Posted: Dec 05, 2013 8:00 AM
 
I've always wanted to give birth naturally, but a home birth seemed a little too "crunchy." So, four years ago, I had a completely natural birth at a hospital, with an OB-GYN. Sept. 1 I did it again, this time with a midwife, but still at a hospital. Both times I went in armed with a multi-page birth plan, expecting to fight "the system." Turns out I didn't have to do much fighting at all, but I did have a few tricks up my sleeve to help my cause.

When I realized my insurance wouldn't cover a home birth, I thought for sure "the man" was cheating me out of the intervention-free birth I wanted so much. I hired a doula, wrote out a multi-page birth plan, and switched to a different hospital. I managed a needle-free, hassle-free birth experience then, and again a couple of months ago with my second child even at a different hospital. It's possible, if you're prepared. Here's what I did to ready myself for natural birth in a hospital:

Read up

Know what you want and why you want it. Understand as much of the science as you can. Maybe most importantly, know what you don't want, and why. I did not want an IV — not even a saline lock — because my veins are tricky and I didn't want to endure the stress of multiple needle sticks while in labor. I also did not want an epidural and was considered "low risk," so there was no need for an IV.

Have support

My husband was prepared to duke it out with the hospital if the need presented itself. It didn't. But it was a load off my mind knowing if there was conflict, I had someone in my corner who could speak for me with confidence and authority.

Both times I was in labor, I was surprised at the clarity of my thoughts, but I was completely unable to express them. Childbirth hurts. Expect it to leave you speechless. I discussed my wishes with my "team" way beforehand. My husband was prepared to duke it out with the hospital if the need presented itself. It didn't. But it was a load off my mind knowing if there was conflict, I had someone in my corner who could speak for me with confidence and authority. A written birth plan is helpful for your OB-GYN, but keep it simple. If they did read my four-page list of instructions, there's no way they remembered what it said. One page or less!

You're a patient

...Not a prisoner! My doula shared this wisdom with me, and it helped me to relax. The hospital can't do anything to you without your consent. No need to be up in arms. Just politely let them know you'd like to refuse certain procedures and medications. They will likely then advise you of the risks of refusing their recommendations. Smile. Listen. Then say, "OK. Thank you! I'd still like to refuse it. Is there a release I need to sign?" No need for debate. Be kind, firm and respectful.

Be realistic

With both pregnancies I said, "I don't want an epidural, but I reserve the right to change my mind!" Know that plans can change, and it's nothing to dread or feel guilty about. If I'd needed an emergency C-section, my birth plan would have gone out the window, and I was prepared for that. Childbirth is not an emergency, but if one should present itself, remember that your doctor is trained to know what to do. If you or your baby's life is in jeopardy, let your caretakers help.

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