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Childbirth Cubby

Creating a Positive Hospital Experience
by Cubby Editor Kathleen

At the beginning of the 21st century, the trend in many hospitals is toward creating a warmer, more home-like setting for laboring moms and their partners. "Traditional" hospital deliveries wherein the mother labors in one room, but delivers in another are being replaced by labor and delivery "suites" where mom not only labors and delivers her baby in one room, but also has a wide variety of options to help her childbirth experience to be a positive one.

For many parents, the decision to deliver in a hospital comes easily. For example, when I was pregnant with my first child, there was never a question as to where my baby would be born. However, the idea of creating a positive birthing experience was not my primary focus. My thought at that time were that I just wanted to have my baby. And complications during my delivery made any thoughts of a positive experience unattainable. Yet my thinking did change with my subsequent pregnancies, and the outcomes of those experiences were vastly different than what I experienced with my first. The wonderful feeling that remains with me from each of those births convinces me that it is possible to have a positive experience while delivering one's baby in a hospital!

So what are some ways to help create such a positive experience in a hospital setting? We asked StorkNet's members for their suggestions, and received some wonderful tips!

  1. Be Informed!
  2. Have A Birth Plan
  3. Labor At Home
  4. Find The Right Hospital/Care Provider
  5. Create A Homelike Atmosphere
  6. Support Personnel
  7. Pre-register and Familiarize Yourself With The Hospital
  8. Birthing Balls, And Other Ideas To Help You Through Labor
  9. Other Important And Helpful Suggestions: (no fear, stay positive, etc)

  1. Be Informed!

    Katherine:  Be very informed about labour, delivery, the meds, and their potential side-effects. (So you can make informed decisions based on info you already know, as opposed to what you hear in the heat of the moment.)

    Hedra:  Be aware of your options. The L & D nurses I met were thrilled that I clearly had a clue what I was talking about. They respected my knowledge, and my attitude, and in the end even the nurses who were not at all "pro" natural birth did their very best to support me and help me make choices they thought I'd prefer in the end.

    Bryar:  The best advice I can give is knowledge gives you peace of mind as it enables you to understand what is happening, thus reducing the scariness of it all.

  2. Have A Birth Plan

    Jenny:  I made a birth plan and the first item on it said, "This is my first birth, I understand that each birth is different, and these ideas may not work, but I would like to try these items. In the case that they are not working or not possible, I would like a nurse to help me understand other alternatives." This really opened up a great line of communication between me and the L&D nurses. It helped them understand my wishes, but let them know that I still respected them and their advice.

    Laurissa:  Have a birth plan but do not just inform your support person on what is in the plan but why you want it in the plan that way they are more likely to support you and help make a quick decision if an emergency happens.

  3. Labor At Home

    Hedra:  Stay home as long as reasonably possible (check with your care provider for guidelines for how long you can reasonably stay home). Going in too soon can be disastrous to your sense of progress (if say, you arrive and are sent home again), let alone providing more opportunities for stress and for interventions that might not be needed if you stayed home longer.

  4. Find The Right Hospital/Care Provider

    Jan:  My best advice is to try to find a hospital that has doctors and nurses that will be supportive of your choices - it is absolutely vital! And don't be afraid to ask for what you want.

    Lauri:  Don't be afraid to look for a different care provider if the one you have chosen does not have the same philosophy as you.

    Katherine:  I think that you *need* to have a person attending you (whether doctor or midwife) who understands and supports your choices.

  5. Create A Homelike Atmosphere

    Amy:  Bring your own pillow and pillow case, and bring your own clothes for after the birth.

    Angie:  One thing that definitely made my second hospital birth a lot better was to bring a comfy and soothing nightgown from home to birth in. I felt more relaxed not having to wear a hospital gown, and I got to have a little piece of familiar comfort surround me as I brought my baby into the world. Plus, now I have a sentimental gown that I can pack away and save for many years as a tangible memory of that amazing experience!

  6. Support Personnel

    • Hire a Doula

      Hedra:  Bring a doula. It allows the nurse to interact with someone when you are busy and your partner is distracted, and helps keep things running smoothly without distracting you.

      Lea:  Having my doula there and my husband's support were priceless.

      Pam:  I hired a doula who was also in training to be a hypnobirth instructor. All I can say is that I will never birth a baby (intentionally) without the help of a doula/hypnobirth expert. Having the doula took the "pressure" off of my husband.

      For more information about doulas, click here to read our article on What is a Doula.

    • Labor And Delivery Nurses

      Christy:  I am a labor and delivery nurse and have 3 children of my own. The single best tip I can offer is to befriend your nurse.You are going to see more of your nurse than any other medical person and they can be a great advocate to your care.

      Neza:  Talk to friends who've had their babies at that facility. Ask who their favorite delivery nurse was and why. Sometimes you can request a nurse if she's on duty when you deliver.

      Jan:  I think the key is to have supportive nurses.

    • Have An Extra Person In The Room

      Yahnira:  The best advice I can give is to make sure someone is with you in the room the whole time you are in labor.

      Patricia:  One thing that helped me tremendously with both my children's births was to have my mother attend the birth. My mom and my husband were both with me. I think it made things a lot easier on both of them if one of them needed a break or a drink, etc.

      Jenny:  The other thing I found helpful was to have two wonderful support people. That way I was never alone when one needed to get some food, or get me some ice, or talk to the nurses.

  7. Pre-register and Familiarize Yourself With The Hospital

    Tanya:  The most helpful thing to me was making sure I was pre-registered. Believe me, when we arrived at the hospital, I was in so much pain I don't think I would have been very nice if I had to stop and fill out the paperwork!

  8. Birthing Balls, And Other Ideas To Help You Through Labor

    Cheryl:  I used a birthing ball through most of my laboring, and it really helped me manage the pain and help the baby descend. The nurse also put a hot rice bag on my back while I sat on the ball. She tucked it into my monitor belts.

    Alyssa:  For my second son, we turned the heat down in the room, and my husband rubbed ice on my wrists, while I was taking deep breaths.

    Jen:  I read the Bradley book, and did the exercises with my husband. I sat up in a chair rather than staying in bed.

    Carmen:  Don't forget your chapstick!

  9. Other Important And Helpful Suggestions: (no fear, stay positive, etc)

    Pam:  I also found that having a positive attitude during the pregnancy and about the upcoming birth was a major factor in my daughter's birth being so wonderful.

    Lea:  I would say that educating yourself and not fearing labor are major . . . and knowing that even though you are in a hospital setting, you are still the one in charge of the situation.

    Amy:  Make sure you tell the nurses about any special requests you may have early in the process. Make sure they know if you are breastfeeding or not, etc . . .

    Hedra:  Bring a note for the door that indicates what your GENERAL approach is and what you need people to be aware of each time they enter the room. For example, if you want to be asked if you want meds, note that. No more than three items - the nurses have to handle more than one woman at a time quite often, and with the note, they don't have try to keep track of everything. (Let them know it is for their benefit, not yours - it makes their lives easier, too.)

Would you like to add your experiences?
What are some of your best tips and suggestions on how to make childbirth in a hospital a positive experience!? What did you find helpful during your childbirth and delivery in a hospital setting? Perhaps you used a doula and wrote up a birth plan. Tell us what worked for you! Click here to submit your tips. We may add them with the next update.

Additional Resources:
   · How can I have a low-intervention hospital birth?

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