in a hospital, naturally

Writing posts like this make my hands sweat. I have an opinion. I am going to voice it. I might not word it soft enough to not offend someone. I might not have all of the information. I might come from an entirely different perspective than you.

I am going to voice it anyway.


Sometimes I feel like there are these birth cliques. It’s strange, I know, but hear me out.

There are the “I had an epidural and I loved it!” mamas who see absolutely nothing wrong with using the God-given pain medications to do exactly that: medicate the pain. They had a hospital birth with all the bells and whistles and wouldn’t change a thing about it. Mantra: modern medicine is awesome.

And then there are the natural birth ladies who support letting birth take it’s natural course. They will tell you that hospitals and their interventions are not what they wanted for their baby’s birth, and that birthing at home is perfectly safe for an uncomplicated pregnancy. Mantra: Hospital births and the medical interventions that come with them are often unnecessary.

But OBaby’s birth doesn’t fit in either camp.

I had a natural hospital birth attended by a midwife in a birth tub and I would do it again in a second!

I see hospitals painted in a criminal light so often by the natural birth advocates. It makes me sad to see people imply that “natural” birth is diametrically opposed to hospital birth and must be at home. I think a lot of people, my husband included, are not comfortable with the idea of being at home (especially for their first) but they still want a beautiful, natural birth. To hear that hospitals are evil and the only way to have a natural birth is at home stops these people from pursuing their options.

Don’t get me wrong, if my husband were comfortable with a home birth (and maybe he will be someday), I would pray about it and probably have one. I think it sounds amazing. But I also think assuming that a mother can’t be responsible for her own care and have a natural birth unless they are at home is damaging to some women who, like me, find themselves unable to have a home birth but still desperately want a natural birth experience.

I think to have a natural birth in a hospital requires you to view yourself as the one who is ultimately responsibility for your care, not the doctors or hospital staff.

Here are the things we did to prepare for the (hospital) birth we wanted that I highly recommend:

1. Educate Yourself – Take a class. Read books. Watch videos. Dive head-first into information that supports the kind of birth you envision (even if it includes an epidural!). Having a good idea of what to expect prevented a lot of stress during our first birth.

2. Have a Plan – I’ve heard women say that if they’d handed their doctor a birth plan s/he would have looked at them and laughed. If that’s the case, you should get a different doctor. It is your birth, the doctor is only “attending” it. This website is a wonderful resource for creating a birth plan.

3. Bring Strong Advocates – Have a birth team. Mine was DanO and my doula. The three of us met to go over our birth plan. We made contingency plans (For example our 3x rule. If I asked for drugs once we would try a different pain management technique, if I asked a second time we would try something else, but if I still wanted it after two attempts then I would have it.)

4. Surround Yourself - with those who have similar perspectives of birth. If someone envisions an epidural during their birth, they don’t deserve to be told constantly throughout their pregnancy that “natural is better”. Similarly, if you are preparing for a drug-free birth, it is completely within your right to (kindly) tell naysayers to shut it.

5. Research Area Hospitals – for c-section rates and natural-birth-friendly perspectives. This is huge. The hospital where we delivered has the second lowest c-section rate in our state. They have a rooming-in policy where babies stay with the parents rather than being carted off to a nursery. They have water birth suites which we utilized. Midwives typically round on laboring mothers and OBs are only called in the case of complications. All hospitals are not created equal. Find one that fits you.

By the grace of God, all of those parts fit together to give me my ideal birth – in a hospital!

49 Responses to “in a hospital, naturally”

  1. Mrs. Cline

    Thank you for sharing your experience and thoughts. I’m in this position right now, where Aaron and I are somewhat different on what we want, but I win because the baby comes out MY who-haa. He thinks hospitals are the be all, end all, and why would I want a doula and women have babies everyday with the doctor there to catch as you lie on your back with wires and IV’s. He’s not close-minded, just uneducated. Or, I guess I could say, his only education on birth comes from the scary videos they show you in 6th grade so you won’t ever want to have s.e.x.

    I will be going to a hospital, and I have a wonderful relationship with my OB. I will have a doula there during labor to assist, and by all means, if a c-section is needed to make sure my baby is born well, then cut away. I don’t WANT one, but I also trust my doctor and know that he knows my desires and would only perform one if my health or my daughter’s health were at risk.

    But, ehhh. I agree with you so much that there seem to be extremes in people’s opinions. I just keep reminding myself that every woman, every pregnancy, every labor and delivery, every baby will be different. There isn’t one particular thing that will work for *everyone*, so I will find what works for me.

