How to Have Natural Childbirth in the Hospital

Though I am a huge advocate of homebirth with a trained midwife (having just had my second successful homebirth), I also know that it is not for everybody. I was delighted when Emily offered to write a guest post presenting another angle on natural births and how to have a beautiful birth experience in the hospital. I would love to hear from others in the comments who have also had a positive hospital childbirth experience!

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Natural labor photo

Guest Post by Emily

When I became pregnant with our first child in 2007, I knew right from the start that I wanted to have a natural birth. Mostly, I wanted to avoid having a c-section for any reason other than absolute medical necessity.  I knew that too many interventions could lead down the path to a c-section, and I knew I was willing to deal with the pain of labor to prevent going down that path.  I also knew that it would not be easy for me to have a natural birth, and not just because of the labor.  Unfortunately, in today’s society it seems that there are many obstacles in the way of a mother that desires to give birth naturally, and the most powerful one is the place where the majority of women give birth, the hospital.

Hospitals don’t expect women to give birth naturally.  They don’t expect that you understand or are prepared for your labor and birth.  They don’t expect you to be able to manage your contractions. They expect that you will be in pain, be overwhelmed, and want interventions and medication and that is what they are set up to provide. They don’t expect that you would actually desire to have a natural birth experience.

I think it is so important to prepare for your birth, especially if you are going to give birth in a place that does not put a high value on natural birth. Here are seven of the ways I found that helped me achieve the birthing experience I wanted while in the hospital.

1. Do your own research. Read, read, read as much as you can about natural birth. You are the final decision maker for your birth experience and how you want your birth to be, not the nurses, the hospital staff, or even your doctor.  Research and knowledge will help you to make good decisions and overcome the fear and unknown of labor. (A great place to start is with Unbound Birth, an ebook that offers many great suggestions on how to have natural birth in the hospital.)

2. Take a good birthing class.  This is one that I didn’t take my own advice on, my husband and I just went to the class that the hospital offered.  If I had to do my first birth over again I would take a class that was more focused on natural birth, like the Bradley Method. This will help you feel prepared and supported in your decision.

3. Make it a family affair.  It is so important to know that your husband is on board, and understands and supports your desire to have a natural birth. Your husband will probably be your most important birth coach. Encourage your husband to go to childbirth classes with you and also to read books on natural labor.  It is so helpful if your husband understands the process of labor, what you will be going through, and how to comfort and encourage you.

4. Get support in addition to your husband. The best decision I made with my first birth was to use a doula. The support of my husband and my doula helped me to feel confident in my ability to birth naturally and allowed me to achieve the birth experience I wanted. Not feeling supported in your decision can make it harder to resist giving in to interventions and medication when the going gets tough. So whether it’s your sister, your mom, your best friend, or your doula, have someone with you that supports you 100%.

5. Talk with other moms who have had natural births, especially those that have given birth naturally in a hospital.  This was one of the most encouraging things I did before my daughter was born. It really helped me to believe that I could do it.  It also wouldn’t hurt to talk to moms who didn’t have great birth experiences.  All births that end with healthy babies and moms are good birth stories, but it may help to learn from those who had births that didn’t go exactly as the mother had hoped.

6. Write out your birth plan.  Go over it with your doctor or midwife ahead of time and take it with you to the hospital to give to the nurses.  You might be surprised that your nurses may really want to help you achieve your goal of natural birth.  I was so fortunate to have great nurses for both of my births who were supportive and encouraging because they read my birth plan and knew the type of birth I wanted.

7. Once you are in labor, stay home as long as possible! Laboring at home is much, much more relaxing than laboring at the hospital.  And when you’re relaxed you will probably progress faster and easier (although that’s not a given).  Plus, as long as you are at home you won’t have the option of medications and interventions so you will learn to manage the contractions without them and know that you are able to do it.  That way you won’t be as easily tempted by the meds once you get to the hospital.

