10 Insider Tips to Rock an Unmedicated Birth in a Hospital Setting

February 16, 2020

As a labor and delivery nurse, I know there can be a lot of obstacles when you want to have a natural birth in a hospital setting. Doctors and nurses are trained in using interventions, and we see them so frequently that we usually don't hesitate to use interventions at times. That being said, I WANT you to rock your natural birth; it's just that the hospital isn't always the EASIEST place to do so.

Why I am here and who I am:

Hey mama, I am Trish— AKA Labor Nurse Mama. I am a labor and delivery nurse with over 15 years of high-risk OB experience. I am also a mama to 7 kids and have given birth to 6. This means I am quite familiar with the postpartum period and how to navigate it. I am the online birth class educator for Calm Labor Confident Birth and The VBAC Lab birth classes and the mama expert inside our Calm Mama Society, a pregnancy & postpartum membership community! I am passionate about your birth and motherhood journey! You can find me over on IG teaching over 230k mamas daily. I am passionate about your birth and motherhood journey!

We make a small commission from some of the links (you don’t pay any more for using our links); however some of the recommendations, we do not earn anything; we love ’em and want you to know about them. Click here for our full disclosure. Thank you!

Enjoy this guest post from a fellow Labor and Delivery Nurse, Hanna!

That's why I came up with this impressive list of 10 things you have to do to avoid pain medications in the hospital! Keep reading to find out more! These tips will help you avoid most interventions in the hospital, which will, in turn, help you have that fantastic natural birth you so long for.

Read this in-depth post about having a natural birth in a hospital setting or at home, I've written one here. Also if you'd like to know exactly what happens during a vaginal birth in the hospital, check that out here!

#1 Stay Home As Long As Possible

I cannot emphasize this enough! The earlier you are admitted to the hospital, the more likely it is that interventions will happen. It's not because nurses and doctors are mean and don't want you to have the birth that you want. It's because the hospital is a business, the sooner they can get you delivered, and out of the room, the sooner they will have room for another patient! That's how they make money.

Your labor might take a long time, especially the early stage of labor and if you're not progressing according to their “plan,” they might want to break your waters, or start oxytocin. If that happens, your labor might get stronger and more painful than it would naturally; hence, it will be much harder to avoid the pain medications.

I recommend going into the hospital when you ABSOLUTELY cannot bear the pain anymore. It might be smart to labor close to the hospital, get a hotel room or an Airbnb; that way you won't worry about having the baby on the way to the hospital. Especially if you live far away. If you have your first baby, it's not very likely that you will have the baby on the way there. If you have your second or subsequent baby, you might want to give yourself a little more time 🙂

Staying at home will make it easier for you to cope with contractions and you will even dilate easier! Home is where the heart is, and strange places (like the hospital) are not ideal for laboring.

Let your provider know what your plan is and find out what their recommendation is as well! This is just something that I've seen in my practice, but your provider (doctor or midwife) will let you know if it's right for you.

#2 Get Admitted When You're In Active Labor

This ties in with item number one on the list. If you are induced, ignore this one.

Once you absolutely cannot handle your contractions anymore go into the triage at your hospital and get checked!

If you are anything less than about five cms, ask if you can leave and come back again later to be checked before getting admitted to your room. This again will help prevent you from getting any unnecessary interventions and improve your goal of natural birth in a hospital setting.

Once you are in active labor, that means you're having painful, strong contractions that last at least a minute and are less than 4 minutes apart, get admitted to your room!

Related Post: Six Signs Of Labor (Know When to Go to The Hospital)

#3 Have a Printed Birth Plan

The birth plan will let your team at the hospital know exactly what your wishes are for your birth. Having it printed out is amazing because once you are in active labor, you probably won't want to talk or explain anything.

Make your birth plan very detailed! Explain your reasons for wanting to birth without medications. This way, your team can get to know you well.

#4 Hire a Doula

Or, if you can't afford a doula, get a close friend or family member to support you! Doulas are great because their sole purpose at your birth is to assist YOU.

You get to know them well ahead of time, so unlike your nurse (who might be awesome by the way!), she knows you really well.

She knows your personality and your wishes and plans. A doula can advocate for you in ways that no one else really can because a doula knows the system!

I cannot praise doulas enough! They are amazing if you want to have a natural birth.

Don't know how to find the right doula? I've got a great post about that! Top Ten Questions to Ask Your Doula

Be sure to comment below and tell us what helped or thwarted your plan to have a natural birth in the hospital!