    This “having a baby” stuff is not for, uh, babies. :)

  2. Adventures In Babywearing

    I had an amazing all natural birth in the hospital with Gray. Birth plan was followed, my every wish was granted. It was so pleasant! I am so happy about it still to this day (aside from not being able to birth the placenta on my own.) That’s one of the reasons I chose to have a home birth with my fourth. And I am so glad I did. It was so right for me.


  3. Adventures In Babywearing

    (And by not being able to birth the placenta on my own, I meant that they didn’t want to wait for it and stabbed me with pitocin in my leg without my consent (I had refused IV) and I wish they would have let it happen naturally.)


  4. Philip

    I couldn’t agree more!! We have been in the hospital for all three of ours. Two of them had minor complications that would have sent us to the hospital had we been at home. For all three we had done our research and had an in depth birth plan printed out. The doctors and nursing staff were incredibly helpful in making sure our experience was constant with our plan. They were great, and our experiences were wonderful!!

    For those of you reading this that are pregnant or have not yet had children, take these five points to heart!! They make a HUGE difference in how smooth and enjoyable this rather painful experience goes. Very well put Allison!!

  5. Shannon

    great post :) We’re blessed to have a birthing center in our area – which is like a *really* low-intervention center with huge tubs and all the resources you might want to have a natural birth. BUT it’s actually IN a hospital, so if there were ever an emergency, you’d just be wheeled up to the 4th floor. I totally agree with your post – you can definitely have a natural childbirth.. it just takes a lot of education, determination, and having a VOICE! :) I’m so excited about labor.. I’m weird, I know ;]

  6. Shannon

    um, oops. that one sentence should say “you can definitely have a natural childbirth IN A HOSPITAL” .. I left out “in a hospital” hehe :) oops!

  7. Shannon

    PS. Your title and first sentence made me get all nervous thinking you were in a hospital. Haha! Glad you’re healthy and are doing well ;] and okay, this makes my 3rd comment on one post. I’m out of control. Ahh!

  8. abby

    That’s a great post. Planning for this baby, my husband and I have never once even housed the idea of having the baby at home. I know it’s for some people, but definately not for me. My cousin has given birth 10 times (I think – I’ve lost track) at home so it’s worked for her, except she did have complications with her most recent one and thankfully the baby was ok. Had my mom given birth to me at home, I would have never lived. Growing up knowing that I was literally run to another room for oxygen is enough reason for me to go to a hospital because you just never know if there will be complications even if you have had a perfect pregnancy! I totally agree with you that you should go to a Doctor who respects your wishes whether that means no pain meds or “bring em on!” That will make a huge difference! Thankfully I absolutely adore my Doctor and am so thankful for her! OK, this is on a side note, but seriously after being in with my friend when she had a baby and seeing how messy things are afterwards and how much the nurses had to clean up (for a natural birth of course) I can’t fathom cleaning that up in my own house or asking a family member to! Yuck!!

  9. Tiffany

    I desperately wanted to do a VBAC with my second, after having an emergency c-section with my first (fetal distress and such) but with the accident and the secondary surgeries and the hospital stays it just wasn’t do-able in my life at that time. I made the decision I needed to make for my own insanity and for my first child, but I still feel a twinge of pain when I think about the natural VBAC I really wanted to have the entire pregnancy. I just tell myself that God had other plans I guess, because I prayed and prayed about the decision to do another c-section before we called the doctor. Still, it almost (ALMOST) makes me want to have a third, just to get the experience I so longed for. ALMOST.

  10. Ailen

    I agree with you to an extent. I too had a natural birth in a hospital and it was a good experience. However, they told me I had to get an IV and it took the nurses three different tries on both my arms to find a vein. I feel that was completely unnecessary. I think that, now that I know what to expect from childbirth, I’d like to have our second baby at home. I mentioned it to my husband the other day and I think he needs a little more convincing. It’s a good thing we don’t plan to get pregnant again for a couple of years — that should give me plenty of time to persuade/guilt-trip him into doing it.

  11. Savannah

    I agree with Shannon, I was nervous that you or OBaby were in the hospital!

    I loved this post, and I couldn’t agree more! I’m in the middle of those two cliques as well and couldn’t be happier. I got everything I wanted with my natural birth in a regular old hospital. I mean, I was in the “Birth Center” but there were no midwives, or fancy suites, or water births. Just your run of the mill birth center, and I still got to go au natural! I even got to leave the hospital about 9 hours after giving birth, on the very same day. Stand up for yourself, plan ahead, and you’ll be fine!

  12. Liz

    I agree, but I also think there needs to be room in a woman’s head for the what ifs of intervention. Otherwise you’ll end up giving birth at 33 wks with pre-eclampsia feeling guilty about not doing it the “right” and natural way but grateful for modern medicine because otherwise you and the baby would have died…but that just might be me :)

  13. Angie

    Thank you for saying this out loud! I had very similar birth experiences with my kids, and wouldn’t change anything for the world.

