As you reach the end of your pregnancy, the thought of labor and delivery can be intimidating for many women. And while hospitals offer a safe, sterile environment for your child’s birth, the constant monitoring and interventions may feel overwhelming to some expectant mothers. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to make sure you are getting the most out of your hospital experience, regardless of your birth plan.
“We’ve noticed that more women are looking for alternative birthing options opposed to your standard hospital delivery,” says Sara Lebovic, CNM, a certified nurse midwife for Henry Ford Health.
“This is often due to the feeling that you’ve lost body autonomy and are vulnerable in an already vulnerable situation. We hear women and want to help find more of a balance.”
The Benefits Of A Hospital Delivery
What many women don’t realize is that your hospital birth experience doesn’t have to be as clinical. Working with a midwifery team at a hospital allows you to have a more holistic birth with the option of having medical intervention if needed.
“At a hospital, we have access to emergency services and resources right down the hall so there is no delay in care,” says Lebovic.
What To Expect From A Midwife-Lead Hospital Delivery
“As midwives, our approach is to create a more comfortable experience for women during labor,” says Lebovic. “We want women to feel safe, humanized and a part of the decision-making process from start to finish.”
Midwives focus on a more high-touch, low-tech birth approach. The idea behind this birthing option is to bring the process back to a more individualized experience through holistic approaches.
During labor, your midwife will be right at your side – laboring with you and listening to you. Their goal is to guide you through labor while allowing you to make decisions about your care the entire time.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t get medical intervention if you want. “Birth can be unpredictable, but you can change your birth plan at any time,” says Lebovic. “There are layers of intervention that we can use if needed or if you change your mind. Your midwife is there to help you make choices that work best for you.”
How To Get The Labor And Delivery Experience You Deserve
Before you head to the hospital for your delivery, there are things you can do to make sure you are getting the most out of your delivery experience.
During your pregnancy
- Think about your birth plan. Consider what sort of experience you would like to have during labor and delivery. Are you open to medical intervention? What is the plan if your labor isn’t progressing? Remember, birth can be unpredictable. While it is not guaranteed things will go exactly to plan, there are still modifications that can be made during your birth experience to make things more comfortable for you.
- Find the right provider. Talk with your provider early on in your pregnancy about what you’d like out of your labor and delivery experience. Your provider will help point you in the direction of the care you want.
- Understand your risk. If you are a high-risk pregnancy patient, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a more holistic birth experience. Work with your care team before your delivery to determine what sorts of modification can be done. “In high-risk cases, it is all about balance, safety and intervention when necessary,” Lebovic adds.
- Do your research. Even before labor begins, make sure you are openly communicating with your care team. Ask questions and learn what your options are for a modified your experience.
- Get yourself prepared. Labor and delivery can be a high-stress situation for some women. Throughout your pregnancy, be sure to practice coping skills and advocating for yourself. These tools will help you through labor and to speak up if needed.
The hospital has many items on hand to help you feel more comfortable during labor, though many expectant mothers feel most comfortable with similar items that they bring from home. Common comforts that Lebovic sees patients bring in include:
- Toiletries (shampoos, lotion, makeup)
- Speakers or headphones
- Snacks and drinks
- Heating pads
- Photos of family
- Notes of encouragement
Additionally, many birthing units offer water as a way to help you relax throughout labor – either through taking a shower or soaking in the bath.
Is An Alternative Birth Plan Right For Me?
Getting the most out of your labor and delivery experience is based primarily on your communication with your provider and care team. Make sure to let them know early on if you’d like to explore alternative birth options. From there, the process can be very fluid as long as you are able to advocate for yourself.
“You have to have a sense of comfort and understanding with your labor and delivery team,” says Lebovic. “If something is bothering you or you are unsure about your proposed birth plan, speak up. The last thing your provider wants to do is take away your sense of control during this time.”
To learn more about midwifery services at Henry Ford, visit henryford.com/services/baby/midwifery-services or call 1-800-436-7936.
Sara Lebovic is a certified nurse midwife who sees patients at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital.