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When planning their child’s birth, many moms-to-be want labor to proceed naturally, with as few medical procedures as possible. At the same time, they want the peace of mind that comes from knowing that life-saving care is close if they need it.
“Pregnant moms shouldn’t have to choose between a natural childbirth and a safe one,” says Andrea Messel, a certified nurse midwife at AdventHealth. We offer women the best of both worlds: the support to carry out the natural birth plan they may want combined with the modern technology available only at a hospital.
For a long time, moms who wanted that safety had to make a compromise. When Messel had her own children, she wasn’t allowed to get out of bed or shape the experience in a meaningful way.
Today, birth is different. Mom is in the driver’s seat.
“This is your labor, this is your body, this is your baby,” Messel said.
Some women want medication to control pain, including through intravenous medication or an epidural nerve block. For their own reasons, other moms choose to go without these options.
Though it can be more painful, there are advantages to a natural childbirth. You may be able to get up and move around more quickly, you may not need a urinary catheter and you can recover faster. Pain medication may also have a subtle effect on a newborn, possibly making it harder for them to latch on to your breast right away.
“Afterward, moms say ‘Yes, it was painful, but it wasn’t unbearable,’” Messel says of natural childbirth.
Medication isn’t the only way to manage the stress and pain of labor. We’ve learned other ways to help moms and families achieve natural childbirth.
A Family-Centered Birth Plan
For many moms, it’s important to have support from loved ones during labor. She may only want her partner to be with her, or she may want more family.
To Messel, anyone who helps comfort mom is a welcome presence.
“As long as I can get to where I need to get to and nurses can be where they need to be, we’re happy to have you,” she said.
Many women also want a doula to be part of their birth team. A doula is a person who supports you through labor and delivery. To read more about doulas, click here.
Music, Showers and More
You can’t control when you go into labor. And you often can’t control how that labor proceeds. But we do everything in our power to put everything else under your control.
It’s called a “birth experience,” and it could include just about anything that puts you and your loved ones at ease. Some women want to relax in the tub or shower. Others want to dance.
Your preferred music and lighting can set the mood, and we have in-room fridges so you can bring snacks. Our labor and delivery rooms also have pull-out beds, so your partner can rest.
We can decide on comforting language ahead of time. Some moms prefer to speak of “waves” rather than contractions, Messel says.
“I think the plan gives moms something to look forward to,” she says.
In addition to helping you feel comfortable, a plan to walk around during labor can hasten the baby’s delivery.
“We find that moms and babies do much better when we have a mom who is very active,” she says. Having a natural birth means we don’t feel rushed to speed up a natural childbirth unless we have to, but there are some gentle steps we can take.
Using a breast pump, for example, is one way to stimulate the body’s production of oxytocin, a hormone that can move labor along.
“We’re hands-on when we need to be,” Messel says.
In the end, a birth experience is less about the amenities and more about how they make you feel.
“Our patients want to feel like they’re the only person on that floor,” she says, “and that they’re getting all the attention that they should.”
Many women also find comfort in knowing they’re delivering with a safety net. If conditions change, a hospital is also ready to shift instantly into life-saving mode.
“Every second counts when there’s an emergency,” Messel says.
Sometimes, births don’t go exactly according to plan. You may ask for help you end up not needing or require an extra push you hadn’t planned on.
You Can Change Your Mind
There’s no such thing as a failed birth plan — only a change in the plan. At a birthing center, such change might require a transfer to a hospital.
“We get a lot of patients in birthing centers who say the moment they say they want IV medicine they have to get transferred,” Messel says, which can lead to feelings of failure.
But delivering a baby in the way you want is a success, not a failure.
“I tell everybody, ‘This is your plan, not my plan, not dad’s plan, not auntie’s,’” she said. “In the end, you’re going to have a baby.”
Some moms, too, ask to be reminded about their birth plan even if they ask for an epidural or pain medication.
Because whole-person health is at the center of our philosophy, we help you create a birth experience that touches your body, mind and spirit. Moms who want a natural birth can find it here along with the comfort of knowing you’re in the safest place for you and your baby.