to potential problems. But being hooked up to a traditional fetal monitor typically meant mom was limited to staying in bed. With wireless fetal monitoring, mom is free to move around and even roam the halls. In fact, walking can be a great way to move labor along.
Natural pain relief options
There's nothing wrong with an epidural birth—more than 50 percent of women have an epidural during childbirth. They are a great option for pain relief and can be used safely at any point in the labor process. Which means even if you think you don't want one, you can change your mind. But first, you might want to try one of these other, more natural, options:
- Breathing techniques
- Cold/hot therapy
- Nitrous oxide
- Aromatherapy/essential oils
Be sure to let your labor team know ahead of time if you are considering any of these options so that they can make sure your delivery room can accommodate your choices.
Birth balls/peanut balls
Birth balls (or labor balls) are the same ones found in some exercise classes and at the gym. They can provide a soft, giving surface to sit and gently move around on while you stretch your body and allow gravity to move your baby into position for birth. You can also lean forward on the ball, which can help stretch tight back muscles and allow a partner or doula to rub your back.
Peanut balls—picture a birth ball but smaller and shaped like a peanut—can be useful when mom has to stay in bed, has had an epidural or is exhausted. They can be positioned in several ways to help promote dilation and position the baby for a more favorable delivery. According to Lamaze International, research has shown that peanut balls may help shorten labor.
Other options to enhance a natural childbirth environment.
Medical City Healthcare hospitals offer additional choices to make your childbirth experience feel a bit homier:
- Music and lighting options
- Cord cutting and baby catching
- Instant skin-to-skin contact
- VIP/luxury suites that feel more like hotel rooms than hospital rooms
- Baby and partner can room-in
- Gourmet celebratory meal
- More—just ask!