Heavily pregnant and ready to pop, it may be time to start writing a birth plan for those haven't already. Birth plans are there to aid the medical professionals during the labor and delivery to make sure that they know what the laboring woman is hoping for from the experience. All hospitals aim to make Mother and baby or babies happy as well as their families and they all want a happy, healthy experience.
The rules, regulations, and recommendations differ from each country, a factor that all expectant mothers need to be aware of when they are on the brink of bringing a child into the world.
From the "no men allowed" rule, all the way to being instructed to scream the baby out, when looking at these rules you will see that they are not all straightforward and include some wacky and weird guidelines that some of us would never have heard of before. So whether you are just here out of curiosity or you would like to be more informed of what your rights are via your maternity care in different countries. Here are 15 maternity ward rules that moms need to be aware of for a successful birth.
15 Finland - The Baby Goes In The Box
Moving onto Finland now, there is a tradition that has been around in maternity hospitals for over 80 years. In fact, Finnish hospitals have actually been trying to encourage hospitals in others countries to follow their lead on this initiative.
This tradition is called the 'Baby Box' where each mother receives a cardboard box for their new baby.
A cardboard box? What use is that? Well, the baby box is filled with essentials (clothes, nappies etc) and at the bottom of the box is a mattress meaning the box can be a bed first. According to BabyBoxco, this baby box has become so popular and much talked about in the news around the world that people even opt to purchase it if they live in a country where they do not receive one from their maternity ward.
Those of you who are parents reading this, you will know that having a baby is expensive especially when it comes to things like furniture and clothes so you can see why this baby box is an amazing idea. This tradition was introduced so that every new baby could have a great start in life and have everything they need for at least the first month no matter what the income of the family was. Imagine going in to have your baby and being given a box filled with free stuff for your bundle of joy, that is what you want.
14 Spain - Bring In The Family
Shooting off to Spain now for our next entry, this one involves the entire family. In Spain c-section rates are low, this could be for many reasons but many believe that the country has been able to keep the rate low and promote natural labor and delivery because of one simple rule about the expectant mother's family.
If the woman in the hospital so desires, her whole family is allowed to be present during the labor and delivery of her child for support. No doctors and no nurses, only one midwife is allowed on site. Doctors are, however, called in case of an emergency.
It used to be that many families opted for a home birth in order to have their entire family round as this rule was not always in place but since maternity wards in Spain decided on making this change many women are now happy to have a hospital birth surrounded by their loved ones. From siblings, parents and grandparents to aunts, uncles, cousins, children, you name a family member that you wish to be there and you can have then there no questions asked. Number limits may apply depending on the size of the room and anyone who causes distress for the mother or causes a disturbance will be asked to leave. (Information gathered from expatica.com)
13 Poland - Women Have To Birth In A Chair
In most countries around the world women are able to birth in any position they want as long as it is safe for both them and the baby whether that be on a bed, standing, sitting, squatting, in a birthing pool, whatever birthing position they are most comfortable in is best. In Poland, however, there are much stricter rules in their maternity ward and women are advised to stay in one specific birthing position and have much less choice than in other hospitals across the world.
In Poland, Women are required to give birth in birthing chairs and highly discouraged from changing into any other position.
The birthing chair has evolved over many years where it used to be a metal/wooden, cold and very uncomfortable looking chair - now they are smaller, much more comfortable and more like a stool than a chair. The medical professionals in Poland see using the birthing chair as the easiest, safest and most efficient way to bring a new life into the world hence why they highly encourage you to use said chair - even having rooms with just the chair and no bed. So if this is not for you maybe steer clear of birthing in Poland. (Information gathered from independant.ie).
12 Nepal - No Men Allowed
The first entry on our list of maternity ward rules moms need to be aware of is one that may upset many male readers as this rule many people would agree is somewhat sexist and not necessarily in the best interest of all involved in bringing a child into the world. This includes the expectant mother and child.
Counting on the man in your life, the father of your child to be there to help you through labor and delivery? Picturing the moment your baby is born, the new life that you and your partner made together would be an amazing family moment, right? Wrong.
Well, not in Nepal anyway as their old-fashioned views and traditional hospitals take you back in time as no men are allowed in the maternity ward, no matter how they are related to you.
This is not just for the labor and delivery either, if at all through your pregnancy you are hospitalized and the days after birth, no male is allowed to visit you. Heart-breaking for new dads and excited grandfathers but those are the rules unfortunately and at the moment there is no changing it. So if you are looking forward to the male's in your life being able to share in the joy of your new baby, maybe think about birthing somewhere other than Nepal. (Information gathered from wordpulse.com)
11 England - 24 Hour Visitation
Straying away from Nepal now and moving to England, United Kingdom, the maternity ward rules here are a big contrast to the one we previously mentioned about men not being allowed visitation. In this instance, men are allowed visitation whenever they see fit, or at least the father of the child/partner of the mother is.
