If you came upon this article you are very likely part of that 2% of parents who are aware that they have choices when it comes to the medical interventions for you and your newborn at a hospital. Most parents I've learned though don't question them and take the first opportunity they have to wheel away their newborn to the nursery and get some sleep. The funny and odd thing is that even the hospital staff is often oblivious to state laws and labels everything as mandatory and state mandated - even when the literature they pass out to patients states otherwise. With that being said, here are some tips for a natural birth in a medical hospital setting:
1. Know your rights and be prepared: take time to learn your state laws regarding the Hepatitis B vaccination, Vitamin K shot, newborn screening procedures (including PKU), eye drops (erethromycin), and any other injection/medication. You can always bring your own signed waiver if you want to opt out of these procedures, be sure to note the chapters and sections of the laws you refer to for exemption. Most likely you will also have to sign the hospital waiver forms after the birth of the baby. Hey, at least the epidural is not 'mandated'!
2. Bring a birth plan: some medical staff will roll their eyes at this, but I found that most respect it and actually read it. This way you don't have to repeat yourself and you can just ask each nurse from a new shift to please read it. Also, try not to title it as a 'plan' but rather 'birth preferences' or 'birth choices', because a birth does not always go as planned and you don't want to corner yourself. If you want a natural vaginal birth be sure to state that you do not want an epidural (or any other drug) and will ask for one if you feel that you need one. This is also a good place to note if you want to use some natural comfort measures during labor like walking, the birthing ball, or a jacuzzi - many hospitals offer these.
3. Always respect and never belittle or argue with the staff: everyone there is just doing their job and they do have the best intentions even if they are oblivious to state laws, haven't learned anything outside of med school, or they never witnessed a natural birth. I have actually found that a good number of the staff and nurses were inspired by our choices both with the birth and newborn interventions, saying things like 'it is rare these days', 'I would do the same thing', or 'most parents don't even know what these procedures are'. Do not be surprised though to face some scare tactics and intimidation.
4. Have your husband/partner with the newborn at all times: unfortunately there are people in this world to whom the word 'honesty' or 'respect' do not mean much. Just because you signed a bunch of waivers it does not mean that some girl just out of med school will not routinely inject every baby that comes her way because she thinks it is best. Our newborn was rooming in with us the whole stay and visited the nursery with daddy only twice for the PKU testing and the bilirubin test some short hours before we were discharged.
5. Bring a birth doula with you: I did not have the luxury of hiring one, but I did search for one that was in (DONA) training and could offer free services. Studies show that having a birth doula with you reduces the likelihood of having a cesarean.
6. Enjoy the experience! I know it is hard to put the words 'birth' and 'enjoy' in one sentence, but try your best to relax and let your body guide you and do the work for you.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended as medical or legal advice.