Natural Birth in a Hospital

Updated on October 31, 2011
C.R. asks from Parcel Return Service, DC
18 answers

Can anyone share their experience with natural birth in a hospital? My current OB practices at Georgetown University Hospital, which I like, but I'm nervous that I won't be able to have the type of birth I want. If anyone has advice or would share specifics about natural birth in a hospital setting (especially Georgetown University Hospital), I'd really appreciate it. Thanks!

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone for their support and advice. I gave birth to a beautiful boy on September 20, 2010 and I was mostly happy with the experience. Being in a teaching hospital, there was a lot of pressure for a speedy (pitocin-aided) delivery, but I was prepared and able to ask the right questions, resulting in a completely natural birth. I was very relieved to be in a hospital with such a fabulous NICU, since DS inhaled meconium and needed immediate attention. My husband and I took Hypnobirthing classes which helped me save up energy for the really tough part of labor, and the nurses we had were fantastic.

For anyone out there struggling with their birthing choices, I highly recommend being in a state-of-the-art facility and being confident and informed about the many intricacies of hospital procedure. I'm now pregnant with #2 and am planning to have another natural hospital birth.

More Answers



answers from San Francisco on

I had a natural birth at Kaiser with my daughter and it went really well, better than I had hoped for. My advice would be to try and get a doula, we found one through our local birth center who had recently completed her training and needed to donate her time as a doula (she was amazing). Also, right a detailed birth plan, like what you do want and what you do not want to happen during the birth, remember to include what is ok in case of emergencies. Give a copy of the birth plan to everyone, your doula, people who are going to be in the room with you and the hospital staff/doctor. The other thing that was helpful for me was to take natural birth classes prior to the birth, then you and your partner know what to expect and how to give birth naturally. We also did these classes through our local birth center.
Also if you can have a nurse midwife at the birth that is great too!

Hope this information helps, and congratulations on your choice! I really think your baby will be so much happier and healthier without the drugs in it's newborn system!

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answers from Washington DC on

I delivered at home because I was told by doctor acquaintances that I would have a difficult time keeping with my birth plan if I went to the hospital. My husband is an anesthesia resident and he agreed. I did have some friends, though, who recently had natural births at the hospital. I agree with many of the posters, who have great comments, so I won't say too much more. I would for sure go to the hospital later in your labor and I would do everything you can to stay off your back. Most likely they will want you on your back to do continuous fetal montinoring. Consent to intermittent and you might only need to be on you back for 10-15 minutes. Getting a doula or midwife who will stand up for your birth plan while you are busy laboring. A natural birth in a hospital setting can be done. Good luck and congratulations!!

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answers from Washington DC on

I gave birth at Georgetown in January of 2008. My husband and I took a hypnobirthing class, and I ended up having a completely unmedicated vaginal birth there. The doctors and medical students were amazed; the doctor who delivered my son (Dr. Udwin) told me afterwards that only about 5% of women who have babies at Georgetown do so without medication, and of that 5%, half of them are not by choice. So, it's totally possible, but not common. A couple of key things: 1. A clear, concise birth plan (1 page). We basically told them to leave us alone and let us do what we learned in class, and they respected that pretty well. 2. Take a child birth class outside of Georgetown. A friend of mine took just the Georgetown class with the intention to have an unmedicated birth, and ended up with an epidural. I think that unmedicated child birth requires a higher level of preparation than what is typically offered at the hospitals. 3. It's all about hypnobirthing! I was totally skeptical right up until my last class, but that stuff worked! The best money I ever spent! 4. There's a piece that's the luck of the draw at Georgetown. Your baby will be delivered by whoever is on when you go into labor. I got lucky in that Dr. Udwin was willing to follow my birth plan. Some of the OB's that I encountered (Dr. Breen in particular) were less than supportive of elements of my birth plan. I was glad (and lucky) to have who I had.

Although I had a positive experience at Georgetown, for my next child I'm going with an OB that is in solo practice, so that I know exactly who I'll be seeing and who I'll be dealing with when I deliver. Good luck!

