Giving birth is a well-known process and there are so many books, articles, and tips about it.
The nurses are there to help women get through this challenging, new, and exciting process, but they are also trained to do it in a way that won’t get the hospital in any trouble down the road.
Need an example? They often don’t want women to push on the toilet (even though this is a great pelvis-opening position) because they don’t want a baby to be born into that porcelain bowl.
In many ways, the interaction between hospital staff and laboring women and their partners can be a delicate dance, to be sure, and in modern times in the U.S., this is a big factor in why women hire doulas — to be their advocates and not just their supporters or guides.
Clearly, this is a subject that fascinates me, and in case it does my readers, too, here are 15 important things hospital staff is not actually allowed to stop women from doing.
15. Dancing Your Heart Out
There is a motion, I found, that every expectant mama can find. It’s sort of a groove, if you will. It’s a primal rhythm, and if you don’t overthink it, you can really use it to your advantage to help you cope with the pain, I guess kind of like how people sometimes rock back and forth when they’re trying to deal with some pain – hey, maybe that will be your motion!
14. Bring Your Own Kids Into The Room To Watch
I was really quite worried because I thought I’d heard in the brief course we took at our hospital that no kids were allowed in the delivery room. I was relieved to hear after checking with my doctor that – where I live, at least – it’s just other people’s kids that can’t come. It’s not like I wanted my first there specifically; it’s just that what if Grandma didn’t get there in time to watch my first babe at home?
13. Wearing Your Own Outfit
They can’t make you change. I didn’t have time! They told me to go into the bathroom and put on the gown. That nurse must not have heard me moaning like a farm animal as they whisked me past the counter, skipping triage altogether because it was so clear the baby was coming.
12. Coping By Using Strong Fragrances
So here’s the deal: If you have to light it on fire to get the desired fragrance to emanate from it, well then that’s probably going to be a no-go. If you are someone who benefits from fragrant associations, though, you might try those scented wax things without wicks meant for drawers in a favorite calming scent, or something similar.
11. Pushing In The Position You Want
They can’t make you lie on your back to push. They will probably very strongly urge you to, though. Although I was told various positions such as squatting could be the way to go, the nurses had some serious words and expressions to throw my way to try to coax me into lying on my back (which had left me with really bad pain the first time around).
10. Walking Around The Whole Place Like You Own It
You can always ask, nicely, not to be strapped down, attached to a limiting cord or wire, and required to stay in that hospital bed. In fact, staying mobile is known to be one of the main ways women can naturally help birth to progress. Ask for a cordless monitor if you want to, and move and groove it, mama.
9. Moaning Loud As A MoFo
Don’t feel like you need to be quiet. Even though hospitals are so sterile and strange, and there’s just the occasional beep or wheeling of a cart or bed, you can absolutely do what you feel like you need to do to cope with the pain of labor — and women have found throughout history that low, vibrating sounds do the trick.
8. Stealing Baby Supplies
There will be a little bassinet on wheels that will serve as the newborn’s changing station and bed and what have you during many a postpartum hospital stay. Underneath it will be supplies such as newborn diapers, samples of creams, bulb syringes, and more — all of which can absolutely be snagged to bolster your home supply.
7. Bringing Your Own Snacks
“Labor is hard work.” “It’s like running a marathon.” Do these phrases sound familiar? It’s for good reason. And although the preg books may mention needing snacks in case the labor itself is long, I’d say the important part is to have plenty of nutritious stuff for right after, at all hours, when the cafeteria is closed. And maybe some chocolate.
6. Breastfeeding As Long As You Want In The Delivery Room
This is absolutely true: They can’t stop you, and it’s such an important feeding – that first one. However, true story: I refused to unlatch my newborn and the nurse stood there talking to me and telling me it was time to go to the recovery room (with BS reasons) long enough that we got distracted and the feeding ended, so they have their ways…
5. Stocking Your Bag With Postpartum Supplies
I had no idea about all the get-up that would be required during postpartum recovery, but don’t worry: A nurse will show you all the supplies and how to use them. Here are some common ones that you’ll wanna take home with you: disposable mesh briefs, massive sanitary pads, Tucks pad, numbing spray…
4. Being With The Baby At All Times
Although carting the baby off to the nursery so that mom can “get some rest” may have been more common at one time, “rooming in” is more and more normal and even encouraged. Mom plus newborn equals nature’s way of getting good things going, such as bonding and milk production and all those things that matter just a little bit (okay, a LOT).
3. Arriving When You Want (But You Won’t Be Admitted Until You’re Sufficiently Dilated)
First-time moms can tend to rush into the hospital too soon. However, believe me: I understand that you don’t want to get there too late, that you might feel more comfortable being around trained medical professionals (not true for everyone, though, certainly!)… You can head in when you feel like it’s the right time – they just might not be able to admit you right away.
2. Walking The Halls Until You Are So You Don’t Have To Go Home Again
The neat trick I learned in the class I took at our local hospital (which I ended up needing, BTW) was that if you get there too early to be admitted, you don’t need to endure another awful car ride home and back again: Triage nurses will often even encourage mamas to walk the halls of the Labor & Delivery floor to encourage labor to progress.
1. Push When You Feel The Urge To
So these nurses are pros. They will literally be looking at a monitor and telling you when you are having a contraction and should push, in many cases. That doesn’t mean you can’t just listen to your own body and follow your instincts, just like those cave ladies of yore. Just know that an epidural might make it so that you can’t feel what’s going on at all.