In my years as a professional maternity and newborn photographer, I hear about lots and lots of birth plans - and birth stories. If there’s one thing I can say from an anecdotal standpoint is that studies correlating laboring women’s feelings of security and safety to successful outcomes are absolutely true.
An article posted on the University of Minnesota’s website says it best:
Women in labor are often advised to let go and release control of labor to their bodies' own innate ability. In order to do this, you will need to feel safe with the environment and with your chosen care providers and support people. Because labor is a time when many women feel vulnerable, you should ask for understanding, support, and respect from those around you to help enhance your feelings of safety and strength.
Find Your Ideal Maternity Hospital or Birthing Center
Here are points to evaluate as you search for your ideal maternity hospital or birthing center.
I can’t possibly cover this topic without addressing the basics. When it comes to giving birth - you need to be within reasonable proximity from the delivery site. If that’s a hospital or birthing center - the ideal is to be no more than 15 to 30-minutes away from your home.
And, of course, unless you’re planning to pay out-of-pocket, you’re going to need to find a place that is covered by your insurance. If you have a high-risk pregnancy, try to find a hospital who specializes in high-risk labor and deliveries.
Were you torn between home birth or hospital birth?
While the idea of home births is appealing to many, it’s not the ideal plan for all. If you’ve opted to forgo your dreams of home birth, continue prioritizing the things that compelled you to consider it in the first place. Then search for a hospital or birthing center that honors them.
Are you wary of being restricted to a bed or perpetually attached to a fetal monitor?
Were you planning to avoid pain medications and interventions unless absolutely necessary?
Do you want comprehensive postpartum support, including unfailing support with breastfeeding?
You deserve to have the atmosphere, support and respect you desire during the entirety of your labor and delivery - so hold true to those ideals. Honor your intuition and distinguish between hospitals and centers that deliver lip-service and those who strive to provide the nurturing, mother-led labor you’re looking for.
An atmosphere/staff that is warm, calm and positive
Company cultures are tangible. There is so much you can tell without ever conversing with a single person. As you walk around and interact with the staff, take note of how you feel.
Is the environment attractive to you?
Does the staff seem warm, calm and happy - or are they rushing around in frazzled chaos?
Do the accommodations resonate with you (are there private rooms? Are the rooms shared? Are bathrooms private? Are you okay with a shared room?)
Do they let the babies stay with mothers, or do they need to stay in the nursery (some moms insist on the former, others enjoy the rest/freedom of the latter)
Just feel it out. Even if your very best friend loved her experience, and you were set on loving her recommendation - don’t follow through if it doesn’t resonate with you.
Did they answer your questions patiently and genuinely?
Finally, as a prospective patient, you’re also a prospective client - and you deserve to learn everything you can about their success rates, philosophies, rules and protocols.
Here is a sample list of questions worth asking. Again, your gut will tell you if their answers are genuine…
What are their induction and unscheduled C-Section rate? These rates vary widely. Knowing the factors that cause them to induce labor, or take you into a C-section is important. If you’re truly in a medical emergency, then a C-section is the safest solution. But with C-sections at an all-time high as the result of doctors wanting to control the situation - you are the one who should call the shots on this one.
Will they respect your birth plan? Bring a copy of your birth plan and review it. Again, true emergencies change things, but you want to feel confident that your wishes are theirs to grant. If your plan conflicts with hospital rules/regulations - now’s the time to find out so you can work with or around that.
Can I eat/drink while I’m in labor? Hospitals are coming around on this one, but for a long time, women have not been able to eat/drink much at all during labor in medical settings, even though most need hydration and nourishment throughout the long labor stretch.
These are some good starters. For a more comprehensive list, read, Questions to Ask During a Maternity Hospital Tour.
I want every woman to have the labor and delivery she envisions for herself. While this may not always be possible, do your best to find a hospital or maternity center where you feel safe, secure and nurtured.
Once your baby is born, I look forward to providing an equally safe, secure and nurturing environment to create magical images of his/her precious self. Contact me here at Lemonshoots to book your newborn session.