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answers from Tampa on

Hire a doula if you don't have one already. :)

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answers from Seattle on

I had my daughter in an unmedicated natural birth at a hospital. I wanted a home birth, but that was a no-go for my hubby and a birth center wasn't on our insurance plan.
I took several things into consideration when choosing my provider/hospital:
- If you can go with a midwife! Even if a CNM you are much less likely to be sent down the cascading interventions road. Your provider should be supportive of your wishes and encouraging. Stay away from anyone with a high rate of c sections, or who wants to talk you into pain medication your induction! Ask very frankly what their c-s rate is and what interventions they usually perform and at what rates! If they are not forthcoming you know they are not who you want.
- I would NOT pick a teaching hospital EVER! I have been in med school, I have a lot of friends and family in the medical field and if you think, that they are not trigger happy when it comes to interventions, so they have something to teach, you are GROSSLY mistaken! In addition you may have 10 students staring at you while you try give give birth (yup, I have been there as a student). NOT what you want! Choose a smaller, community type hospital if you can.
- do your homework and know what you want and what not, Stand up for yourself and have a support person that will stand up for you, if you are to busy laboring. Stay home for as long as you can.
And last but not least don't be afraid to switch providers. Personally I would never again see an OB for maternity care unless I had complications. If you really want an OB, make SURE he is supportive. If he seems hesitant, he WILL talk you into things that you don't want, even if they are unnecessary.
If you do go with an OB, get a doula.
I had a wonderful experience and would do it again anytime!
Good luck.

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answers from Washington DC on

My daughter was delivered at Georgetown in Sept '07. While I opted for a c-section because my baby was breech and I had been diagnosed with preeclampsia, my sense was the doctors were ready to meet my requests as long as I communicated what I wanted, especially ahead of time. In my situation, the ob who was there did ask whether I wanted to go through with the technique in which they try to turn the baby around to encourage a vaginal delivery. I declined the procedure because I didn't want to deal with it. I had also previously taken a hypnobirthing class to prepare for an unmedicated birth as much as possible, but you see how the birth actually turned out. If you do not consent to an epidural or pain medication, you will not receive one - plain and simple. The more prepared you are ahead of time, by going through hypnobirthing or hypnobabies, the better equipped you will be. The one thing I am aware of is that in a hospital, the doctors are not likely to let you go beyond 24 hours of labor with no progress. So if you've been at it for about 24 hours and you're not close to dilation for whatever reason, they are more than likely to urge a c-section delivery, whereas a birthing center or home delivery, you could labor for up to a week and deliver naturally.

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answers from Dallas on

I delivered my second DS naturally 8 months ago. I had it planned before I even got pregnant, and when I was prego I typed up my birth plan I told my dr I wanted to stick to it. She told me I wouldn't be able to do it. I dont have tons of advice but stay home as long as you can and walk. I got to the hospital and was already at a 7 1/2 cm and no one believed me when I walked in. Good luck and I hope everything works out how you want it to.



answers from Chicago on

I had a natural birth at a hospital for both of my pregnancies, and 1 of them was twins. With my first by the time I was asking for some relief, it was already time to push. With my twins I was going to have an epidural just incase they had to do a c-section for one of both of them. It ended up being to late again, so another natural birth.

As the other poster stated. Do you have a low or high tolerance to pain. My is pretty high, and I had horrible back labor. I felt the delivery was the least painful part, but again my kids were all under 6lbs.



answers from San Francisco on

I had a natural birth with my son. It was definitely an interesting experience. The idea of medication is to relax the muscles and take away the pain, right? Well, you need those muscles awake and at their full capacity when trying to push the baby out. So it just made sense to do it that way. I was in a typical room, no white sheets or metal table and stirrups, so it was kind of nice. The tv was on in the background and everyone around me until it was time to deliver (for me almost 13 hours later).

Everyone has their own limit of pain tolerance, mine was high and I'll probably do it that way again. What is yours? And pushing the baby through the birth canal helps push all the liquids from the baby's lungs and is much better for the baby. Either way, good luck to you.



answers from Fayetteville on

I've had experiences with this in both my children's births. I would say first and foremost you HAVE TO find a doctor who supports you in this and that you trust will do what you want. My first delivery did not go exactly as planned because my doctor ended up doing what she wanted anyway - even though she had told me during the visits that she would support me and let me decide. That's why I say you have to find one you can trust.. I thought I had that time. The second birth was with a wonderful doctor that DID support me completely. However in that one, my labor ended up 3 times as long as the first and I caved at the very end and asked for IV meds. lol I was very disappointed in myself because I wanted to do it without. The nurses play a big part too - if you can, meet them ahead of time and get a feel for how much they will support you too. The doctor usually knows what the hospital will or won't allow you to do so ask questions, specific and lots of them at your visits. With my second delivery I was allowed to stay out of the bed right up until pushing and actually I had mats on the floor ready to deliver in a squat on the floor if I wanted. They were going to let me do that but in the moment I decided to get into the bed for the actual delivery. But during labor I was pretty free. I also had only intermittent monitoring. Again, this was pre-discussed and the doctor told me what he could and could not allow according to hospital policy. I could go on with lots of different aspects of this, but I think the bottom line is you need to realize that you most likely will be in for a fight to get the birth you want in a hospital setting. It's worth it though if you are prepared to stick to your guns and your husband is also ready and supportive. (that's a BIG factor too - when you are in the height of the pain, your hubby needs to know what your wishes are and make sure it happens with the nurses and doctor!) I would say too that if you are feeling nervous about getting what you want, then you probably won't. Just to be honest there. Looking back on my first delivery, I was very naive about the whole situation, thinking I would get what I wanted. I should have listened to my gut and gone somewhere else. Anyway, if you have any specific questions you can message me if you want. :) I hope you have the experience you want!



