Do you want to have a natural birth but don’t feel comfortable going to a birthing center or having a home birth? If so, then this post is for you! Despite what you may think, it is totally possible to achieve a natural hospital birth.
I’m speaking from experience. Both of my sons were born in the hospital, and both were natural births. For me, that meant pushing my babies out without getting an Epidural.
We’ll talk more about what natural birth actually is in a minute, but I want to make the point that achieving a natural hospital birth isn’t as uncommon as you might think.
That’s why I’m going to share everything I know about natural hospital birth with you.
Before we get started, there’s something you should know. Setting a goal for a natural birth is a beautiful thing. It’s important to keep the right perspective on things, however, and recognize that you may not always be able to give birth exactly how you planned. If this happens, it’s totally okay!
The ultimate goal is having a healthy baby.
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Is Natural Hospital Birth Possible?
We’re going to break this down a bit more, but is it even possible to accomplish a natural hospital birth?
Yes! It most definitely is! Here’s the key, though. You can’t approach a natural hospital birth the same way you would a birthing center or a home birth.
It’s crucial to have full understanding and acceptance of where you are, how things operate, and what to expect.
You also need to fully understand and accept the staff and their training. More on that later, so stay tuned.
With the right tools and preparation, a natural hospital birth is totally possible.
Here are some tips for a natural hospital birth.
1: Decide What “Natural” Birth Means to You
How far are you going with the idea of “natural?”
For some people, natural birth means vaginal delivery. Period.
To others, natural means no medications or interventions, and to some, the idea of natural birth means giving birth totally outside the hospital.
The first thing you need to do is decide what your idea of a “natural” birth means.
This is one of the reasons why it bothers me when people ask mothers, “did you go natural?”
How are we supposed to answer that? There are a million different answers! It’s a super-personal question, anyway.
But that’s another post for another time.
2: Physical Preparation
A lot of how your labor and childbirth experience goes is just plain up to Baby, but that doesn’t exempt you from doing your part to prepare.
The easiest place to start is with your body.
No, you don’t need to be able to fold up like a pretzel or run a marathon, but you do need to avoid being sedentary during your pregnancy.
Rest is key, but so is movement. Simple things like walking, stretches and birthing ball exercises will help your body prepare for the task of laboring and pushing baby out.
Think about the strength having a baby will require. If this is your first baby you may not know exactly what it takes, so I’ll give you my best advice.
Your body is absolutely incredible. It will help you push your baby out instinctively. You won’t have to tell it what to do.
But you will need strength. You’ll need to be strong enough to labor, then after all those contractions be able to push that baby out.
Squats, walking and birthing ball exercises will prepare your pelvic muscles and open things up for birth. I personally recommend swimming. It’s an incredible way to strengthen your entire body and relax at the same time.
If you’re having trouble with your blood sugars, swimming helps you regulate that too! It also helps with swelling and soreness.
The more physical prep you do, the better off you’ll be–and not just for birth either, but also during your postpartum phase.
3: Mental Preparation
This is the hardest part of preparing for a natural hospital birth but it’s also the most important in my opinion.
After two natural hospital births, I stand firm that 95% of the battle takes place in your mind.
Listen, Sister, I’m going to give you the best advice you’ve heard about natural birth. I don’t care what you’ve read, or what clever tricks are out there.
If you’re going natural, you’re going to feel it. And it’s not comfortable. It’s work. That’s why it’s called labor.
This is where the mental prep is so important.
You have to reach a place in your mind where you understand your body and your contractions. It is possible. Seriously. You’ve got to reach the place where you know that the pain you feel is not “scary”.
The pains you feel are perfect, are normal, and are signs that everything is just right. Your body is working, doing exactly what it’s supposed to do.
It is possible to work through your entire labor with acceptance and resilience.
The important thing is that your labor is totally free of these three things:
Added stress from fear or lack of confidence will literally change the way your contractions feel (take my word for it–I speak from personal experience).
4: Get Completely In Tune and In Trust with Yourself
Nothing is ever guaranteed. Natural birth is a beautiful goal but there is nothing that says by following all the perfect steps you’re guaranteed the birth experience of your dreams.
