How to Have a Home Birth in the Hospital

Last time I was talking about the importance of keeping your options open when it came to where you wanted to have your baby- the importance of having the ability to choose home, birthing unit or labour ward on the day, rather than narrowing your options beforehand. Today I wanted to talk about what to do if you have your heart set on giving birth in a particular place but that doesn’t happen on the day.
For most of us we want to give birth where we feel comfortable and safe- there’s no right or wrong answer here- it’s all about your individual choice. However, what happens if where you feel comfortable and where you feel safe are two different places. What if on the day something arises and you decide that the safest place for you to have your baby (possibly the labour ward) is not where you feel comfortable. Well, I’d place a lot of money on most mums choosing the safe option over the comfortable option, and that makes sense but what is it about the safe option that isn’t comfortable? Why can’t we find comfort there too? Why can’t we simply bring the comforts of our ideal birth environment into the new environment?
The answer is- we CAN! We might just have to be a bit more imaginative about it. To me I think of comfort in 5 different ways- i.e. each of our 5 senses. If we can change our environment to suit each of our senses then we’re on to something. So, let’s break down exactly how we do this on the labour ward:
1)      Sight
·         The lights can be dimmed down low, this promotes oxytocin production and soothes tired eyes.
·         Bring a photo or picture that makes you smile or feel relaxed.
·         Use battery-fairy lights or LED candles to create a relaxed mood in the room.
·         Ask that any unnecessary medical equipment is taken away.
2)      Smell
·         Your own clothes have that wonderful smell of home, so keep them on, don’t feel the need to put on a hospital gown.
·         Pop on some of your ‘bump butter’ or favourite aromatherapy oil to remind you of all the times you felt relaxed through your pregnancy.
3)      Touch
·         Get your birth partner to give you a relaxing massage or just have them there, holding your hand, their physical presence can be so powerful.
·         Again, wear your comfortable clothes, you don’t need a gown unless you want one.
·         Bring in a pillow from home- the hospital won’t always have lots to help you feel comfortable, plus the smell will help to keep you relaxed too.
• Don’t be afraid to move into any position that feels comfortable, often we feel that if we are on the labour ward we must give birth on the bed but feel free to stand/ kneel/ use the birth ball or mat/ go into the bathroom. Move around however feels good to you.
4)      Taste
·         Bring in your favourite snacks- the more sugar the better! You will need little bursts of energy and sugary snacks are great for this. Although the hospital won’t let you starve- they might not always have what you fancy, so make sure you bring some for yourself.
• Drinks are important too- isotonic drinks are best, so pack them in your birth bag beforehand.
• Bring your toothbrush and toothpaste as well, if you’re in hospital for a little while you might feel more refreshed if you’ve got minty fresh teeth (or you might no care- no judgement here of course!).
5)      Hearing
·         Play your own music to help you to feel at home and to invoke feelings of happiness and calmness.
·         Play your hypnobirthing MP3’s. If you’ve been listening to these throughout your pregnancy then these will certainly help to relax when it comes to giving birth.
•Bring headphones and a mini-speaker, that way you can block out all noise if you like with the headphones or just have the speaker on in the background.
There you go, a few simple points to help you to feel at home, wherever you are when you’re giving birth!
Chloe is an awesome midwife and hypnobirthing teacher, offering Private courses and Pregnancy Relaxation groups in Upminster.
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