For those of you who don’t have the option of having a homebirth, or just don’t feel comfortable with it, but still desire to give birth naturally, I’m here to encourage you that it is possible to have a natural birth in the hospital – I know, I have done it twice now! In planning and preparing for natural childbirth I learned, and experienced, that it is not just about avoiding a c-section, but is about the joy and strength that comes from the amazing experience of working with your body to give birth to your baby.  Believe in yourself and trust your body! You really can give birth naturally – it is what your body was made and designed to do!

For more information on natural childbirth, these are books I found helpful: The Official Lamaze Guide: Giving Birth with Confidence
by Judith Lothian and Charlotte DeVries; The Birth Book: Everything You Need to Know to Have a Safe and Satisfying Birth (Sears Parenting Library) by William and Martha Sears; Homebirth in the Hospital: Integrating Natural Childbirth with Modern Medicine
by Stacey Kerr M.D.; and Empowered Pregnancy by Theodore Peck.

Have you had a natural hospital birth? What things did you find helpful in your experience?

Disclosure: This post includes affiliate links.


About Emily McClements

Emily is a blessed wife and mama to three little ones. She is passionate about caring for God’s creation and people by being a good steward of the resources He has provided. As part of her journey towards living more “frugally green” she blogs about the things she is learning and the changes she is making at Live Renewed.

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Comments

  1. Heather Powers says:

    My second child was almost intevention free. I had every intevention short of forcepts and vacuum with my oldest and i regeted it. With my youngest i was determined to go as natural as possible. I didnt have much of a choice in avoiding birthing at a hospital i have pretty bad asthma and my husband was uncomfortable with homebirthing because of that. And i was due in my worst allergy season. My ob and i desided at my 40 week check up that if i didnt go into labor over the weekend I was going to be admitted on monday. The weekend came and my asthma got bad my lung doctor said when my husband called her that if i didnt have the baby in the next few day she was admitting me. When we got there Monday morning I alowed one of only 2 inteventions I would have they gave me somthing to ripen my cervix. I took a nap and then my doula arrived. I refused the iv and only allowed intermittent monitering. I spent the morning and afternoon walking and doing light yoga and doing squats. I had family visit while my husband snuck me some bread and other snacks. My contactions were mild but I was progressing I was 2cm at check-in at lunch I was 5cm. My ob came in around 7pm and I had stalled at 7cm. He said my options were go home (not an option my outside of the hospitals clean air I wasn’t getting enough for me and the baby.) Pitocin again not an option. So that lest me with my second intevention I allowed him to break my water. Oh my gosh wow! That was all that was needed. I hit transition almost immediately. I am so glad to have had my husband and dolua. My husband kept changing my music to suit my mood ever 2minutes and hold my hand while my doula provided counter pressure on my back while I made very loud low moans. I requested the nurse to come and check me she came in huffing that it was too soon and i was fine. I told her to just check In the 1.5 hours from the water being broken I was at 10cm with a lip. Even thouht I was resisting the urge to push I found he scrambling very funny. IMy ob was allready up making his rounds so I didn’t have to wate for him. I made the annoying nurse help me getting into a squat I didn’t want to deliver on my back again I was already having back labor. My husband and doula supported me because dumbo nurse couldn’t find the squat bar. And I said I wanted to push dumbo said no you still have a lip. My wonderful ob said do what your body tells you. So after 2hours of hard labor and .5 hours pushing my little boy was born. I ened up with a 2nd degree tear and needed pitosin injection to stop the bleeding my ob said because I shot my son out to quick. Love men with a sence of humor. I was up walking 2hours later and only needed tylenol for the pain. This was so polar opposite of my 1st labor that if I were to have another child I would shoot for completely unmedicated.

