Help for natural childbirth in a hospital setting!
(NOTE: I updated links as of Aug 8, 2015. If you find any links that are dead, please e-mail me at reillworld (at) cox (dot) net. Thanks!!)
The more I look into these things, the more I realize what an anomaly my births have been — five births, uninduced, unmedicated, all-natural, all in a hospital setting. It appears to me that, despite some great attempts to the contrary, the birthing camps are becoming more polarized — the “gimme and epidural NOW” folks in one corner, and the homebirthers in another, and neither the twain shall meet on middle ground.
I understand that’s a sweeping generalization. However, especially as I look into possibly becoming a doula, and as I’ve been researching more and more on natural birth to help with my dear friend Erin as she births her first baby, it does at least seem like things are pretty much stridently divided into those two camps.
I’ve even read some stuff from the perspective that my own babies’ births don’t count as “natural” because they were in a hospital setting. Forgive my strong language, ;) but that’s a load of crap.
I realize that medical costs are out of control in the U.S., and our 31.8% cesearean surgery rate and unnecessarily medicated vaginal births contribute greatly to the excesses, and that birthing at home is a much more affordable alternative — and possibly even a part of the solution to taming medical expenses. HOWEVER. It makes me a wee bit upset to read — as I have, and read a LOT — stuff that makes it sound like a natural hospital-based birth is impossible. There is definitely homebirthing propaganda that tries to scare women out of trying to birth naturally in the hospital, which in my book, is shooting mothers in their own feet (or uterus??) and lending to the passive, defeatist attitude that many women adopt at the hands of hospital medical staff, instead of empowering them to advocate for themselves and their baby.
Now, I will say that my… umm… strong personality, personal convictions, and willingness to swim upstream were all definitely aids in my success. I had to stand my ground on more than one occasion to advocate for myself to be able to have a natural childbirth, going against the advice of my doctors, and definitely against the advice of L&D nurses — declining induction, refusing continual fetal monitoring, getting a hep lock in lieu of standard IV fluids, eating and drinking during labor, declining pain medication, declining Pitocin, declining AROM, declining episiotomies, etc. Nothing has been handed to me on a platter; I’ve had to read, research, know my options, and stick to my guns. But, I am proof, five times over, that it is definitely possible to have a natural, hospital-based birth.
However, I have frequently wished for more information online to support those who — for whatever reason(s) — choose to birth in the hospital, yet have a desire to birth naturally. There just hasn’t been enough readily-available information on it, at least not that I’ve seen.
Voila! Here it is. Mother’s Advocate (co-produced with Lamaze International). I love the name. I more greatly love what it provides: Well-produced, concise print materials, and similarly well-produced short videos, all with the purpose to help women birth naturally especially in a hospital setting.
Seriously. If you watched the seven videos, each 2 – 3½ minutes long, and really applied all six of the steps illustrated, you would be well-equipped to have a natural birth. The 18 page complete pdf document (also downloadable in seven separate sections) is helpful, as well. I would suggest watching the videos first, then printing out the pdfs as a reminder. There are also 14 pages of additional information, like a birth planning worksheet and a “references” document if you’re a research-wonk and want to look into it more thoroughly.
I did not take Lamaze classes or anything, but I did each of these steps, partly on instinct, and partly gleaned from other various resources. It’s great to have them all in one place — short, sweet, and effective.
Intro: Birth — As Safe and Healthy as it Can Be (click for pdf)
Step 1: Let Labor Begin on its Own (click for pdf)
Step 2: Walk, Move Around, and Change Positions Throughout Labor (click for pdf)
Step 3: Bring a Loved One, Friend, or Doula for Continuous Support (click for pdf)
Step 4: Avoid Interventions That Are Not Medically Necessary (click for pdf)
Step 5: Avoid Giving Birth on Your Back, and Follow Your Body’s Urges to Push (click for pdf)
Step 6: Keep Your Baby With You — It’s Best for You, Your Baby, and Breastfeeding (click for pdf)
I dearly hope that this info and these links are a help to someone, anyone out there.
Also, if you are a natural childbirth advocate of any kind, and have further links to suggest, do leave them in a comment!!