Many hospitals in England have adopted the rule that the father of the child, or partner of the woman in labor, and any other children she may have, are allowed to visit whenever they want in a 24 hour time period. No set visitation times and no limits as to how long they can stay for, as long as the mother says she is happy to have them with her in the hospital and they do not cause any disturbances for the other woman, babies, families or medical staff in the ward, they are allowed to come and go as they please.
As for other family members and visitors (including men this time) they have a more restricted visitation allowance, for example between the hours of 9am-5pm but that still is a fair amount of time to be able to see the new baby and the mother, according to Manchester Evening News.
10 UK And US - No Under 16's
Let's stay in the United Kingdom for another moment. The following maternity ward rule that all moms must know also applies in the United States of America. It is time to talk about those tiny babies who perhaps escaped from the womb a bit too soon and need a little bit of help in the special care unit.
Babies who are born premature (before the 37th week of pregnancy), depending on how they are after the birth (if they are taking in oxygen easily for example), they may need to unfortunately be taken away from the mother and father and placed into a special care/neonatal unit to be cared for and watched with greater attention by medical staff. Sometimes the mother may even be discharged from the hospital before her baby which, as you can imagine, would be a very difficult time for anyone involved.
Visitation, however, is encouraged and available to the mother, father, and grandparents as often as they would like but when it comes to children, maybe siblings who are eager to meet their baby brother or sister, are not allowed in the hospital unless they are sick, or 16 years old. They are restricted from the special care unit due to the risk of passing germs or diseases to the newborn.
This is of course what is best for the newborn baby and gives them the best possible chance of growing, thriving and potentially getting home where they belong. Although this may be hard for other little ones to understand, it has to be done and they cannot visit until the baby is transferred out of the special care unit or discharged home, according to NHS.co.uk.
9 Italy - One Person Only
Let's now talk about a rule in maternity wards specifically found in Italian hospitals now, which may be a tough one for those who are close to many of their family members and would like multiple people to witness the birth of their child.
Other countries such as the United Kingdom, United States of America and Spain allow 2, 3 or maybe even more birthing partners in the delivery room with you depending on the hospitals and type of birth. In Italy, there is only 1 birthing partner of the mother's choosing allowed in the maternity ward. A hard choice for many women to make as many women like to have the father of their child and their mother in the room with them for support as they bring new life into the world. I personally had those exact two people as my birthing partners, my Mum, and my partner.
According to TheLocal.it, there may be the possibility if you have a long labor for you to have two birthing partners but they would have to take turns in the room and ultimately only one would be there for the actual birth of your child.
8 UK And US - Need To Stay Put
Once again staying in the United Kingdom and also the United States of America, this is another rule in place in many maternity wards that are important for expectant mothers to know about.
Whether you go into labor naturally and rush to the hospital, are in the hospital weeks or maybe even months before your due date, because of medical reasons, or you are booked in for an induction or perhaps planned cesarean section,
it is likely that once you have been admitted you won't be allowed to leave until you have your baby in your arms in a healthy and happy state.
Of course, you have free will and human rights so maybe "you won't be allowed to leave" is a bit extreme, but it is recommended that you do not stray too far from the hospital or discharge yourself before your baby is born. This is due to the regular checks you and your unborn child will be having and the likelihood of you going into labor. So to keep it short and sweet, stay put mom-to-be and try rest while you can, as recommended by NHS.co.uk.
7 Britain - Keep Mom And Baby Together
The mother and child bond is something viewed universally as very important which means the majority of the time, especially when the baby is newborn and very young, in the majority of countries around the world, it is recommended that the mother and baby are never separated for a long period of time or at all if it can be helped.
However, this is not necessarily a rule in maternity wards around the world, but in the United Kingdom and United States of America, it is just that, a rule.
Hospitals across Britain and America do instruct medical staff that the separation of mother and baby is to be avoided at all costs and skin to skin is encouraged.
If an emergency occurs which could be life or death for mother or child, which means they must be isolated from each other, it is the main priority of the doctors and nurses that after that emergency is over they must join mother and baby together once again as soon as possible.
It is very important to establish a bond between mother and child in the early days, it makes life easier for the both of them and starts everyone off on the right foot. So no wonder this rule is so imperative. (Information gathered from NHS.co.uk)
6 Australia - Dad Stays
As in the previous entries on this list, a lot of the time there are limitations on how much time family and friends can spend in the maternity ward - these rules even apply to birthing partners. No one is allowed to stay in the hospital with the mother and baby the entire time, unfortunately, not even the father or the baby... or is that about to change.
Yes, in many countries it is still the case that the father of the baby, or partner of the mother, is either not allowed in the maternity ward at all or if chosen to be a birthing partner they can only stay through the labor, and for a limited time after birth until the mother and newborn are moved to recovery. Then they must leave and come back during normal visiting hours.