  2. Sarah Brown says:

    Thanks for this post I know it’s old but I found it by googling preparing for natural childbirth. I had my first in April 2012 with epidural cause of bad back labor, it was terrible wearing off. I am now due in August seeing a midwife at a hospital trying to prepare for natural. If you have any more tips that you can share please email me saira_lainee@yahoo.com

  3. I had 2 wonderful natural births in a hospital just outside of Houston. I wouldn’t trade it for the world! We did Bradley method and i’m so glad we did!

    • Hello Sarah,

      I am in the Houston, my husband and I are going to try to get pregnant soon and I wanted to know if you could give me the names of the hospitals. I really do not want to be pressued into medical intervention but at the same time would feel better at a hospital then at home.

      Thanks,

      Alicia

  4. Interesting article. You must not live in New York. We don’t have the option of “Natural births” in the hospitals here.. I did some research into the vitamin K shot. It’s considered a “vaccine” in the medical world and contains metals. The antibiotic eye save is also forced upon babies here. If you want to opt out of the shot and the eye save, think again. You will have to be prepared to fight it in court before you even enter the hospital. A lawyer said it would cost about $2,500, three years ago. If you don’t have a court order, the hospital may very well consider you a neglectful parent(believe me, they will) , place a call to child protective services and you leave without your baby. In New York, your baby is State property while in the hospital. This is the same in other states as well. I’m glad you had two natural births, but I would caution you in recmmending it to others without encouraging them to check their state laws, as based on the knowlege of differing state laws,it could end in complete disaster. I’m writing sincerely. Please forgive me if this comes across harsh. I also had two natural births (water births). One was at home; the other outside of NY state. Between the two, a home birth was so much better.

  5. As an OB nurse, I love that you are sharing this! I think as labor nurses and even physicians we do value natural childbirth. Obviously, in hospitals there are always variable which can change any situation, but we ALL love a good natural delivery. And many of us believe low-risk births can happen at home- and therefore you can avoid an interventions we may need to do out of our own policies based on best medical practice. What we tend to see are mothers who would like to labor and deliver naturally with little to no intervention, yet they have zero education or practice on what labor looks like/feels like/ how they can cope and move through the process. Again, I applaud you for this post! It is necessary to have those who would like to deliver naturally have all the tools they can get :)

  6. I had a mostly natural birth in hospital with my son, but I had to argue with the nurses every step of the way. One even tried to sneak me Tylenol 3′s by not telling me what she was giving me! After he was born they did eveything they could to take him from me as fast as possible, and looked at me like I was crazy for wanting to b. feed right away. I think my mistake was not having written copies of my birth plan available. We are preparing for #2 now, and I am going to a hospital again as we can’t afford home birth. This time I will have extra people along for support, and multiple detailed copies of the plan. We are also trying a different hospital.

  7. Emily,
    How refreshing to read a post by a mighty woman of God!!

    This is my 3rd pregnancy & I’m drawn to trying for a natural birth. I had great deliveries with the 1st two, but my boys are 13 & 10, so it’s been a while. You’re advice was great & inspiring. I’m glad I came across your post.

    “Be blessed to be a blessing!”

    ~Muingo aka Mo

  8. My baby was born via natural birth in a hospital. I had to brainwash my doctor months in advance so she’d believe that I was serious about not having any interventions. The labor and birth went very, very well. I stayed home as long as possible, even after my water broke, which I know you’re supposedly not supposed to do. Since I was very explicit on my intentions to give birth naturally, (verbally, in birth plan, and in my file) they did not mention drugs to me at all as per my wishes. The one bad thing that happened was when the doctor was stitching up my tears she forgot to take out a piece of gauze. I didn’t know this, and started to wonder why I was not feeling better after two weeks of being unable to stand for more than 5 minutes at a time due to a painful heaviness I felt. They were finally able to see me three weeks after giving birth, not believing that there was really something wrong with me. The doctor minimized her dreadful mistake, so I will not be going to her for the next baby. I’m trying to talk my husband into shelling out $5000 to go to a birthing center instead. And maybe having baby #3 at home. :)

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