Have you ever heard the saying that goes, "if you don't stand up for yourself, no one else will?" This saying is especially important to remember during your labor and birth. You, along with your birth support team (partner, friend, doula, etc.), are you own best advocate when it comes to communicating your preferences in labor and birth.
Speaking up for yourself doesn't come naturally to everyone, and can feel downright frightening for some, which is why it's important to learn how to speak up during labor. Read the following tips to prepare yourself for the big day. Be sure also to get your birth support team on board, since they will be responsible for helping you speak up while you hard at work focusing on labor.
1. Request your nurse. If you have specific preferences and goals, like giving birth without pain medication or having a water birth, for example, you can ask upon check in at the hospital for a nurse who is comfortable supporting someone with your kind of birth. You may not be able to have your choice of nurse, but it doesn't help to ask! Also, if you end up with a nurse that you discover later on isn't the best fit, you can ask to be reassigned a different nurse.
2. Get out of bed. Laboring in a bed on your back is a very uncomfortable position to experience contractions. But upon entering the hospital, you are asked to get into bed to be monitored, have an IV inserted, get checked vaginally, and other routine hospital procedures. You do not, however, have to do any of this while lying down in bed! You can let your nurse know that you would like to sit up in bed, stand, sit on a birth ball, or kneel -- positions that are all compatible with most hospital admittance procedures. You also, in many cases, can decline routine procedures if you don't want to have them, like vaginal checks, for example.
3. Get monitored and then get off. Most hospitals require a standard 15 minutes per hour monitoring on an electronic fetal monitor. If you're not familiar with this device, it is made up of two elastic bands that are wrapped around your belly -- one to monitor your contractions and one to monitor your baby's heartbeat. Take note of the time you begin monitoring so you can remind the nurse (who may be attending another patient) when it's time to come off. Also, keep in mind that you can be monitored in positions other than lying on your back in bed. Most nurses will work with you to find a position that is more comfortable for you to be monitored -- but you usually need to ask for it.
4. Protect your hospital room environment. Turn down the lights, keep the door closed, adjust the thermostat, close the curtains (or keep them open!), ask for more pillows (they're usually in a cabinet), ask for an ice pack or heating pad (some hospitals carry disposables), turn down the volume on the monitor. There are so many things you can do to make your hospital room more comfortable, private, and peaceful. This is the perfect job to delegate to someone on your birth team.
5. Ask questions about procedures and ask for time to think. Sometimes, nurses, midwives, and doctors get so caught up in the routine of their job, they forget to take the time to explain what is happening. If you have a question about anything related to you or your baby's care, ask! And if you are faced with making a decision (unless it's an emergency situation), it's ok to ask for more information and more time to think it over.
What else do you think you'll need to speak up for in labor? What will help you be more vocal? Have you shared your preferences with your birth support team? Are they comfortable with speaking up on your behalf?
TagsBirth Hospital Birth