    But I think the most important part of your post is encouraging women to GET EDUCATED about what options are out there for them, and to know some of the common benefits and challenges with different birth paths they might take. So thank you for this post. I think it’s really important.

  14. annemarie

    I was planning to do the natural-in-a-hospital birth, but after almost two days of induction, Sam insisted I take the epidural because I was way too tired to push a baby out (especially an 11-pound-9-ounce baby). Luckily I wasn’t DEAD SET on a natural delivery, and luckily I had fabulous nurses, doctors, and doulas to help me, and I still think my delivery was as good as it could have been. Staying open minded is the most important thing.

  15. kim

    AMEN!!! This is exactly where I was, after a medicated first birth. I had two natural, hospital births. I had to educate myself wll and do a bit of fighting for them (including switching docs) but I did the right thing for us. Congrats to you! And wasn’t it so empowering?

  16. Mary @ Parenthood

    I really wanted a home birth. I had a planned c-section instead. Talking about “birth cliques” – discussions about labour and hospital births etc rarely include me. It’s as if the other mothers feel that I either cheated or else didn’t try hard enough to have a “proper” birth.

    In my case there is no question that the c-section was necessary and that not being allowed to try to “turn” the baby etc saved Elizabeth’s life (umbilical cord tightly wrapped around her neck multiple times). It ended up being an extremely positive experience too, despite having to be in the hospital with a kitchen who I swear was actively trying to kill me (http://parenthood.phibian.com/?ID=35).

    I don’t know what I would do for a second pregnancy. Hoping I get a chance to make that decision someday.

  17. Hillary

    Thanks so much for this post! I don’t have kids yet, but (since I’m a little baby crazy these days) I’ve thought a lot about childbirth and I know I want to go the natural route. I’m a little (acually a lot!) hesitant about a home birth though- I would just really prefer to be in a hospital. It’s nice to hear that a similar birth plan worked out well for you!

  18. Sara Joy

    I think a key factor being left out here are that there were options available to you that aren’t necessarily available to everyone. I live in one of the largest metropolitan areas in the Midwest, plenty of hospitals, and their combined average c-section rate is over 45%. There are only two that offer tubs, and neither will “allow” you to birth in them, only labor.
    I did not choose to birth at home because hospitals are evil, and even as a home birth supporter I hope I never portray them that way. The simple truth is that for women in this area, hospitals are very, very heavy on interventions no matter your birth plan, doula, midwife or education. Because I am pregnant with twins I am being forced to birth in an OR, I have absolutely no say in the matter – at any area hospital, with any area provider. I have hired a pit bull of a doula because by and large the OB/GYN’s and nurses in this area are so comfortable with interventions they are known to perform them no matter a patient’s wishes. Your experience simply could not be replicated here. I did the research, and so have countless other women. I refuse to believe this is true of my area exclusively.
    I am incredibly happy that you had such a wonderful experience, but it really must be kept in mind that you had choices not available to many, many women. They may be limited by geography, insurance, availability of midwives, availability of NICU, and a host of other factors. This is merely to point out that birth is an individual choice, as well as experience. It is very rare that one person’s experience will transfer to another.
    Your guidelines are helpful, to be sure, but the fact that they “worked” for you is not to say that they would work in all situations or for all people and I think that needs to be said. It isn’t that you are wrong, you are entirely right – in your case.
    It also bears statement that the myths about home birth are as destructive as those about hospital birth. Home birth midwives are trained in infant resuscitation, bring oxygen and other emergency equipment, monitor fetal heart tones and clean everything after a birth. There is a big difference between unassisted child birth, and midwife attended home birth.
    I’m not disagreeing with you Allison; I just wanted to add another element to the picture that might not be obvious to someone who doesn’t live with these realities.

    • AllisonO

      You are so right. In the same way that hospitals are portrayed criminally by some, home births are portrayed as unsafe and risky by others. I’m very glad you amended this information here because it ought to be shared.
      Also, I was careful to word that ‘I highly recommend’ the steps we took, not ‘here’s how to do it’. Leaving room for variables is assumed when talking about births or else this would turn into a very long post filled with qualifying statements.

    • AllisonO

      I want to add also that you took the time to look into natural-birth-friendly hospitals in your area, which means you already believed it possible to have a natural birth in that setting. I mean to encourage women who might otherwise think it’s always an either-or situation to look for those options. Unfortunately (and I think it is incredibly unfortunate) they aren’t available to you.

