10 tricks for an easier hospital birth
We often hear horror stories about birthing in the hospital, and it's not necessarily that it's a terrible place to give birth, it's mainly that we're placed in an uncomfortable and unfamiliar environment, feeling some of the strongest pains we've ever felt in our life, and we're told to relax as much as possible....yeah, probably not going to.
What happens if we can't relax our bodies - especially our pelvises for birth? We literally hold the baby up, and prevent it from engaging and moving further into our pelvises and through the birth canal. If baby can't engage and move down, that can cause a longer, more intense labour, or end in interventions being needed, and this is the reason for fear of hospital birthing.
So what can we do to make it a more comfortable environment and to get the most out of birthing in the hospital?
1. Bring your own pillow and blanket. This will add to the amount of "stuff" you need to bring for your stay, however, they are a familiar smell to you, which would bring comfort, and your postpartum stay could be between 24 hours to 3 days, so it might be nice to have some of those homey comforts.
2. Music and flameless candles. Set up your own little birthing spa! Bring a blutooth speaker, or headphones for your phone or ipod (do people still use ipods?). Turn the lights off, and set up some little battery powered tealight candles.
3. Use the shower or tub. Hydrotherapy during labour is a great way to relax your muscles, and can ease the intensity of labour pains, a little bit. If the shower is big enough, you might be able to bring an exercise ball or birth stool into the shower, to sit on.
4. Walk the halls or climb stairs. Get out of your room and go for a walk! It's a great way to help baby engage, while loosening up some tight muscles, and encouraging good fetal positioning. If there's a rail on the walls, stop during contractions and squat, holding on to the rail (remember to squat with the whole foot planted on the floor - this tilts your pelvis forward).
5. Use the bed in various ways other than just to lie in.
Sit on a ball, raise the bed up to your chest, and lie forward on the edge of the bed, hugging a pillow.
Raise the back of the bed up, and kneel, leaning over the back of the bed, on a pillow. You can also wrap a rebozo around the back of the bed, and pull on it. *When on your knees, make sure your ankles are wider than your knees - this opens up the outlet of the pelvis.
Put up the squat bar and squat during contractions. Or kneel on one knee, with the other knee up, and rock into that knee that's up, using the bar for stability. You can do this on both sides, to help put pressure on your cervix, during contractions.
Lay the bed completely flat, and bring an exercise ball up onto the bed, then go on your knees and lie over the ball. You can also do this on the floor, with a pillow under your knees, but the bed is a lot cushier.
Do a side lying release, on the bed, just make sure you have someone standing beside the bed, to keep you from falling off.
Labour on your side, with a peanut ball between your legs.
6. Two words: Warm blankets. Enough said.
7. Bring your own clothes to labour in. You don't have to wear the hospital gown! I repeat: YOU DO NOT HAVE TO WEAR THE HOSPITAL GOWN! Yes, they can be thrown in the hospital laundry if you get blood or fluid on it, but they were not designed with labouring women in mind and are not the most comfortable things to wear. So bring a few options for things that you could wear, or just go naked, if that's your preference. But definitely bring a comfortable robe. Or check out www.gracefullybirthed.com They have beautifully made, functional garments for labour and postpartum!
8. Bring a supportive birth team. Don't invite people to your birth, who either won't be supportive to your wishes or will just stress you out. Maybe think about hiring a birth doula - someone who know the in's and out's of how to make a birth experience better.
9. Have a dance party! Turn on some good beats and dance with your partner! This is a fantastic way to get the oxytocin flowing, and also helps loosen muscles, engage baby, and encourage better fetal positioning.
10. Trust the process and let go of fears. If you go into it with doubts, your not going to fully surrender to your body. Your mind is a powerful thing and can hold you back. Again, if you hold tension in your pelvis (because that's where most of us hold stress and tension), then your body can't release and do what it needs to.
I hope this list gets you excited for your hospital birth, and helps you make the most of it!