Hospitals have a lot of rules. And delivery rooms have even more rules — because the staff there are responsible not only for their patients but also for the baby. While most of these rules exist for the sake of a woman and her little one, some of them don't make a lot of sense. And quite a few regulations can even disrupt the entire process, causing excessive stress to a woman.
However, we shouldn't feel discouraged and opt for home births or birth centers to avoid these rules. After all, hospitals are always the safest alternative because they'll have everything needed in case of an emergency. We just need to know what their rules are. Thusly armed, we'll be able to either get ready for them or find a way to disobey them.
For example, if we want to choose an alternative birth position, refuse cervical checks, or let our partner catch the baby, we need to discuss it all with the doctor beforehand and clearly state these requests in the birth plan. Then the delivery process will be much smoother and less stressful. Isn't it what every pregnant woman wants when it comes to planning for her labor?
So let's see what we should keep in mind before heading to the hospital to help little bundles out into the world!
Thinking about a woman giving birth, most of us imagine her lying on her back in a hospital bed with her legs spread apart. We consider it to be a traditional, if not the only one possible, position to give birth. But, in fact, nothing can be farther from the truth.
A woman can actually give birth in a variety of different positions. According to What to Expect, she can be standing, squatting, on all fours, kneeling over a chair, lying on her side, or even rocking on a chair! Unlike the more popular back-lying position, all these positions help the woman use the force of gravity to help her push the baby out of her womb.
Then why do women in labor keep on lying on their backs in hospitals? Because it’s more convenient for the doctor – it allows getting a clear view and easy access to you-know-what. But if you feel uncomfortable and want to change your position, don’t hesitate to do it, even if they say you can’t.
In most hospitals, when a woman in labor arrives, the first thing they do is place an IV and fetal monitoring that, as they say, should be on during the entire process. There are certain advantages to it. For example, IV helps hydrate the woman, if she can’t drink water during labor. Or, if an emergency situation arises, meds can be immediately entered through the IV tube. Meanwhile, a fetal monitor checks the baby’s heart rate to ensure that everything’s fine.
Of course, there’s a lot of sense in all this, but there’s also one huge disadvantage. Having all these tubes on her body, a woman can’t move freely, which is likely to impede the delivery process. So feel free to ask the nurse not to place an IV and monitor, but be sure to do it in advance.
One of the many positions for delivering a baby is using a birthing ball. In fact, it makes the delivery process much easier, because it helps a woman sit or stand in various positions and maneuver her body in different ways. Besides, it relieves the pressure on her back and helps ensure the strong flow to the uterus.
Despite all these advantages, some hospitals won’t allow a mom to use a birthing ball. First of all, they don’t want all these cords and wires from IV and fetal monitor to become tangled. Secondly, they still want the woman to be on her bed. And thirdly, they don’t even have a ball to provide the woman with.
Water birth is becoming more popular these days. According to some studies, it has quite a few benefits, such as helping the mom to relax and move more freely, improving circulation to the uterus, and reducing the chance of tearing. However, since the results of these studies aren’t 100% clear, many hospitals still don’t allow women to have a water birth. Even if they do, they will ask the woman to go out of the tub at the second stage of labor, when her cervix is completely dilated.
As the College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists puts it, “a water birth during the first stage of labor may have some benefits but delivering your baby underwater should be considered an experimental procedure with risks.”
VBAC stands for "vaginal birth after C-section". Most hospitals consider it to be a too risky thing and don't allow women to do it. In some way, they are right, because VBAC carries a risk of rupture of the scar left after the previous C-section. It may create serious issues both for the mother and her baby.
As Self mentions, “Once a C-section, always a C-section” is still a standard recommendation for most hospitals. So if you want to do otherwise and want to have a VBAC, you need to talk your chances over in advance and see if your doctor is willing to arrange it for you, or not.
A breech baby means that the baby in the womb is not positioned head down, which is a preferred position for vaginal labor. According to Mama Natural, the woman who has a breech baby will most likely need to have C-section. Doctors resort to this solution in 80% of the cases.
It's quite easy to understand why breech birth is a risky procedure - it carries quite a few challenges with it. But, at the same time, C-section is also not the safest surgery ever. Besides, there have been cases, when a breech baby would turn to the correct position during natural labor and come out just fine. So be sure to discuss this situation with your doctor beforehand.
According to WebMD, on average first-time labor should last 12-18 hours (the second one can be quicker). If it lasts for more than 18 or 20 hours, it's called prolonged labor. In many cases, when it happens and nothing else helps, the woman will require a C-section.
It's easy to understand why doctors want to speed up the delivery process. After all, they are also people and they get tired from standing next to you for hours. They want to have a nap or just go home and have dinner. It's completely understandable.
However, forcing a C-section isn't the best thing to do, if a woman doesn't want it.
On the one hand, the delivery process can be too long, but on the other hand, it can be too fast. At times, the baby starts coming out even before the doctor arrives. What to do in this case? Let nature do its thing? Not if you're in a hospital...
Many hospitals will still want the delivery to actually begin only when the doctor is there to control the process. Therefore, you might need to wait and pray for your doctor to come sooner. It won't usually take long, because the doctor is usually somewhere around, but you should keep this in mind, just in case you have a quicker delivery than expected.
According to a common hospital policy described in Glamour, doctors don't need a mother's permission to give C-sections in case they believe there's "reasonable possibility of significant benefit" for the fetus that "outweigh[s] the possible risks to the woman."