  19. Erin

    While I do understand and agree with some of your points, I think it’s also fair to point out that not all of these options are available for every woman. Those of us who do live by a birth-friendly hospital are so very blessed, but there are definitely women who don’t have the choice. In some instances, a birth-friendly hospital might not exist in close proximity. In other instances, women might be unable to choose where to birth due to insurance reasons. And still, in other cases, women might have a doctor who purports to be birth friendly but then does a 180 when it comes down to it.
    Reading the comments have definitely been interesting. For all your clarity on hospitals not being evil (and I agree, they are not!), it makes me a little sad to see some myths about home births being put forth in the comments. I know this is not at all a reflection of you, but I wish that the two camps could just respect each other!

  20. Mrs Soup

    I am always so sad when women get so adamant about the right way to birth. Each and every situation is different. The most important part is to make sure YOU are comfortable with your decisions and be prepared for any option. I gave birth in a hospital med-free. No doula. But I did my research. Our local hospital was fantastic. The birth center was structured to allow for the labor and delivery and recovery all to take place in the same room. The surgery was right across the hall if needed. They were very respectful and ready for all decisions. Even the birth class offered through the hospital was taught by a doula and covered all options.

    It’s so important to know what you want but also to be prepared for issues to occur. My birth progressed so quickly that my daughter’s heartbeat started slowing as she was crowning. A quick episiotomy helped get her out, to discover that the cord was wrapped twice around her neck and tight. Without that intervention, she may have died. It’s just very vital to know what the options and situations that could occur are and to be prepared. A birth plan is all great and good, but you have to be ready for ALL occurrences.

  21. Kaycee

    I really like this post. To me, as long as you have a healthy baby and Mama at the end of the process there is no wrong way. Everyone picks the way that works the best for them, and good for them! It’s another aspect where I wish Mom’s could just be supportive of each other instead of so judgemental.

  22. Vanessa

    Great post. I think the ultimate conclusion is that you need to be educated, know yourself and try and set yourself up for the best birthing situation possible.
    To be honest, I don’t actually know many people who have home births. Most of the women who had drug-free or natural births (whichever phrase you prefer) I know have had them in hospitals. All that being said, perhaps you just know a lot of granola hippies (I guess I’m in that category having had 2 home births :p). :)
    But even as I’ve had 2 amazing home births I would NEVER push that on anyone and it’s definitely not for everyone. Not because it’s a better than any other way – it was just best for ME. If I were pregnant with twins I wouldn’t. If I had complications I wouldn’t. If I were high risk at all I wouldn’t.
    Also as someone else pointed out, not all hospitals allow midwives to deliver there. And sometimes it’s really hard to find a doctor who supports your birth preference. It is important to make the effort to try and find one, though.
    Good thoughts, though!

  23. Melissa

    I couldnt agree with you more! I read and educated myself to the point of insanity when it came to birth options/plans/ideas and I am so glad that I did.. We have had two natural hospital births and both times I was told over and over by nurses and doctors that for a young/first mom I was very educated and knew what I wanted! Its your body and your life and God did create us women to give birth and make it through! its a big mindset thing if you ask me. and I think most women would be surprized when they voice their opinions, that most doctors really will help and accomidate you! It is almost a rare thing for women to have a plan or think that they have control over thier birth but they do! For me it was the best of both worlds. I could lay in the tub and have a natural birth if everything went fine but It was importent to my husband and me that i case of a problem we were right where we needed to be. Great post!

  24. Elizabeth

    I had hoped for an unmedicated birth my entire pregnancy. then, when i woke up in the worst pain of my life on august 8, i knew i needed the epidural. my labor was so quick. my MIL is a dr. and she thinks that had something to do with it. i started having contractions around 4:30 a.m. and had J at 11:09 a.m. i got the epidural around 7:45 a.m. i would not have done it any differently! i still felt the entire pushing experience. but if i was not at a hospital i might not have been able to get him out. she had to make an episiotomy b/c his head was getting stuck. my husband told me that towards the end, i was pushing and he wasn’t budging. i am definitely not one to take any risks. i was cautious my entire pregnancy and was not about to stop once the birth came. i am a “worst case scenario” person. i loved my birth experience! :) and my hospital was super awesome too… i regret that i won’t be able to have our future kids there!

  25. Michelle

    Great post! I’m all about natural hospital births, personally the thought of a natural home birth scares the *sugar* out of me, unexpected things can happen even with a healthy pregnancy…I’m living proof of that! I was bleeding way too much immediately after birth, passing large clots and very close to being admitted for postpartum hemorrhaging. I don’t want to even begin to image what could have happened had I not been under the careful watch of a doctor or midwife. Things happen that you don’t plan for, I would never forgive myself if something horrible would go wrong during child birth and an ER was miles away.