#5 Don't Overuse the Bed

Most labor and delivery rooms put the hospital bed dead center in the middle of the room.

If you want to avoid pain medication and have a natural birth, I'd recommend you stay away from the bed as much as possible. I see some women who do really well on the bed, they lie on their side, get through a contraction, and then sleep between contractions. Although I highly recommend resting as much as you can between contractions, I don't think a lot of women find a good position to cope with contractions on the bed.

Use the birthing ball, walk around, get down on all fours. One way to use the bed is to raise it really high and then lean on the bed as you stick your hips out and rock back and forth.

But I don't think to lie down on the bed is helpful for labor.

Ask your nurse to get portable monitors if they have to monitor your baby during labor continuously. Also, ask if you need any monitors at all!

If your pregnancy is low-risk, you can ask your nurse to monitor your babies heart rate intermittently. As long as nothing is wrong with you or the baby, the nurse should be able to do that until your baby is born.

#6 Move Around

Walking around, dancing, and swaying are a few positions that are awesome for you to do if you want a medication-free natural birth. Not only will movement make the contractions more tolerable, but the movement will also help the baby come down into an optimal position.

The better position your baby is in, the faster you will dilate because the pressure on your cervix will be in all the right spots.

If you get a doula, you will be able to practice these movements before your labor, but a lot of it will come naturally at the time as well. Sometimes you won't know what you'll like before the start of labor, and you'll have to try lots of different things once in the delivery room!

#7 Listen to Your Instincts

It's so important that you pay attention to your instincts.

Listen to what your body is telling you! If you feel the need to go into a certain position, it's probably going to be helpful for your labor. Usually, your body sends signals that are helpful for the progress of labor.

If you feel the need to vocalize during contractions, do it! Now, I'm not talking about screaming and shouting, that would be very counteractive to your labor.

I'm talking about guttural sounds, like grunting, that can help you progress! I sang through one of my labors! It was very distracting for me and helped me get through each contraction, one at, a time.

Your body knows exactly what to do! It grew your baby, and it can birth your baby. Don't get in your head; just let whatever happens, happen. The looser you are, the faster you will dilate. It's true! Everything in our bodies is connected, and your instincts will guide the way.

I wrote a nice little post about ways to cope with your contractions in labour: The Best Way to Cope With Contractions During Labour

#8 Ask for Options

If something happens that doesn't lean towards your birth plan, ask your providers for options. For example, if the nurse says you're progressing too slowly (not dilating fast enough) and the doctor ordered to start oxytocin, ask if they can wait a bit and give you a few more hours. Or, better yet, ask if there are any other options available.

You always have options. Question everything! You'd be surprised how flexible we can be.

I'm rooting for you! I want you to have the birth that you desire, so find out what options are available for everything!

#9 Use Hydrotherapy

Water is awesome in labor. If you have the opportunity to sit in a bathtub, it will not only help your pain; it will relax you well.

Guess what? When you're relaxed, you dilate faster! Yep, I've seen it a million times. Women go from 4 cms to fully dilated within hours in the tub. It's truly magical and makes natural birth in a hospital setting much more tolerable.

If the hospital you're delivering at doesn't offer tubs, you can always use a shower. The showerhead is excellent for massaging your back during back labor, and the warm water will relax you as well!

#10 Try Different Positions – Change often

This is true throughout your labor, but it especially is important during the pushing phase! If you change positions frequently, your baby will move down faster.

You don't know how many times I've seen a woman move from her back to her side during pushing and the baby almost always just slides out! Ok, that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but honestly, position changes during pushing help a lot.

Also, during pushing, push, however, is instinctual and comfortable for you, the doctor or midwife will figure out a way to catch the baby!

Related Post: Natural Birth Guide for The Millennial Mom

That's it for now!

Follow these ten tips, and I'm sure you'll be much more likely to have a natural birth in a hospital setting, without an epidural or other pain meds!

I believe in you! You have the power within you to make anything happen.

Check out a shorter version of this natural birth guide on Instagram!

Hey Friends, I hope you enjoyed this guest post by fellow labor nurse and blogger, Hanna. Hanna is from Canada and writes over at Baby Talk! Head over and check out her blog and show her some love! Be sure to comment with your stories & questions! You'll get two labor nurses for the price of one! 

labor nurse mama trish ware

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Just a little Disclaimer: As always, I am just writing my thoughts and what I’ve learned along the way. Although I am in fact a labor and delivery RN, This is not medical advice. You should always seek and follow the advice of your care provider.

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