Birth Doula Blog
Tips From a Doula Who Knows What Works
Maybe the hospital amenities or sense of safety have drawn you in. Or maybe you can't imagine delivering without your rock star team. Or maybe hospital births are just the way things are done. Whatever the reason, I'm sure you want to make it the best possible experience and avoid any unnecessary interventions.
BEFORE YOU GO
•Read up on your hospital's policies and discuss the ones you aren't comfortable with to try and find a compromise or alternative with your care team.
•Tour the hospital and learn how to enter the labor and delivery department (after hours too). Find out what the in-processing procedure looks like, what you can sign ahead of time, and what is done during triage. Ask what signs you need to show before being admitted.
•Take a birth class so there are no surprises when you go into labor. You'll be able to speak the lingo and understand your options.
•Find out what your hospital offers for pain medication and learn about their risks and benefits.
•Pack light! You don't want to clutter the already small labor room with stuff you truly don't need. The most unnecessary items I've seen are excessive clothes for parents/baby and tools that parents were hoping to use during active labor but didn't even use during early labor or pregnancy. Find out what your stay already includes. See here for what to bring.
•Stay home as long as possible. The goal is to check in to the hospital at no less than 6 cm when labor is well established. Early labor (0-6 cm) is the longest part of the whole event and can easily be spooked away. You don't want to extend your hospital stay by going in too soon. Also, the longer you're there, the more prone you are to having unnecessary interventions.
AT THE HOSPITAL
•Become an informed decision-maker! Understand your rights as a patient and know when you can opt out of anything that doesn't sit right with you even if it seems "mandatory." And speak up if you have questions. Nurses can be flexible but they won't know you disagree or aren't comfortable unless you say something.
•Bring a sign that has your top 3 labor wishes and tape it to the door so all the nurses are informed and you don't have to keep repeating yourself.
•If you don't have any IV meds, choose intermittent monitoring. Did you know continuous monitoring increases your chances of having a C-section?!
•If you need continuous monitoring, opt for a wireless monitor to retain your mobility. Movement is a huge part of successful delivery!
•Put off any pain meds until you're at 6 cm (active labor) to avoid a potential stall.
•If you opt for an Epidural, have it turned off or greatly reduced at 8-9 cm so that you have enough feeling to be able to actively push in order to avoid tearing.
•If an intervention is mentioned, ask if you have time or options...you almost always do.
•Change position every 30 minutes, even with an Epidural.
•Pee often. A full bladder gets in the way of baby's path.
•If unmedicated, opt out of directed pushing and go for spontaneous pushing in order to avoid tearing.
One last tip! I know you think you'll remember this day forever, but trust me, write it down. Take a few minutes to type or voice-record your story. Life happens, birth stories blend and before you know it it's gone.