  26. Stacia

    I’m about to give birth for the third time. Neither of my first two births have gone the way I envisioned them, but they both went the way they needed to, for my health and each of my baby’s. I think you’ve hit the most important point: education. Do your research; know what you want; plan, hope, and fight for that; but accept that chance and risk are always present, no matter where or how you give birth.

  27. keli

    I feel like I’ll be able to really fully answer this post in about 5 months, because while my first child was born in a hospital with an epidural, this one will be born naturally in a birthing center. We were going to do opt for homebirth, but the birthing center is literally 10 minutes away, and hubby had a hard time with the homebirth, so I chose the birthing center. So far, I really love it there and have really loved the care given to me by their midwife.

    Here, hospital births are very medical – fetal monitors at all times, no getting out of the bed, no bathtubs or birthing balls, etc. So the option to have a wonderful birth like yours is simply not available here.

    I’ll be completely honest, having had a hospital birth already, I was nervous about not having “doctor/obgyn” care readily available, but I am working through that and am really ready to do this thing. ;)

  28. Jen, the recovering procrastinator

    Amen sister!

    I had a natural hospital birth with no. 3. I tried with the first two but after so many hours, I just couldn’t take it any more. All three were in different hospitals and all very different experiences.

    I agree 100% with your advice, regardless of what type of birth a mom envisions.

  29. keli

    Um, to answer your question (hee!), it is NOT impossible to have a natural hospital birth here, but I wouldn’t. I simply would not be able to birth naturally while laying in a bed w/o the ability to move around, sit on a birthing ball, get in a tub, etc.

  30. alissa

    these are my thoughts exactly. i dont have time right now to get into a lengthy response but you said it all very nicely. there are options, even more options if you stand up for what you want!
    and to the commentor above me, keli, thats a shame that your hospital wont let you get up and walk around..most do.

  31. Carrie

    Well said Allison! We had a wonderful natural birth experience at the same hospital as you did and loved it! The midwife was wonderful and so was my husband and dear friend (doula). I had intended on having a water birth, but when I got to that point I was too uncomfortable to even think about climbing into a tub! So I birthed Ruth on “land” :)

  32. Moriah

    I applaud you for being able to go all natural! I wanted to try, but after the fourth vomit fest and pitocin-forced contractions that were making me continuously pass out, I had to opt for the epidural. And I’m really glad that I did in my case. But, SOMEDAY, I would LOVE to go all natural! I have so much respect for strong women like you! :)

  33. Natalie @ Naddy's Blog

    I think that you make some really good points. It isn’t fair to lump all hospitals together.

    However, I am friends with a doula who attended a birth at one of our local hospitals where the OB insisted that the laboring woman stay in bed flat on her back, and told her it was safer. Um, what?! Thankfully, she was able to successfully birth that way, but if that had caused her to need an epidural, which had stalled labor, which caused the doctor to insist on a c-section because of the “24 hour policy” that many hospitals around here have… she would have had totally unnecessary major abdominal surgery having lasting repercussions on her fertility and the safety of future births. Like my cousin, who just had a c-section recently- they broke her water and then labor didn’t progress.

    Obviously all hospitals aren’t like that, and I’m very glad for you that you had good hospital options, and a good birth, but it is very, very hard to have a natural birth in many hospitals.

    (Just for the record, I’ve had two homebirths with a trained, professional, experienced midwife, who can resuscitate a baby (I know because I watched her quickly and skillfully resuscitate my first), deal with a postpartum hemorrhage (she dealt with mine!), and is a dedicated Christian mother of 11.)

  34. Brandy

    Wonderful post!!

    In the end, really … each woman/couple must do what they’re most comfortable with!

    When we were pregnant with our first, we never heard about home births and NO ONE we knew went unmedicated. I was put on petocin … had something in my IV … and decided on having an epidural. I was slightly disappointed, though, cuz I found out I was at 8cm when I got the epidural. I was almost there! Oh well … she came out healthy and that’s all that truly matters!! I HATED our hospital experience though … the staff was SO RUDE and treated us like we were idiots. They pushed formula-feeding in a HUGE way too (kept some in the room, sent you home with some, and offered to give you some to use while you were there too!).

    When we found out we were pregnant with our second, we planned a midwife-assisted homebirth. BUT. Things happened when I was 5mo along … things we couldn’t avoid … and we had to move in with my in-laws. In VERMONT (we were in Tennessee). And mother-in-law was absolutely adamantly against homebirths, so I had to honor her wishes. However, I was able to stay home as long as possible. I almost had my homebirth afterall LOL … she was born, completely drug-free … literally 10min after we walked into the hospital. I actually liked the hospital experience this time. The staff was VERY nice … very friendly … VERY MUCH pro-breastfeeding (not a drop of formula found … you actually had to ask for it, if you wanted some).

