Paging Northeast Doulas: How to Bring Home to the Delivery Room
With the recent news about the dangers of homebirth, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to bring home to the delivery room. Who better to advise on how to make a hospital birth more like a home birth than a doula who’s witnessed oodles of both types of births? Here’s what the Northeast Doulas have to say about making your hospital birth as pleasant as possible.
The Expertise Of A Hospital; The comfort Of Home
Most women in the United States give birth in a hospital, a small percent give birth at home and a LARGE percent want the comfort of home but the safety of a hospital!
Why do women want the comfort of home at the birth with them, you ask?
Because hospitals are for sick people.
Because hospitals mean something is wrong with us.
Because hospitals make us think emergency.
We don’t often go to the hospital preventatively. OK… with the exception of labor and birth, I can’t think of a single reason we would check ourselves into a hospital IN CASE something goes wrong.
Home, on the other hand, is comfortable.
Home feels safe.
Home is familiar.
So how can we connect the two? How can we bring our home, to the hospital with us?
Truthfully, I don’t believe you can.
I mean, you can bring battery-operated candles, your own pillows, a favorite blanket (if you don’t care if blood, amniotic fluid or poop get on it), music, a favorite picture, etc. but it will still be your things from home IN a hospital.
So let’s get back to the labor/birth for a minute…
OXYTOCIN is the hormone that your body releases which causes your uterus to contract. Uterine contractions, as they become long, strong and close together, cause your cervix to soften and dilate.
ADRENALIN is a hormone that is counter-productive to oxytocin. When we become afraid or anxious, our bodies release adrenalin (the fight or flight hormone) which shuts down our oxytocin production.
Think about it…
An animal is laboring in the forest. It is dark and quiet and she feels safe. She hears a predator and senses its danger. Her body releases adrenalin and her labor quickly shuts down. Her adrenalin release is protecting her and her unborn baby. She flees. Once she feels safe again, her body gradually begins to produce oxytocin again, her uterus begins contracting again and her cervix continues to dilate so that she can birth her baby.
The same happens to us (after all, we’re just mammals ourselves…)
Many women find that when they get to the hospital, their contractions that were 5 minutes apart, lasting a minute, for over an hour, stop or slow down.
That’s that adrenalin, I was talking about.
Hospitals can be scary and can make us feel anxious…
I think more important than bringing “home” to the hospital is bringing the feelings of home to the hospital. Comfort, safety and familiarity. These 3 things come in the form of SUPPORT.
There is so much unknown at the hospital!
Where do we go in?
Do we have too much stuff in the hospital bag?
Am I really in labor?
Which doctor will be on call?
Who will my labor nurse be?
How difficult are things going to get when I’m fully in labor?
Is my baby going to be ok?
Am I going to be ok?
What’s the solution? Support.
Your first support person should be a loved one. Having a loved one with you is essential, whether it’s your husband, boyfriend, partner, sister, best friend etc. They bring familiarity. They don’t know the answers to your questions any better than you do, BUT they are familiar to you and that will bring you some of the comfort of home.
Your 2nd support person should be your Doula.
She will know how to comfort you. She will know the answers to your questions or will be able to find them. She will know when the best time to introduce an epidural is OR how to help you avoid one.
She will help you feel safe. You will trust her when she tells you that things are going perfectly well (even when it doesn’t feel like that to you or look like that to your partner).
She will bring familiarity. You will have met with her during pregnancy to discuss your labor, birth and postpartum desires and she will gently remind you of your wishes as things unfold. You and your partner will feel a connection to her (if you have chosen the right Doula) and she will feel familiar to you. She will meet you at your house when you are in labor, she will labor with you at home and when it is the right time to go to the hospital, she will help you make that awkward transition. She will keep you feeling safe and comfortable in hopes of avoiding fear or anxiety that could lead to the release of adrenalin. She has walked where you are walking and her knowledge and experience will bring you an abundance of comfort.
Above all else, remember this… This is the birth of your child!
Be comfortable AND safe! Make deliberate choices about who your provider will be, where you will give birth and who your Doula will be.
Authored by: The Rock n’ Roll Doula