Last night my husband and I had a long conversation about our birth experiences and how we felt each one went and what factors made us feel that way. Our first daughter, Nora, was born at a birth center, and was an overall pleasant experience. The labor was 12 hours, tough on us both, and got very intense in several ways towards the end. I got my drug free birth but I wouldn’t want to necessarily re-live it. We both agreed that the home birth of our second daughter, Hazel, far exceeded the first experience and our expectations really.
We were home. In our Nest, surrounded by all of the things that we love about life. The months leading up to our second daughters birth were spent transforming a spare bedroom into the birth room which would then turn into her room/girls playroom. Birth affirmations decorated one wall. Pictures of me, Jason and Nora were scattered about the room. My collection of large raw crystals in the windowsill. My soon to be daughter’s name hung on another wall. A salt lamp, flickering tea lights, and several strings of white christmas lights gave the room a soft warm glow. The aroma of essential oils from the diffuser. Calming labor music. The room was warm with a chilly breeze every now and then from the open window. You can read the birth story here.
This, my friends, is a whole lot of ambiance which I totally believe allowed us to have an amazing birth experience. (Of course the other people in the room who I love dearly played a big role in making it so wonderful, but let’s just stay on topic for now).
Don’t misunderstand, I am not saying that this kind of experience can only happen at home births. Of course there is no place like your space, but there are plenty of ways to hack your senses when birthing elsewhere.
Allow yourself the time during pregnancy to create the scene, discover what you really would like to have present when you are in labor. Especially if you will be at a hospital. It’s not stupid, it’s not new age, it’s not anything that should make a woman feel like she is over thinking. If there is any event in your life that you really should plan for, it’s when bringing a new life into the world. Envision your birth, see it, replay it. What items are around you? How does the room feel? Are you comfortable? What makes it comfortable? These are all questions you should ask yourself when you are preparing to give birth.
My husband and I both agreed that having all of those personal touches in the room with us is what made it so relaxing and secure. The birth center was nice, almost like birthing in a hotel room, but we didn’t think to bring anything with us besides a cooler with snacks and our bag with clothes. Even though it was my first birth which is typically tougher and longer, I still think it would have been more relaxing if we had something familiar to us in the room to focus on during contractions.
If you choose to birth at a hospital, see what their policy is on setting an ambiance in your room like:
- Can I control the temperature?
- May I wear my own clothes instead of a provided gown?
- Will the lights dim?
- Can I play soft music?
- Is there a birth tub or pool?
It will never hurt to ask and maybe if enough mothers begin to voice their wishes to have a little more say and freedom in what their birth space is like, policies may get reviewed and changed. We are mammals, and like most non-human mammals, mothers are most comfortable in a space THEY create to be the ideal birthing space. When they are comfortable, they have an easier time relaxing during labor because everything is familiar and there is no imminent threat. A relaxed mother will feel less discomfort during labor than one who tenses up, resisting the contractions.
Every woman’s vision will be different. So why must you all birth in the same exact room with the same smells, sights, and sounds? Hospital policies also will differ from one another, so be sure to KNOW what is allowed so you can create your ideal space to be as comfortable as you can. A home away from home. Your smells, your items, your choice.
You can plan as thoroughly as you want, but please keep in mind that things can change during labor and all you can do is accept the change and go with the flow. Keeping a positive mindset is so important….almost as important as having your Doula with you to guide and support you every step of the way.