    With our next, we’re hoping to have a midwife-assisted homebirth …. but, truly, it’s all in HIS hands and we’ll just have to see how it goes … whenever He blesses us with another, that is lol

  35. Eliza

    I soooo agree with you! I had a natural drug-free birth in a hospital! I loved it! It was a wonderful experience! I, like you, wanted a natural birth but didn’t feel comfortable with having a home birth.

    The thing that bothered me the most was how almost everyone I mentioned my birth plan to scoffed at me “we’ll see”, and “good luck with that”……as in I was a foolish girl who had no idea what I was in for. Well, I did it!

    I try to be as encouraging as possible to my pregnant friends. A natural birth was right for me, but I know it isn’t for everyone. I will kindly answer questions about my views, but I would never judge anyone or make them feel bad about their intended birth plan.

    Congrats on your natural birth!

  36. Megan

    I think it is possible for some people IF they have access to a good hospital with midwives on staff. Where I live, I do not have access to a hospital like the one you describe. There is one hospital (out of the 4 in my area) that will allow midwives from the birth center to attend their patients’ births as long as the pregnancy is at least 36 weeks along (and as long as there is no need for a c-section, obviously). But the midwives rarely go there and natural births are not really supported at any of the hospitals here.

    For me, the birth center was the only option (as long as there were no complications with my pregnancy. If I had needed a c-section, of course I would have gotten one or done anything I needed to for the safety of my baby. Luckily, everything was just fine.). I am not comfortable with having a home birth. That is a risk that I am just not willing to take. At the same time, hospitals are not for me. So we decided to use the birth center without really giving it much thought. It just made sense for us. I know that it doesn’t make sense for everyone and like you, I don’t judge other mothers for their birth choices and I wish we could all just get along and do what is the best for us and our babies!

  37. Kelly @ Love Well


    This is really wise, Allison. We are so blessed in America to have access to the options that we do. Choose what you want! Know that birth, by nature, can bring the unexpected. Then consider all births that end with a healthy baby and a healthy mom a huge success.

    I don’t know why we women tend to beat each other up over something like this. Isn’t there room for everyone’s experience? To me, this isn’t right or wrong — more like, pick your flavor.

  38. erin from swonderland

    I am so glad you had such a good experience! That is awesome and I wish all hospitals were like yours. Maybe someday, right? I’ve had two hospital births. The first was in an old-school insanely rigid hospital with the maximum dosage of Pitocin and an epidural and no getting out of bed even to use the bathroom, etc. The second was drug-free at a different hospital that was supposed to be more laid back, but it was still overly managed and messed up by those attending in many frustrating ways and because I had both a posterior baby with an asynclitic head AND no epidural, they just didn’t know what to do to help me. No positioning suggestions or anything, just “if you had an epidural I would have had this baby out an hour ago” comments. I am having this baby at home.

  39. tracey

    All 3 of my births were slightly different but each was an intended “natural birth” in a hospital. For me, the hospital is nice to have there for the safety of “just in case.” But the best part of a hospital birth? THEY BRING YOU FOOD. You don’t have to depend upon your husband to make food downstairs and lug it up to you. You don’t feel the weight of the messy home calling to you just hours after birthing a human being! People pamper you and come to visit you!! And did I mention the FOOD that is BROUGHT to you?!? On a TRAY. As much as you want, people.

    Thinking about having another baby just so I can have THAT experience again….

    • The Mom Venture Blog

      Ahhh, I totally agree! I had all 3 of mine in the hospital, naturally (I don’t really count the fentinol(sp?) I had with two of them because it didn’t do anything anyway, and with our 3rd child it wouldn’t even have had time to kick in by the time he was delivered!).

      I LOVE the stay in the hospital. There’s no way I’d want to give birth at home and then feel the stress and pressure of home life right after! Besides, I Love the hospital in our city that I gave birth in with our last two children, and the hospital that I had our first child in was wonderfull too. The food was great, and the nurses were absolutely wonderfull! I always got to stay 2 days because of having Group B Strep with my first two, and with the 3rd baby my doctor just told me I could stay 2 days if I wanted to also even though I didn’t have Group B Strep that time. It was like a little vacation :) After coming home with our 3rd baby, everyone was bouncing off the walls that night and I just about broke down and cried! All I wanted was to go back to the hospital! LOL

      I agree though, this should not be a contest. However the baby comes, as long as mom and baby are safe and healthy and happy, it really doesn’t matter! I totally understood after being induced with our second child because my water didn’t break completely how someone would want an epidural. I was in sooooo much pain, but thankfully it didn’t last long. If it had lasted for an hour or more, I don’t think I could have handled it!