answers from Indianapolis on

I'd contact the hospital directly to find out their policies. For instance, the hospital where I delivered both children doesn't do water births. Then, I'd check with the OB/GYN regarding their personal practice policies. If they are employed by the hospital, they will have to follow the hospital's guidelines. If they're independent with privileges at the hospital, it may be completely different.

OB/GYN has the highest malpractice rates along with anesthesiology which is why many OB's don't deliver breach, do VBACs, etc.

For legal concerns, they may have a policy that doesn't match your personal birthing preferences.

So those reasons, I'd do the research now so you can plan accordingly.

Best wishes.



answers from Casper on

I had a great experience at Dixie Medical Center in Utah. All the nurses knew pressure points and that really took the pain away. At the end it took 4 nurses to do the pressure and they were good at it.

Another thing I have heard to do and would try again is to use a book called hypnobirthing - read it before the big event. A girl I know tried it and she said it helps. Good luck!



answers from Seattle on

Have a written birth plan that you can give to your nurses. Had I not been induced that was my plan too, and my doula was able to intervene and guide me without drugs until that point. Even after she saved me from an unnecessary csection after the epidural! I strongly recommend a doula, they're much more educated about labor and delivery, and calmer than your husband/partner/family will be.



answers from Boise on

Are you concerned that the hospital won't allow a natural birth, or your doctor? Have you talked to your doctor about the type of birth you want? Do you have a birth plan? A doula? I think that the doctor should be your first stop to make sure that he supports you. If not, then look for a new one ASAP.

Oh, and my birth was natural all the way up until they did the spinal for the emergency c-section. I was able to feel everything, and they let me do things how I wanted with no suggestion of drugs or any discouragement.



answers from Washington DC on

I have had two great natural births in a hospital setting- the second one was an induction and it still worked out. My advice: Don't let anyone discourage you. Know what you want and plan for a variety of situations. Like others have said, a doula is an invaluable resource. And above all, remember that your biggest ally at the hospital is your nurse. I strongly suggest asking (in your birth plan) for a nurse that is familiar with unmedicated laboring. This can make or break your hospital experience.

Also, unless you must labor at the hospital I would recommend waiting as long as you can (within reason) to go to the hospital. If you have made it to 4 or 5 cm by the time you arrive they will be much less likely to try to convince you that you need interventions. If it looks like you will need to be induced, feel free to message me privately and I would be happy to talk about what I did to try and ensure success with that situation.

Best of luck to you!!



answers from Philadelphia on

Hey I recommend you read the book Natural Hospital Birth. It addressed all of these questions perfectly for me. and talks about the best and most effective way to plan for a natural hospital birth and how to talk to your doctor about it, building a support system, etc. I was also really worried about not being able to get the kind of birth I wanted because it is hard to speak up in the medical setting or have your voice heard. I hope this helps.



answers from Washington DC on

As a doula, and a HypnoBirthing practitioner, I have a couple of things to add. Many of the comments I agree with. Such as, teaching hospitals do have a higher rate of C-sections and epidurals. It is much harder to get a natural unmedicated birth @ a hospital with an OB.
Here's my 2 cents. Birth does not have to be painful! Yes, sometimes it is.
You can change to a birth center at any time before your baby is out! If you are in DC, there is the DC Birth Center/DC Developing Families Center. Fully staffed by CNM's and waterbirths are possible. Their back up hospital is Washington Hospital Center. They will also attend women @ the hospital center who wish a hospital birth.
Check out the book: "Hey, Who's Having This Baby Anyway?".
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
L. M



answers from Washington DC on

This is one of those times when it's best not to ask. Everyone's situation is so different. Some will have stories of bliss; some will have horror stories. You'll either have a false expectation or be terrified out of your mind. Just go through and embrace your own moment. Pray for the best and let the Lord do the rest. Concentrate instead on what things to take to the hospital, what to do to recover properly, what questions to ask the doctor, and how/when to demand an epidural if you feel you need some help. Rest in the hospital while you can. Also know that it's ok if things do not go the way you planned. The point is they are going. Giving birth is natural and medicine has done much to make it safer, but really there's only so much predictability. Be flexible, be optimistic, and be as relaxed as you can be about this beautiful time in your life. It's a gift, being a part of the miracle of life. Enjoy! Congratulations!

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