Let's being with choosing the right provider. It's important to find someone who aligns with your needs and wants for your labor & birth experience. The provider typically attends birth with hospitals they are affiliated with. You will want to discuss the hospital policies and procedures in which you will be giving birth. Asking questions about cesarean rates, episiotomy rates, and other inventions will allow you to gain more insight into how things may go for you during labor. This is important to discuss even if you and your provider share the same ideas/ philosophies about birth. There is always a chance they may not be available when you go into labor. Your physician may have a backup physician attending you or if you see a group it may be your provider or another physician within that group.
No one wants to have to fight or advocate for themselves every step of the way during labor & birth. You'll save yourself some frustration choosing the right provider and the right hospital from the beginning. For a healthy non-complicated pregnancy choosing a midwife may be a really good option for you. Certified Nurse-Midwives can practice inside a hospital setting. You can also look into that.
Look up your hospital at ratings.leapfroggroup.org
If you intend on breast/ chest feeding choosing a baby-friendly hospital can be very helpful in initiating that journey for you. WHO and UNICEF developed the baby-friendly initiative that works to make hospitals more successful in helping birthing people breast/chest feed. There is a 10 step protocol that they go by. Medical professionals are well educated in the importance and support of breast/ chest feeding. At the writing of this post, there are presently 590 baby-friendly hospitals in the united states. If you want to find a baby-friendly hospital go to babyfriendlyusa.org
What can I do if I have limited options in the hospital I choose? You can still look up the hospital's cesarean rate and ask about the policies and procedures. Writing out a birth plan and talking it over with your provider before giving birth can be helpful. Let them know that you want to be out of bed for your labor and move freely as much as possible etc.
You can change providers at any time during your pregnancy if you feel you aren't receiving adequate care. You can hire a birth doula to help you manage pain, limit interventions as much as possible, and empower you along the way. "Doula support has shown a 25% decrease risk in the need for a cesarean, 8% increase in the likely hood of spontaneous vaginal birth, 10% decrease in the use of pain medications, 31% decrease in birth experience dissatisfaction, and 38% decrease in the baby having a low 5 minute APGAR score". ( Evidence-Based Birth)
Create a birth plan and talk it over with your care provider. Let them know what the most important to you in your birth experience. Informed decision-making is a process where you and your provider discuss the risks, benefits, alternatives, and options when it comes to treatments and interventions ahead of time.
Using the acronym B.R.A.I.N is helpful in this process. What are the benefits? Risks: what are the risks involved with this intervention? What are my alternatives? Intuition, what is your gut telling you? Now or never? Can it wait, what happens if we wait? The one time you won't be able to use the shared decision-making process is when you are experiencing a true emergency.
Follow Lamaze 6 Healthy Birth Practices
1.Let labor begin on its own. Labor induction comes with a cascade of interventions, so reserving inductions for only when it's medically necessary is a good idea. 2. Walk move around and change positions throughout labor. You can work with gravity and guide your baby's descent through your pelvis by moving. 3. Bring a loved one friend or Doula. Continous support provides many benefits for comfort, stress management, and overall affirming your choices as a birthing person. 4. Avoid interventions that aren't medically necessary. This is a case-by-case situation but many times electronic fetal monitoring, restriction of eating and drinking, IV fluids and multiple vaginal exams can be added to that list. Ask to use a handheld doppler to assess the baby's heart rate intermittently throughout labor, a great way to stay mobile. 5. Avoid giving birth on your back and follow your body's urge to push. Assume a position that feels right for your body when you are ready to push. Evidence shows that as long as the birthing person and baby are doing well you can take as long as you need in the pushing phase. 6. Keep birthing person and baby together, it's better for baby and breast/chest feeding. Initiating immediate skin-to-skin contact is so beneficial for breast/chest feeding. This continues the harmony of the hormones for both you and your baby. Relish in that oxytocin rush increasing feelings of love & bonding with your baby. This oxytocin continues contractions helping with the birth of the placenta and involution of the uterus ( it continues to contract after birth ).
There is so much more to talk about for increasing your chances of natural hospital birth. If you'd like 1:1 virtual childbirth education reach out to me on our bookings page.
References: Lamaze Learning Guide & Evidence-Based Birth