  40. Jo @ Parenting Poppy

    I agree that there are birth cliques and it’s annoying. I try to remember that what is the right decision for one woman may not be the right one for another. I am one of the homebirth-types (first daughter born at home last October) and there are a million reasons I chose that route, safety and lack of interventions being at the top. But while that was the absolute right decision for ME, I also fully grasp that it’s a decision MANY are not comfortable with for themselves.

    That being said, I wish more women were able to get your experience in a hospital. It IS possible in some places, but next to impossible in others. I have several friends who had positive, affirming “natural” experiences in hospitals and that thrills me. Women should not have to stay home in order to avoid over/mismanagement of the birth process. It shouldn’t have to be an all or nothing decision. But, sadly, in many places it is. I live in NYC and while we have a bazillion hospitals here, it is STILL next to impossible for a woman to go into a hospital to give birth without major or routine intervention. Our local c/s rate is nearly 10 points above the national average (~40%) and the one hospital that supported natural, physiologic birth closed last Friday.

    I took a Bradley class during my pregnancy and it was frustrating for my husband and I because we were 1 of just 2 homebirth couples in the class; everyone else was planning a hospital birth. But that wasn’t the frustrating part. What was frustrating was that so much of the class focused on how to avoid interventions in a hospital. The teacher did the best she could to answer everyone’s question, but the issue essentially boiled down to, “I want the safety of a hospital in case of an emergency, but I want to fight against every other policy they have in place so that I can birth the way *I* want to. How do I do that?” The teacher gave some pointers, and I hoped they help, but I walked out heartbroken over the state of maternity care in this city.

    If a woman wants to be able to birth as nature intended, she has to spend her labor fighting and arguing and denying — rather than focusing on the task at hand. And that’s just sad. Hopefully we can fix it in time. I really hope so.

  41. Michelle A

    Hello Allison,

    This debate is so interesting to read.

    I live in the UK and even though we have national healthcare (NHS) that supports midwives attending all low risk births in hospitals, birth centers and at home; I really only ever thought that if and when the day came that I was pregnant and preparing to give birth, I would chose the *nicest* hospital as opposed to the nearest and then provide a well researched birth plan stating all of my wishes in the event of any emergencies that might arise and when the time came go have the baby, job done! lol

    However, after hearing several birth stories from both family, friends, bloggers and vloogers, and getting little broody after meeting their adorable babies, I went a little crazy and started to research about pregnancy and birth online. After listening to a variety of very educational and informative podcasts, radio shows and seeing The Business of Being Born and Pregnant in America, I realised that I was completely changing my thoughts and opinions of how I wanted any future pregnancies and births to go. Originally, as I am not particularly religious, ‘green’ or a hippy, I remember saying I’d like to be knocked out and woken when it was all over so that I’d feel nothing (perfect) but now I have decided for so many health and safely reasons that not only would I like a home water birth but one with little assistance from a midwife. I have learnt how much of a huge event that this will be in my life and how much planing and preparation it will involve starting right now with my pre-conception health and the quality of my relationships with my partner (almost hubby lol) and family.

    I completely agree Jo’s comments above, one of my main deciding factors for a home birth was that I realised how much I would be fighting the hospital system (bringing goodies to the nurses in a effort for *better care* and hiring a doula to advocate for me against any procedures before, during and most importantly after birth that I am now informed about and very uncomfortable with) to get what I want. And in the happy event that had all been achieved and I had won the battle to have the birth experience of my dreams! (lol a little dramatic i know) – Then what? I would essentially be a healthy person with a tiny baby in a hospital, where in even the best facilities it is possible to catch infections that medicine struggles to treat or even in a textbook perfect stay, I would still be bothered by nurses checking on me all night as well as possibly other mothers and their babies on the ward. In fact every mum I have talked to and visited in hospital have all said that they couldn’t wait to be discharged and “get home” as soon after the birth as possible so that they could get comfortable and have a “real” rest.

    Sorry this reply has been so long (guess I was on a roll) but I am really grateful that I have been able to read other’s comments on this matter and it have really brought to light things I never even knew and would there for not have sort information about even when I had gotten pregnant. I mean they do not teach this in school do they?! lol

    Really I think that if ALL women knew ALL the options from home birth, to the free standing birth center (an excellent happy medium in my opinion) to hospitals and these were ALL available to every woman most importantly for FREE with support from professionals if needed – like it is in most parts of the UK, then you’d find that people would pick what they thought was best for them and we wouldn’t have so many woman with disappointing or even traumatising birth stories. I agree with another commentator above, as we women are the ones that have to have the baby – no mater where we go – so we should have the final say! I mean I am really beginning to think that if men gave birth, things would be a WHOLE LOT DIFFERENT lol.