On the one hand, they have a right to do it, because they see the situation from the medical point of view and can assess all the risks. But on the other hand, it's still not good to force a C-section, in case a woman clearly states that she doesn't want it. It may create excessive stress and even lead to health issues and postpartum depression.
Besides, a patient's opinion should always be respected, shouldn't it?
Usually, in hospitals, the umbilical cord is clamped right after the baby comes out of the womb. Somehow, it became a norm and doctors still do it, especially after a C-section, when they want to immediately proceed with sewing up the mom's incision.
However, the newest research proves that we should get back to an older practice — to delayed cord clamping. In fact, if the cord is allowed to pulsate before it's cut, the baby gets more iron and more oxygen through it, which helps it become healthier later in life.
According to Mama Natural, the WHO recommends waiting for at least 1 minute to clamp the cord. So if your doctor doesn't know about it, let them know in advance. Or find the doctor, who knows this fact.
Since a long time ago, there has been an opinion that a woman shouldn’t eat or drink during labor, because it can lead to certain health issues. Most of the hospitals still follow this point of view and don’t allow any food or even water in a delivery room.
Nevertheless, according to the most recent studies described in Very Well Family, restricting food during delivery is not a good idea. In fact, it can cause more stress to a woman, as well as lead to dehydration.
So if your hospital is one of those that share the outdated point of view on this matter, don’t hesitate to share the recent findings with them. But, of course, do it in advance, because it’s unlikely that you can talk about it during contractions.
Most often, a woman needs a midwife (or a doula), when she wants to give birth at home or at a birth center. But sometimes it happens that she has certain complications in the process and needs to be admitted to a hospital. Unfortunately, in most cases it means that this woman will have to continue the delivery process with a hospital doctor because her midwife won't be allowed in.
It's easy to understand why it happens - hospital workers don't want any competition. They want to just do their job. So in case you have a midwife and want to make sure she can be with you during the entire process, talk it over way in advance.
Labor is painful, and everyone knows it. So it's not surprising that many women plan to have an epidural injection. Some of them have very strong and painful contractions from the very beginning and they feel like they can't stand it. However, hospital staff won't allow them to get an injection too early, even when it seems to be too much to handle.
According to Baby Center, an epidural can be given only when the woman is 4 to 5 centimeters dilated. If done before then, it can impede the labor process and slow down the contractions. It's quite a clear rule and most hospitals follow it.
However, sometimes hospital staff can refuse from giving an epidural injection at all. It might happen if the woman has been taking specific meds or if she has certain health issues. Besides, Very Well Family warns that an epidural can be refused if the mom is fully dilated, which means that she's 10 centimeters open.
So in either case, it's likely that the woman will have to handle the delivery process by herself and withstand all the pain that comes her way. Even though it might seem to be too much, it's a natural process and it's actually possible to handle it. It's not going to last forever, after all.
In most hospitals, a woman in labor isn't allowed to get up from her bed and have a walk or at least stretch her back muscles. There are a few reasons to it. First of all, as we've discussed in one of the previous entries, most hospitals will get you hooked up to IV and fetal monitoring right after you arrive. It makes it hard to move around with all these wires attached to your body. Besides, they can get tangled and you certainly don't want it to happen.
If a woman is given an epidural injection, she has another reason to stay in bed. If she gets up, she can feel dizzy, so it's safer to just lie down.
Sure, there are tons of birth photos all over the Internet these days. It seems that every other pregnant woman wants her delivery process to be documented on photo and video to then share it on her social media or at least show it to her family and friends.
However, even though it seems that you can just take a photographer to the delivery room with you, sometimes you can't. The thing is, many hospitals restrict birth photography - they either don't allow it at all or ask not to make any photos during certain parts of the process.
So if you want birth photos, clear this question up beforehand.
During a cervical check, a nurse or a doctor checks how dilated the woman is to learn the labor progress. Even though it seems that it's done for a good cause, some women find these routine checks uncomfortable or even painful. But since hospital staff says it's a necessary procedure, they tend to deal with it.
However, it's not so necessary and you can actually refuse from getting cervical checks. In fact, there are other ways to check your progress. An experienced and attentive doctor can actually understand it even from the way you talk and move! Besides, cervical checks are not even that accurate in assessing the progress and predicting how long the labor will be.
So if you don't want these checks, speak up and refuse from them.
The benefits of taking a shower during labor are undoubted. According to Baby Med, the pressure of warm water spraying on a woman's back relaxes her muscles and eases the pain, which can benefit the labor progression.
Nevertheless, most hospitals won't allow you to have a shower during labor, simply because they don't want you to end up giving birth in there. And let me ask you, if you're in a hospital, would you really want to give birth in a shower? I guess not!
So what's the best thing to do then? Take a shower at home, right after your labor has started and only then head to the hospital.
This rule is quite logical and we should actually be happy that it exists. After all, would you really want to have a bunch of people in a delivery room, who wouldn't only make you feel embarrassed but also distract your doctor from the process?
The number of people who can be present during labor and delivery differs from one hospital to another, but most of them don't allow more than 3 persons in there. Parenting says that in case you need a C-section, only one person is allowed to stay and support you.
So think about it and decide beforehand who you want to be with you on this special day.
If your partner is the one you choose to be present during the delivery process, you should know that not all doctors will allow him to catch your baby, even if he really wants to do it.
The reason for it is simple - hospital staff doesn't want your partner to do something wrong and hurt the baby somehow. After all, they're responsible for you and your little one's health in the process and want everything to be fine.
So if your partner really (like, really) wants to do it, you should discuss it in advance and ask your doctor to teach him to catch the baby properly.