There is not one “right way” to have a baby. Some people decide to have babies at home, others a hospital, and now in Atlanta, you have the option of having a baby at a birth center. Keep in mind that any choice you make is right for you because you have made it based on your circumstances, family, and pregnancy details. Early in my pregnancy, I knew my goal was to have an unmedicated hospital birth.
I was mindful that this “plan” might change in the weeks leading up to the birth, or the day of, depending on what was happening. In the end, my plan became a reality, but not without a few bumps in the road – like my water breaking without active labor actually starting. We welcomed our daughter Carter at Northside Hospital (yes, a birth without drugs is possible at “The Baby Factory”) in September 2014.
Preparation (and possibly alignment of the stars that day) helped me achieve the unmedicated hospital birth I was looking for. Here is some advice, tips, and local resources that you may want to check out if you are also considering a hospital birth without drugs…
Decide how vocal you want to be about your decision:
Some moms like to shout their birth plans from the rooftops and others keep it quiet. Both strategies work and have their advantages. I was part of the second group mainly because I am a wimp. I consider myself to have a low pain tolerance and I wasn’t sure if I would change my mind when I actually went into labor. It would have been fine if I changed my mind, but I felt like it would be easier to adjust my plan and still be happy with my experience if a bunch of people weren’t expecting me to do something that didn’t happen. Also, as you will find out after the baby comes, everyone has an opinion. I didn’t want to go 9 months hearing how crazy I was for wanting an unmedicated birth. The friends and family we did tell were very supportive. Reaching out to other moms who also had unmedicated hospital births was helpful and their advice and guidance were invaluable!
Do some research or take a class:
I will admit, I am a little bit of a control freak. Because of this, I wanted to be as informed as possible about what would happen during the birth and what situations we might find ourselves in. For me, it was important to take a birth class that not only explained the birth process but also shared relaxation and pain management techniques. There many classes, strategies, techniques you can use to prepare for the birth. Some classes available in Atlanta include:
- Confident Childbirth of Atlanta – http://www.confidentchildbirthofatlanta.com This is the class I took and highly recommend it!
- Bradley Method – http://www.bradleybirth.com Use their class search tool to locate a class near you.
- The Morgan Method, HypnoBirthing – https://us.hypnobirthing.com/parents/find-a-hypnobirthing-instructor
- Lamaze – http://www.lamaze.org/FindALamazeChildbirthClass
In addition to taking a class, I read as much as possible. I loved reading birth stories from other moms who had unmedicated hospital births. This helped me visualize what I might experience. To find the stories I mainly googled “unmedicated hospital birth story.” Some books that I found helpful were (most I checked out from my local library):
- Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds
- Homebirth in the Hospital
- Ina Mays Guide to Childbirth
Surround yourself with a supportive team:
Building a supportive birth team is important to help you achieve your birth goals. Make sure your partner is on board with your plans and if possible attends class with you. I would send my husband articles to read, discuss what he should do if/when I ask for drugs (he did great when I asked what my drug options were twice), and tasked him with creating a birth playlist. 🙂 Also, be sure you bring your healthcare provider in on your plan. Talk about what your goals are and ask how they would approach different situations (like how long you can wait before arriving at the hospital and what they would do if labor stopped progressing). Some OBGYNs also have midwives on staff now. I switched from my OB to see a midwife early in my pregnancy (the practice I go to is Roswell OBGYN). A final person you might want on your team is a doula. A doula will attend your birth, help you carry out your birth plan, facilitate communication between you and your healthcare provider, and can help with emotional and physical relaxation techniques during labor (DONA International). There are many doulas in Atlanta. While I didn’t use a doula, you might find it helpful to locate one by using the DONA directory which lists DONA Certified doulas by state http://apps.dona.org/Directory/Search.
Keeping an open mind about your birth plan is key. I did not expect for my water to break without contractions actually starting, but that is what happened. Having an idea of what my options were and having an open dialogue with my midwife allowed me to still have the unmedicated hospital birth I was seeking. Remembering that a healthy baby and healthy mom (where the mom feels respected and supported) is the ultimate goal and what everyone is working toward.
Pregnancy and birth (any way it happens) are “natural” processes. No matter how your baby comes into the world you are a strong mama for making the right decisions for your family! Did you have any unmedicated hospital birth? If so, are there any resources or tips you would have included here?