When is the first time you realized you had true choice and autonomy in birth?
Are you on the threshold of just now realizing this?
Below are some of the ways in which women are often surprised to know that THEY (in conjunction with their womb babies) have the ultimate say in their birth experience. Note: This doesn’t mean that we get to choose the outcome, but we DO get to influence the overall experience. Similar to how when we go on a hike, we can choose different trails and the general pace but the summit is the same.
Barring evidence-based medical necessity, healthy women who are pregnant and/or in labor:
- Don’t need an IV in labor or even a hep-lock (unless you choose pain medication)
- Don’t have to head to the hospital/birth center immediately after their water breaks (always check for signs of meconium)
- Do not require induction prior to 42 weeks
- Can choose to birth at home, in a hospital, a birth center, on any other wild wonderful place on Earth
- Do not require ultrasounds during pregnancy
- May decline any routine testing/procedures for themselves and their newborn
- Do not need vaginal exams prior to or during labor (generally a hospital does have a policy for requiring a certain cervical dilation before they admit a patient).
- May labor and push in any position she desires (mamas/dads/partners, midwives and ob’s can catch/deliver a baby in just about any position)
- Does not require continual fetal monitoring (some providers do have protocol around VBAC’s but even these can be discussed prenatally with your midwife/OB)
- Can ask if the hospital has wireless fetal monitors (many do and some are even submersible in water)
- Does not have to receive Pitocin to “speed up” a natural labor (there are so many other natural alternatives as well as the good ol’ “Wait and See”)
- May eat and drink in labor (most women only want small bites of food but hydration is very important)
- May wear her own clothing or none at all (don’t have to wear the hospital gown)
- Don’t always follow a standard “pattern” for labor contractions and progress
- Can labor in water even after her water has released (water broken)
- Can be in charge of her ambient environment; ask to have lights dimmed, music on, temperature adjusted, etc.
- Doesn’t have to follow “coached pushing” if birthing unmedicated (can follow her own body cues)
- May feel her baby as he/she is crowning
- Can decline an episiotomy in favor of allowing her body to tear
- Has options even when a C-section is chosen: can request that sleep medications not be added to her IV, may apply essential oils to pulse points to help calm and ease her, can have partner take photos/videos, may ask for immediate and continual skin-to-skin contact, etc).
- May ask for her or her partner to help catch the baby
- May delay cord clamping until the cord has stopped pulsing
- Does not require routine intravenous or intramuscular Pitocin immediately following birth
- May view and/or keep her placenta
- May keep her baby skin-to-skin, with her, at all times and until she is ready for the newborn exam
- Can choose not to have her baby bathed, circumcised, vaccinated, eye-ointment, sent to nursery, etc
Share with me some of the other ways in which women have choices in their beautiful birth experience!