Want to have a natural birth in a hospital? Do these 3 things

Are you wanting to have a natural birth in a hospital? Are you assuming that you can just write this in your birth plan and then leave it in the hands of your medical team?

You might need to think again. I say this with absolutely no judgement. This is exactly what I expected going into birth for the first time. Spoiler alert – that plan failed miserably.

Instead, I ended up with a stretch and sweep I didn’t ask for. I agreed to have them break my waters unnecessarily, and then ended up with an episiotomy and forceps delivery.

It wasn’t exactly the natural, calm, unassisted birth I’d imagined.

After a pregnancy yoga class recently my students were sharing how they were feeling pressure to induce their babies as they approached 40 weeks. For no medical reason other than they were now considered ‘full term’. Some, just because their doctor was going on holidays. (Insert eye-roll here).

Most of these women were having second babies, so they know how it goes. You say ‘yes’ to one intervention and it often snowballs into more.

As it turns out, I have a lot to say on what you need to do to prepare yourself to have a natural birth in a hospital.

My second and third boys were born in hospitals. Both of their births were natural, hands off, empowering experiences. But this didn’t just happen by magic. I prepared myself for them.

Read on, or watch the video below if you want to learn how to prepare yourself to have the birth you want in a hospital setting.

natural birth in a hospital

How to prepare yourself for a natural birth in a hospital.

Educate yourself

You need to know (prior to labour) how your body works during labour and birth and how you can work with it. You also need to know how medical interventions will likely impact the natural process (so you can choose wisely).

While we go into this in a lot more detail in my Birth Course inside the Online Yoga Circle here’s the short version.

Like any animal, your body is designed to birth smoothly when it feels safe and warm. If you’ve ever had a pregnant cat or dog, you’ll know they find a warm, dark spot to birth in. They choose a spot that is safely away from any threats. After all we are most vulnerable when we are giving birth.

When you feel safe, your hormones work to contract the muscles of your uterus to open the cervix and to push your baby out.

Your body is super smart though. It knows that stress means threat. When it feels stressed it will slow or stop labour and instead divert the energy to your extremities (your arms and legs) so that you can fight or flee. Clever right?

This would have been super helpful when we were birthing in caves. Except your body can’t tell the difference between stress you are feeling over a potential threat (I.E a tiger about to eat you) and your Doctor asking you to make a decision about an intervention.

We might even get stressed about just being in a hospital (I know my labours have all slowed on arrival to the hospital, even after they were pumping at home). Then we have all the routine tests that they want to do on arrival (internals, monitoring, etc).

Before you know it you are having a conversation with your Doctor about ‘moving things along’ because your labour has slowed or stopped. If you’re feeling educated about all this though, you’ll be more inclined to say ‘No thanks Doc, just piss off for a bit hey, and this baby will be out in no time’. (Actually probably don’t tell your doctor to piss off, but you get my point).

Learn how to relax on demand

While it’s great to know how your body works during labour and why you want to avoid stress as much as possible, you also need to know how to relax during labour and birth. Let’s not pretend that contractions don’t hurt. They do. A contraction is the uterus working hard. It’s similar to how your leg muscles might feel when you run a marathon.

It’s important that when you feel your uterus contracting you have tools to help you relax and breathe through them. We know that tensing and tightening your muscles while having a contraction makes them feel more painful.

Things that helped me to move through each contraction and be able to relax were:

– breathing (to relax my body to let go during contractions and to save energy between them)

– having an internal focus (so that I wasn’t wasting energy outside of myself)

– movement (rocking and swaying on hands and knees)

– mindset and affirmation (being able to talk myself around when the contractions felt overwhelming)

Get your partner on board.

Here’s the thing. When you labour in a hospital it’s likely that at some point you’re going to have to make decisions.

Will you say yes to internal examinations?

What pain relief options do you want to use, if any?

Do you want to ‘move things along’ if labour stalls?

Here’s the thing though. During labour is not the time to be thinking about these decisions for the first time.

Ideally you will have already had these conversations with your support partner so that during labour you can stay internally focused. This is going to help you stay relaxed and not be pulled into the stress of the medical system.

Your support person should be your go-between with your doctors and nurses. They can ask the questions – ‘What happens if we just wait?’, ‘Is there any medical danger to either Mum and Bub if we don’t choose what you are offering?’, ‘What are the alternatives?’.

Then, if needed, they can relay information to you if you really do need to make a decision based on a medical emergency. In most cases you won’t even need to hear about what’s going on around you, because you will be too busy birthing your babe.

Bottom line. Your support person needs to be really clear on your preferences and choices and be able to stand up for what you want under a potentially stressful situation.

Side note. Birth does not have to be stressful in a hospital. But it can certainly feel that way when you have never birthed before and you’re feeling unsure about all the options. Do the work to prepare yourself and your support partner before you even have your first contraction.

If you are ready to start preparing to have a natural birth in a hospital, I’d love to invite you to my Online Yoga Circle membership. Inside you’ll find my full Yoga Wisdom for Birth course, as well as Yoga for Birth classes to help you practise the tools you’ll need during labour.

In the meantime I’ll be sending you love and strength for birth. You’ve got this.

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