In Australia however, the rules in maternity wards are changing, and now the father of the child or partner of the mother is allowed to stay in the hospital for the entire duration of the stay
to provide support and comfort. According to The Telegraph, no matter what time of day, they will not be asked to leave unless they cause a disturbance or the mother requests it.
5 UK And US - Informed Consent...
By definition, informed consent is "permission granted in full knowledge of the possible consequences, typically that which is given by a patient to a doctor for treatment with knowledge of the possible risks and benefits".
All women before, after, and during labor and delivery have the right to informed consent, and no treatment or procedure can be undergone without obtaining this from the woman in the maternity ward.
This maternity ward rule is valid in the majority of hospitals around the world, how they put this into place, however, varies in different hospitals.
For example, in the United Kingdom and the United States, women are required to sign a form consenting to procedures after they consent to it and are in full understanding of the pros, cons, and risks associated with having a cesarean section. In a maternity ward, the staff is there to assist you in your birth, give you the support you require and make sure you and your child are healthy and safe. As a patient, you may feel that you have to go along with everything you are told and what they advise, but ultimately you are in charge of your birth and you can say yes or no to whatever you wish.
As Babble points out, in some cases where the woman is unconscious or not of sound mind an appointed family member may be asked to give informed consent for them.
4 ... Except In Emergencies
Continuing on from the previous entry on this list, informed consent, or consent at all, in that matter can be thrown out the window by doctors and nurses in very specific situations. In emergency situations where the Mother or child is in a life-threatening situation meaning either or both of them may lose their life/lives, medical staff have the right to continue with a treatment or procedure without obtaining informed consent or consent from the Mother or other family members to save their lives, as pointed out by Babble.
Sounds crazy that, as a Mother in a maternity ward, that you or your baby can undergo a procedure that you have not said yes to or know anything about, but in the situations where you or your little one may lose your lives, time may be sensitive and you would much rather be saved rather than medical staff pausing to obtain informed consent.
A tough choice for anyone to make whether that be the medical staff or patient on the maternity ward. I think what everyone would agree that saving lives is what is important and everyone wants the mother newborn to return home safe and sound.
3 Europe And US - The Right To Refuse Tests
During pregnancy, not just labor and delivery, pregnant women may be in and out of doctors' offices, hospitals or maternity wards quite often depending on their health, the baby's health and how the pregnancy is going overall. According to NHS.co.uk, some woman may have to get several tests for different reasons during the pregnancy, and may also be offered additional tests for their unborn child. But they do not have to say yes to any of these tests if they do not want to, and refusing them is the right of the expectant mother.
In my personal experience, when I was pregnant with my daughter who is now 13 months old, I was told from blood tests and scans that she had a 1 in 5 of having downs syndrome. I was then offered a test called amniocentesis which would tell me if my child would have downs syndrome but it would also risk the chance of me losing the baby.
So I declined the test as I knew no matter what I wanted this baby in my arms and did not want to risk miscarriage.
Refusing the offered test was my right and I decided to exercise it just as many pregnant women across the world do specifically in the United Kingdom, Unites States and Europe.
2 Italy - Scream The Baby Out
Staying in Italy for this next entry, there is one very strange rule in a maternity ward that Italians believe really works and can help you through labor - and that rule is that you must scream through your contractions.
Sounds strange right?
Well according to the medical professionals in Italy, screaming through your labor and delivery can help thin your cervix, therefore, moving your labor forward and getting the baby out safe and sound via a natural delivery.
Many midwives will insist you scream as loud as you can in order for you to progress through your labor, according to TheLocal.it.
Of course, no one can force you to scream and shout and it is your right to refuse or not give consent to doing such things, but it is highly recommended that you do so. Let's be honest, you are probably going to be screaming anyway because of the pain so the midwives and nurses most likely won't even need to ask you to start screaming as you will make that choice all on your own.
1 Around The World - Feeding Can Be Highly Scrutinized
Again this is a rule in maternity wards that span across the world and in life in general, it is a Mothers right to choose how she wants to feed her child (breast or bottle feeding) and on what schedule. Yes, in different countries people are pro different forms of feeding ad different scheduled so a Mother may likely be encouraged/discouraged by the views and opinions surrounding her and the baby, but ultimately it is the Mother's decision and no one can tell her what to do or make that choice for her.
Breastfeeding is viewed as the best option for a baby by the majority, and women are often looked down upon if they do not breastfeed. Yet breastfeeding in public is also judged negatively by many. Bottle feeding is sometimes the only option for some mothers and babies and so that is the route they choose to go down.
Whatever method and schedule of feeding that a mother chooses, everyone should keep in mind that it is not their place to judge, it is not their choice and ultimately we should all have the mindset that fed is best. As pointed out by NHS.co.uk, mothers need support not judgment especially in the early weeks of a motherhood when confidence is often low and baby blues is very prevalent.
References: Independant.ie, NHS.co.uk, Babble.com, Expatica.com, babyboxco.com, thelocal.it, telegraph.co.uk, worldpulse.com