The moment has arrived. What moment? Just that life altering moment when she becomes a mother. Yes, the biggie. Childbirth. After having been through hours of labor, contractions and all the other things that the body goes through in preparation for delivery, she is steps away from her life changing forever as she knows it. Excited? Yes. In pain? Yes. Having a lot of choice in what she does next? Not always. See, while many women have birth plans, not everything is under a woman’s control in a hospital setting. The hospital is its own business and has to run on a schedule, so mama may have to compromise with some of the things she wanted in her birth plan.
What kinds of things is mom not allowed to do in the moments leading up to childbirth? Some of the restrictions make perfect sense as they could lead to lawsuits. Others are just a precautionary measure so doctors don’t have to worry about a mom’s future safety. But there are some that just seem strange. Mom might wonder why this is not allowed. She always has the right to ask and to get an explanation.
She should inform herself of all her options so that there are no misunderstandings. A woman has the right to choose the birth she wants, but she needs to make sure that she knows what she can and can’t do in a hospital setting. So here are 15 things women are actually not allowed to do during childbirth.
15 Eating And Drinking
Some women think that it would be okay to eat something light at the beginning of labor. After all, they are in for the marathon of their lives, pushing another human being out into the world. Would you want to run a marathon with no gas in the tank? Or go through a 24 hour labor having eaten nothing? Unfortunately, most hospitals do not allow snacking or eating anything once a woman is admitted to hospital in labor.
They are afraid of asphyxiation or choking on food that is in her stomach once the contractions get longer and more intense. Doctors also prefer the woman has an empty stomach in case she needs surgical interventions. There are some hospitals that are coming around to allowing light protein snacks or bars, but it is best that the woman check in advance to be sure.
14 Getting Out Of Bed
Another thing that surprises many women is that hospitals do not always allow a laboring woman to move around and get out of bed. Sometimes her back may cramp or her legs will get sore, so she’ll want to get out from bed and walk around her hospital room or down the corridor. Doctors prefer that a woman stays put in case an issue occurs, especially if her pregnancy is considered high-risk. They want her in her room so interventions can be started that much sooner.
Changing positions in bed can be complicated as she is connected to an IV or other monitors. However, with a low-risk pregnancy, many hospitals are now becoming a little more flexible in what they allow. For mamas without many health concerns, they may be able to move around their hospital room or even go for a walk with their partner down the hallway.
13 Having The Birth Experience Photographed
Some women and their partners want the birth experience commemorated for years to come. They assume that as long as a photographer is discreet, having the birth photographed would be no problem. However, it really depends on the hospital. Hospitals are often not comfortable with photography in the birth room as they find it to be distracting for the medical professionals. The hospital may have their own photographer who they have worked with and who knows not to get in the way.
They may be nervous if a family decides to bring in someone unfamiliar with their hospital. In the end, the hospital makes the final call. If a mom knows in advance that this is important, she can look into birthing at another hospital or birthing center where photography is permitted.
12 Not Having An IV
An IV is something many women think they can opt out of in a hospital birth. This is another tricky area because often they have no choice. Even in a low-risk hospital birth, many doctors will want the IV inserted in case any complications or problems occur. Intravenous liquids are given to keep the woman hydrated, and should she need medication further down the road, it can be administered directly to the woman without having to worry about inserting the IV at the time.
If she and the baby urgently need surgery, like a c-section, doctors can quickly get to work without worrying about inserting an IV. It’s important that women know about the necessity of having an IV put in beforehand. If her pregnancy is low-risk, she may be able to opt out, but again needs to discuss this in advance with her doctor.
11 Pushing When They Want
Many women think that birthing in a hospital is as simple as dilating to their full ten centimeters then pushing when they feel that it is the time to begin. In many cases, the woman does know when to start pushing, especially if this is not her first pregnancy. Her body will often instinctively know when to release the baby the majority of the time. However, this is only when the pregnancy is low-risk and there were no added complications in the pregnancy or during labor.
If the pregnancy carried some risk, a doctor will likely be present. Medical staff may ask the soon-to-be mama to hold off on pushing until the whole team is in the delivery room. They will also be monitoring the baby and may decide that pushing at that time is unsafe.
10 Refusing Induction
Most women do not want an induction - to induce labor. We can’t blame them. It basically speeds up contractions and the pain of delivery as there is no gradual buildup to the contractions or ability to manage the pain of labor. However, if labor is being induced, it is because the baby is overdue and/or there is some other complication that is occurring. Again, the hospital does not want to risk anything worse happening to the woman or her baby.
They weigh the pros and cons of the situation and may choose to induce if the baby needs to come out sooner to keep both mom and baby safe. If there is a complication with baby, the sooner the baby is born, the sooner the hospital can help. Sometimes though, this process can exacerbate the situation and, as many women have argued, make the risk of a c-section very high. Again, doctors prefer that to dealing with the unknown.
9 Opting Out Of Fetal Monitoring
Many women also do not like having a fetal monitor attached to their stomach. It impedes their movement around the room, and puts a damper on any other idea of trying out different birthing positions while in labor. If things are progressing smoothly, and it was a low-risk pregnancy, she may be able to eventually have it removed, though it is a difficult call for hospitals to make.
