Is Natural Birth Possible in a Hospital?

(Photo by Kelly Jordan Photography)

It seems most birth stories these days involve an induction followed by a cascade of interventions that almost half of the time ends in a c-section. Mothers-to-be often express a fear of birthing in the hospital that is only slightly outweighed by their fear of not having access to medical support should something go wrong.

Deciding whether to give birth at home or in the hospital can be difficult. If you do not have home birth midwives in your area you may feel that you do not have other options. You dream of a mindful birthing experience where you are alert and feel strong and empowered. You don’t want to worry about side effects or interference with your natural and sacred birth process. 

Every day women like you achieve their goal of an unmedicated birth with few interventions, in the hospital. It doesn’t usually happen without planning and preparation but it is possible.

If you’re giving birth in the hospital but want to have a natural birth you should:

  1. Choose your primary care provider carefully.

Talk to your doctor about your plans. Make sure he or she is on board and supportive of your desires. You can ask about their c-section rate, episiotomy rate, and what their policies are regarding induction. If your current doctor doesn’t feel right, you should seek a doctor who does. 

Connect with moms groups, in person and online, for recommendations. Ask local doulas which doctors they would recommend for a natural hospital birth. Do you have a friend who gave birth naturally in the hospital? Find out who the doctor was that delivered her baby.

2. Build a support team that respects you.

Hire a doula! I’m the type of gal that thinks a doula is a non-negotiable when wanting a natural birth in a hospital setting. This is because the staff are generally trained to interfere and intervene. So if you come there with a birth plan in hand stating all the things you “don’t want them to do,” you should have a doula along for support. One great role a doula has is that she can act as your voice during labor. She can advocate for you to the staff so that you won’t be disturbed when you’re deep in ‘laborland.’ If you are planning to have the support of a doula, you’ll have the best opportunity to build a trusting relationship by finding the right doula early in your pregnancy.

Connect with the people you’ll have in the birthing room in the months to come. If you have a partner, work on being loving and strong for each other throughout your pregnancy.

3. Write a birth plan.

The best part of birth planning is learning about your options. Use the birth planning process as an opportunity to discover your partner’s preferences, too. If you’re birthing in a hospital you’ll need to write things in your birth plan that seem obvious, such as: immediate skin-skin contact, delayed cord clamping, and an undisturbed first hour with your baby. 

Keep in mind that birth is unpredictable. Having a plan to set your specific intentions for birth is important but remember that should you need to stray from that plan you’re still one fierce mama! All births, medical or not, are profound rites of passage for mothers. 

4. Get educated.

Taking a childbirth education class that aligns with your beliefs and intentions is important. Preparation before labor begins is essential. There are many things that are considered “standard routine” that needn’t be in a hospital setting. It’s necessary to educate yourself, and learn to embrace your own natural intelligence that can help you birth more easily.  

The Birth Like a Goddess program I have created is a hypnosis-based online birthing class that prepares you emotionally, physically, and spiritually for the natural birth you desire.

5. Be prepared to advocate for yourself.

It’s your body, your birth, and your baby! No one has a right to do anything to you without your permission. Advocating for yourself will be easiest if you’ve taken the time to learn about your options and prepare yourself emotionally for the birth experience you desire. I can’t stress this enough. Just because a doctor says something does not mean that it is right for you and your baby.  

Remember that when you are in this setting, you will most likely be offered things you do not want. You must learn to listen to your deepest intuitive messages and act from this place. Be prepared to say “No” multiple times if needed. 

6. Stay at home as long as possible!

This is one of my top tips if you’re wanting a natural and spiritual birth experience. Many women, especially first time mothers, rush off to the hospital when they don’t need to. This results in disappointment when the hospital staff may tell them that they are only 1 cm open and that they must go back home. Or, worse, it can mean a very long labor where many interventions are introduced over time to “speed things up.” Labor usually comes on slow,  contrary to that popular scene in the movies where the water breaks and the mother rushes frantically to the hospital.

I recommend distracting yourself from labor by doing something grounding, such as preparing your home for your little one to arrive, baking something yummy, or going on a walk in nature. This is a good rule of thumb: if you can distract yourself, then you probably aren’t in active labor yet.

7. Bring your allies to the hospital.

Claim your sacred birthing space by making it feel comfortable, private and inviting. Midwife Ina May Gaskin says, “Whatever gets the baby in, gets the baby out.” Bringing special items to the hospital will help you feel that you are in a home-like environment. You may want to have a relaxing playlist, a diffuser and some essential oils, a birth ball (big rubber exercise ball), and a beautiful gown that you can wear instead of the hospital gown you are given.

Reflect upon what you may need to feel that you are entering into a beautiful ceremonial space, even if it is in the hospital. This will help your body to remember that it is safe and can open up.

Happy birthing!

Nancy Lucina

Nancy Lucina

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