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Conversations at the Hospital

You Can Have The Birthing Experience You Desire

Excerpt from Painless Childbirth


When the time finally comes after you’ve been laboring at home for quite some time, you will “know” when it is the right time to go to the hospital if that is where you have decided to birth your baby. The doula who works with you will be able to assess whether you want to go to the hospital because you are in fear or because you are ready.

Having prepared yourself for your labor I would hope that you want to go because you are ready, not because you are panicking. So what can you expect? There are two major reactions to entering the hospital – a conscious, “rational” one and the unconscious, “emotional” one.

You have consciously prepared yourself for this. You know you are simply using the medical facility but that you’ll bring your “home” with you. In other words, you will essentially continue to labor naturally while there, with the help of your team. You’ll abide by the facility’s rules that include their need to monitor you for the first twenty minutes or half an hour, and check you both vaginally and otherwise (blood pressure, temperature, etc.). But after you are admitted you will know that you may insist on being able to move around, walk, and even take a shower if you need to, to cope with your contractions.

Unconsciously, your entire being will have a tendency to say “Hey, we are going to the hospital, something is wrong!” After all, that has been your experience in the past. Furthermore, most hospitals will insist that you sit in a wheel chair on your way to Admissions; a practice that can make you feel powerless. It is as if there is something seriously “wrong” with you, that you aren’t even to walk to your room. You are stripped of your comfy home clothes and asked to put on a “hospital” gown, after which you are even visually just like all the other “patients” at the hospital. It becomes hard to avoid the feeling that you are there because there is something “wrong” with you.

Then the word games begin. Following are a few scenarios I have personally witnessed. But remember the possibilities are infinite. Use your natural instinct and make sure all decisions are made with your informed consent.

Depending on the nursing staff and your care provider, once you enter their territory they will often begin telling you what you should do, how and when you should do it, and why. The reasons why may include such rationales as “It is for your own good” and “You do not need to be a hero and take the pain,” and “The health of the baby is the most important thing.” While these are all true and good statements, it seems no one is asking for your opinion. Rather they are making big broad statements based on their own fears, desires and opinions. We love the medical staff that helps us at the hospital, but we want and need their medical opinion and not their personal.  Actually what we really want is to be heard and respected. So when you arrive at the hospital all the work you have done so far, all the knowledge you have received by your childbirth educator, your doula, or the books you have read, must crystallize if you want to have the kind of birthing experience you have been working towards, dreamed of, and feel entitled to.

I suggest that before you go to the hospital you review your plan with your doula and/or support system. There is never truly a rush to go to the hospital unless it is an emergency[1].  If it is an emergency, remember that at this point you will become indeed a “patient” but that you are armed with information. You will then listen carefully to their suggestions, ask explanations for each procedure and make informed decisions. When you are a patient and your life is at risk don’t be stubborn. Let them do their job. That’s what they’re there for, and they do it well.

Here are the seven “Informed Consent” questions to remember:

1. Why is this an emergency? Do we have time to talk or think about this?

2. What are the benefits of doing this?

3. What are the risks?

4. If we do this, what other procedures or treatments might we end up needing as a result?

5. What else can you suggest we try first or instead?

6. What would happen if we waited an hour or two (a day or two, a week or two, etc.) before doing it?

7. What would happen if we didn’t do it at all?

Doctors are invaluable when it comes to emergencies. They are good at what they do, and they are there to help.

Assuming all is well, before you go to the hospital please review the following. This will take only five minutes, but those few minutes can truly make a world of difference.

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