We can only do our very best to work at it.
One thing that I found was absolutely critical during my birth experiences was to totally tap in to myself.
I had to find this place inside myself where I knew that I was capable of accomplishing this, that my body was able, and there was nothing to fear.
During my first birth experience we nearly didn’t make it to the hospital in time. My son was born 16 minutes after arriving. Those minutes were a hectic blur of activity.
It took total self-trust to believe that I could do this, that everything was okay and I was capable, even amidst the slightly chaotic rush to get me ready for delivery.
During my labor with my second son, my labor was even shorter than with my first (a total of 2 hours and 42 minutes), and it was a struggle for my mind to keep up with the rapid changes in my body.
There were vulnerable moments, absolutely, where doubt threatened to crash in on me.
I had to go very deep inside myself to find the strength to keep up and pull that confidence out.
This is where your inner strength and all that mental prep becomes crucial. You will be relying on it throughout your labor, at some point or another.
5: Work WITH The Hospital Staff
This is another important one out of these tips for a natural hospital birth. A lot of women automatically go into the hospital with the expectation of a birthing center or home birth atmosphere because they’re going natural.
This will trip you up by totally throwing your expectations. If you plan on giving birth in the hospital, you need to expect the hospital staff to act like hospital staff.
That means they’re going to follow protocols, training and education that may differ from a totally holistic point of view.
If you’re not okay with this, you may want to research other options for giving birth.
Developing suspicion or mistrust toward your doctor and the hospital staff will work completely against you.
Before you give birth, schedule a tour of your hospital. Ask questions about how they approach labor and delivery. Go into it with your eyes open.
Yes, you have the right to deny whatever treatments you wish. Just make sure you understand what you’re denying and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
You may find you actually approve of certain treatments you hadn’t before.
6: How To Approach Natural Hospital Birth
My idea of natural hospital birth was no medication prior to the birth of my baby.
I was in the hospital, however, which meant that if complications arose they were certainly going to want to administer whatever they felt I needed.
It was important that I understood and accepted that.
One of my concerns was being given Pitocin during my labor. The nurse who worked with me assured me that Pitocin is not administered during normal labor unless the labor goes long and either mom and/or baby present signs of distress.
Okay. That was workable.
During my second labor I brought my birthing ball and labored beside the bed on the ball rather than lying down.
The contractions and changes happening in my body were intense as I went from 4-5 cm to 10 cm in a little over an hour and baby’s fetal station was only at 0 at that time.
The last thing I wanted was to be on the bed. The nurses worked with me easily, and even inclined the bed for me when pushing time came.
When it comes to approaching your natural birth in the hospital, understand what the normal protocol is and work with your team. Avoid mistrust and suspicion.
7: Should You Have A Birth Plan For Hospital Birth?
Birth plans are cool, but you also need to understand that giving birth is a massive gray zone.
I personally found it was more effective to have a labor plan for at home than to have a detailed birth plan.
The hospital staff are going to follow hospital protocol. That is crucial to keep in mind.
Working with them and creating good rapport will build more trust and teamwork, and an overall more successful experience.
A birth plan is helpful when it comes to what you prefer after the delivery of your baby. Again, it’s important to understand why treatments are given and if you’re going to deny them, understand why you’re denying.
A labor plan outlines the atmosphere you wish to create while at home having contractions. This plan is far more effective in providing clarity for both you and your support team, so they know what you want.
This is also the time when you’re totally in control of what’s happening around you. Take advantage of those hours to stay relaxed and prepare for giving birth.
Curious about knowing the difference between Braxton Hicks and real labor? Check it out here!
8: Truly Understand That You Can Do This!
You are incredible, and your body is too. The things it can accomplish are nothing short of miraculous.
While following these tips for a natural hospital birth does not guarantee your expected birth experience, it’s important to do your best to achieve your goals.
If things don’t go exactly as planned, be okay with the fact that you gave it everything. Knowing how you prepared will give you the confidence you need to move boldly through your childbirth experience.
More power to you, Mama!