    Finally if you have gotten through all this, I did have a few questions. If your husband was in support of homebirth (as I really do understand why people, especially men aren’t and that it is integral to your success that both of you agree and feel comfortable) would you have one with your next baby? Would you try for a water delivery again? Also, have you ever considered taking Hypnobabies childbirth classes to learn another way to navigate your pain (well they call it pressure) through the birth?

    • AllisonO

      Hi Michelle! I did get through all of it :).
      IF DanO were comfortable with a homebirth, I would certainly consider it for our next baby. The biggest factor for me would be the midwife. Presently I see a midwife at a clinic that is affiliated with the hospital where I delivered, and I’m fairly certain that none of the midwives there do homebirths. I would have to find a new care provider that I was comfortable with and then really go through the process of envisioning the birth and see if I could see myself being happier at home than in the wonderful hospital where we delivered OBaby.
      Good question about the water delivery, too! I wish I knew. There were pros and cons of my time in the water. Pro: It relaxed me and allowed for an easier ‘passage’ of my baby (i.e. no tearing), Con: slowed labor because I was SO relaxed I wasn’t feeling the need to push. I really can’t decide if I will want to try to deliver in a tub again!
      Birth class question: I LOVED the Bradley relaxation method as a pain (pressure ;) ) coping device. It completely worked for me and my body. Because of that, I don’t think I will pursue other models – I’ve already found one that works for me! My instructors also allow past students to come back for as many classes as they want free of charge, so DanO and I can go get a refresher course when the time comes if we feel the need.

      Thanks for such an engaged comment. I’m glad you took the time to share!

  42. Megan

    Thank you for this post! I too had a wonderful natural birth with our first daughter in a hospital. I hadn’t necessarily planned for a natural birth, but circumstances (i.e. arriving at the hospital fully dilated and pushing resulting in my daughter’s birth 19 minutes later) resulted in a natural birth. Afterwards, I couldn’t have been more glad that I had a natural birth – I felt that my recovery was easier (I was able to get out of bed not long after my daughter was born) and honestly, it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined it would be. I’m due in less than three weeks with my second daughter. I would like to have another natural hospital birth with her. I do have some medical complications this time which may necessitate an induction, but I am praying that a natural birth will be possible.

  43. Terri

    very well written! i also had a natural hospital birth with a midwife when william was born. although we do plan to have a homebirth for our next baby, we had an absolutely wonderful hospital birth with william. the main reason i want to have a homebirth next is because the car ride to the hospital during transition was awful!!! i agree that hospital births can still be natural and beautiful — i have such fond memories of william’s birth.

    the timing of your post is very poignant. william turns 1 tomorrow, so lately i have been reflecting back on his birth. parenthood has been a wonderful ride so far!


  44. Trista

    GREAT Post!!!! I had the same birth experience as you- well almost, mine was a water birth at a birth center attended by midwives and nurses- and let me tell you what, they know their stuff. I hemorrhaged really bad delivering the placenta. I was in the bottom of a tub and they immediately had an IV going, shots of pitocin to contract everything back into place. I felt so safe and taken care of, I unfortunately do not have any pictures of baby and me after the birth due to this so that really bummed me out but the important thing is to make sure that midwives have alot of education under their belts and just because they do not have a PhD does not mean they are not qualified bring miracles into this world. I will absolutely do a birth center birth again in the tub. I cannot imagine enduring labor without that water, but next time I will also do some research into many other forms of pain management so I can stay more relaxed.
    I love your blog and I hope you can check out mine at novicemommie.blogspot.com
    Thanks, Trista

  45. jen

    i think your advice about making sure you have a strong team is so true. i had amazing women (and a man) around me at all three of my hospital, non-medicated births. my midwife is truly one of the most amazing people i have ever met. she knew me better than i knew myself during my births. she knew what i could handle and knew when i was ready to push when i didn’t know it. (without checking my cervix … she said she could tell by the sound of my voice). she also tells me that she loves me and that she’s proud of me whenever we talk on the phone.
    a week or so after having my son, i received a hospital phone call asking about my experience. they asked if i would ever have another birth there … my answer was “i will give birth wherever my midwife is.” it has nothing to do with the decor or the nursing staff or the hospital food … and everything to do with my midwife.
    funny … we had a similar pain meds idea … if i asked for it … they had to wait 45 minutes. because my doula told us that often you ask for pain around the time that you will start birthing anyways …


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