It also does tend to be put on if there are potential issues with labor getting started or stalling or issues like fetal or maternal distress. Other times women have argued that though it is comforting listening to their baby’s movement, it could also cause stress if baby has quiet moments. This could affect the progress of labor and a safe delivery too.
8 Refusing Cervical Checks
Women may also have to tolerate many cervical checks throughout labor so medical staff can view their progress. As they are trying to serve a number of patients all at the same time, her doctor needs to see how long she may take to deliver her baby. Yes, every woman and every baby is different, so all of this is really relative to each individual case. But these exams and checks are the general yardstick that hospitals use to see how fast the baby is coming. Again, if there were complications they would be monitoring to ensure baby and mom are safe.
A woman can speak up in advance and let medical staff know that she is not comfortable with many cervical checks and find out their policy in a low-risk delivery situation. For a high-risk delivery, she may not have a choice.
7 Changing Birth Positions
Here once again, when it comes to changing birth positions while in labor and delivering, it depends on the hospital's policy. Some are comfortable with a woman using many different positions and moving around, while others prefer she stays in bed for safety reasons, even in a low-risk delivery situation. There are some hospitals, however, that allow a laboring woman to try different birthing positions to help control her pain and push the baby out without the need for any interventions.
This is something she can discuss with her doctor at the beginning of her pregnancy and decide where it is best and safest for her to birth. The doctor will need to consider her medical history and the risks to herself and her baby. It is important that she be as well informed about her options as possible so there are no misunderstandings.
6 Taking A Shower
Can you imagine sweating through hours of labor and contractions and not being able to shower? The biggest issue doctors have with allowing a woman to shower during labor is that they are worried the baby will come out in the shower before medical personnel can get in there to help. Yes, really. This is true! There are usually restrictions placed on a woman showering after her water has broken and the baby is on its way.
Some doctors even put restrictions on showering after the baby is born as they want to be sure that the woman is well enough to be on her own in the shower and not fall over and get hurt. They usually insist that someone stay nearby just outside the stall in case problems occur. Most of the time, she will be perfectly fine.
5 Saying No To A C-Section
Many women are against c-sections and will do anything not to have one. Yes, c-sections are surgeries and complications sometimes do arise. But they are fairly common and risks are lower if they have been performed by experienced doctors. Still, recovery time is much longer than with standard childbirth. She needs to allow six weeks to recover with no heavy lifting and limited mobility for doing things with her child.
She will need to ask for assistance from those around her. We can’t blame women then for resisting c-sections. Yet, if a doctor orders that she undergo a c-section due to a high risk situation for her and her baby, she will not have a choice. However, if there is not an immediate danger to her or the baby, she may be able to try laboring naturally for a while longer.
4 Yelling And Swearing
Many women get very verbal when delivering their baby. Hey, pushing out a human can be pretty darn painful especially if we consider for a second where it is coming out of! Still, doctors want to try to keep some kind of calm in the hospital or operating room. They will usually ask everyone in the room for silence or to be as quiet as possible, including the laboring woman herself.
Doctors are also thinking of other patients nearby and how this could affect them. Still, this is not an easy task for many women, especially as more studies are pointing towards yelling and screaming helping the woman handle the pain of delivery better. As a result of this news, some hospitals may allow some vocalizing, but yelling and swearing is usually frowned upon.
3 Having Membranes Broken Artificially
Another thing that can cause lots of discomfort to many women is when their membranes are broken artificially. This is often done when a woman has had so many cervical exams that the wear and tear breaks them. Though it can speed up delivery, whether intentional or not, it can also lead to other complications and necessitate surgical interventions - something nobody wants if it can be helped.
These tears may also speed up the frequency and intensity of contractions. A woman needs to be told all of these things in advance so she can prepare herself. It is a good idea if she brings up the issue of membrane ruptures and discusses her feeling about it with her doctor and medical team before her delivery day. This way everyone is on the same page when she is birthing.
2 Using A Wait And See Approach
Often women who are experiencing a long labor will feel pressure to consider an induction to get labor moving along. If her pregnancy was low-risk and she is in good health though, she may want to take a wait and see approach as to where the labor will go. After all, there is no official time clock for labor, for birthing or for women’s bodies. However, she needs to see in advance how comfortable the hospital is in trying something like this. It will depend on her doctor and the hospital's overall policy for low-risk labors. Of course if the labor turns to a high-risk situation, the prime concern will be for her baby's safety and well-being and her own. She will need to accept that interventions will be used at that point.
1 Having An Epidural Too Early
Many women are told about the wonder of epidurals in helping them through the pain of labor. The only thing is that hospitals do not like to give them out until the woman is at least 5 cm dilated, if not more. At that point, she has coped through most of the labor pain with nothing and is almost at the end. The epidural may not even be necessary anymore. It will, of course, be her choice in most cases. But hospital staff will warn her that getting an epidural put in too early will mean that it wears off faster.
She may be told that it will wear off just as she is getting ready to birth; labor will be at its most painful and she will not get relief. There is a fine line when it comes to epidurals and as with many things, timing is everything.
In the end, all that matters is a healthy mom and baby for all concerned. The best way to ensure that happens, is for mom to inform herself every step of the way about her choices.
Sources: American Pregnancy, Mayo Clinic, Parents Magazine, Romper, BellyBelly, Canadian Medical Association Journal, and Fit Pregnancy