Having A Home Birth Experience In A Hospital Setting
Prepare Your Mind and Body for Birth No Matter Where You Deliver
Preparing to bring a precious life into this world is an amazing experience, but it also comes with a lot of decisions that can feel stressful. There are decisions like whether or not to find out the gender, or where to register. But then there are the bigger decisions like what doctor to use and where to give birth. As a first-time parent, this can seem especially overwhelming. Looking back at my experience I may have done things differently, but that’s how it goes right? We do the best we can with the knowledge we have at that moment. What I did know was how important it was for me to have a connected and spiritual birthing experience no matter the outcome. My partner and I decided on a traditional hospital birth versus a birthing center, or even a homebirth. Simply because this was our first experience and it seemed like the safest bet at the time. So, knowing I was going to have some of the challenges that come along with a hospital setting, I set my mind to prepare as best I could to have a home birth experience in the hospital. Here are the tools that helped me:
Choosing Your OB/Midwife and Hospital for Birth
- Interview at least two or three midwives and find out which hospital(s) they deliver at.
- Take a tour of the hospital to make sure it feels like a good fit (ask about baths/shower, birthing balls, food availability for you and your partner, and visitation policies).
- Ask your peers about their experience with the hospital, especially with the nurses!
- Most importantly, when choosing a doctor, make sure they will 100% support your principles for your birth. For instance, ask about their stance on unmedicated labor, inductions, birthing positions, and how quickly they may be to rush into medical interventions before natural alternatives have been explored.
What and How to Prepare for Birth
- Attend the right type of childbirth prep class for you.
- Consider working with a doula.
- Take a prenatal yoga class and practice the postures that feel like they will be helpful during labor
- Visualize the birthing room and set your thoughts around themes of strength, peace, wisdom, and anything else to awaken your mommy warrior mode
- Have your hospital bags packed around 37 weeks. Pack whatever will help set the stage like your home. (Consider your own birthing gown).
- Consume hydrating food and drinks like coconut water and fruit. Other snacks that will settle your stomach.
Tips for When Labor Begins
Labor at home as long as possible. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do that, but it allowed me time to settle in and try to create that home comfort in the hospital room.
- Consider a flameless candle. Dim the light in the evening and open the shades in the daytime.
- Have an item that brings you comfort. For instance, I brought this angel that had the serenity prayer written on it and I put that right by the bed
- Aromatherapy. I love lavender and citrus essential oils.
- Play your favorite empowering or peaceful music.
- Sing, pray, walk around, do yoga poses/breathe work. Use the bath/shower, birthing ball, and anything else that your mind/body needs.
Dealing with Unexpected Challenges of Delivering a Child
Dealing with all the “unwanted visitors” was probably the most challenging part. I had a very long labor and required some IV antibiotics, so we had a constant barrage of people checking in. Have your birth team really advocate for you and request that everyone who comes into the room stay calm and out of “fear mode” as much as possible. This is where all the mindfulness preparation really helped. In the midst of all the external chaos, I stayed devoted to my intention to be aware and connected. This was also tested when some suspected complications arose. I’m very grateful for the doctors and the medical options that were available, but I chose to not rush into any interventions and trust my body and my birth team.
Birth is an incredible experience that can be both beautiful and scary. No two births are the same. Focus on preparing for what you can control and try to let go of the rest.
Erin Sears Basile