Tips for a Natural Hospital Birth

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Disclaimer: Listen, I know birthing methods often get hotly debated in mommyland, and I feel the need to make my position about birth clear. I don’t care how you birth your children. Honestly, I don’t really care how I birth my own children. Mine and David’s whole goal has been and always will be to get the baby here safely. We will go into birth with a preferential method and we will do what is necessary from there to ensure a healthy baby. So if that means a natural birth, great; if it means getting an epidural, super; if it means having a c-section, bring it. So never will you EVER get a judgmental look from me when it comes to birth because it is all about personal preference and individual circumstances. Hell, I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for c-sections, so why would I be snooty when it comes to giving birth? Keep yourself and your baby safe, the rest is in the details that you won’t remember anyway.

Since I’ve posted George’s birth story, I’ve had several people ask me for tips on having a successful natural birth in a hospital. Now, while I am certainly no expert, and I’ve only done this thing once (who know what will happen with the next ones?), I did learn particular lessons during the experience and I’ve assembled some tips for a natural hospital birth that I hope will be helpful to at least one poor soul. Dave and I desired a natural birth because we believe giving birth without medication and intervention is the best option for mom and baby in most cases. We wanted to be in the hospital in case the previous statement did not hold true in our instance (which was a small reality for us). The following tips were vital part of my positive birthing experience:

Tips for Natural Hospital Birth

1. Assemble a strong team // During labor, surround yourself with people who you feel comfortable around and who will encourage you in the kind of birth you want. Many women love having a doula assist at birth. Some women love having their entire extended family in the room to cheer them on. Others, as in my case, prefer it to be more intimate and just have their husbands in the room. To prep for labor, Dave and I did a lot of reading. We found Dr. Bradley’s books and methods the most helpful and used his techniques throughout the labor. We also had really incredible nurses who actively participated in the labor. As corny as it sounds, we prayed for good nurses during the course of the entire pregnancy. As a nurse, Dave knows that a nurse can make or break one’s hospital stay, and we were hoping for positive nurses who would be supportive of our effort for a natural birth. God certainly blessed us.

2. Discuss your preferences beforehand with your caregiver // Hopefully, your OB or your midwife is supportive of you and your decisions when it comes to labor and delivery. If not, it’s still possible! What is important is that you make your preferences known during your prenatal visits. Talk about it all. Let them know plain and simple what you want, and ask them how they would act in various circumstances. Just get on the same page. Things will go much smoother when it’s showtime.

3. Don’t write out a birth plan // Crazy, right? My former pre-pregnant self would laugh at this advice and determine, in all the glory of my type-A personality, to write out a clear yet extensive birth plan with highlights and color-coding to hand out to all who entered my labor and delivery room. This advice to forego the written birth plan was given to us by our midwife, and I reluctantly agreed. I’m so glad I did. By writing out the details of our birth plan, I knew I would get so fixated on that perfect birth that I would not leave logical room for adjustments. We trust our midwife to the nth degree. She knew our birth plan, and we trusted her to stick to it as closely as reasonably possible. And she did.

Now, if you and your caregiver don’t see eye-to-eye, and your caregiver is relentless when it comes to undermining your wishes, then a written birth plan might be necessary. But for these purposes, I’m assuming (and praying!) that that is not your reality.

4. Remember that it is YOUR birth // Party people, you do not HAVE to do anything that the doctors tell you to do. Don’t forget that. What doctors give is their opinion and advice. Now, is this advice often spot on and a result of intense study? Oh yeah. Do they often know more than you? You bet your bottom dollar they do. Are most doctors solely concerned with your health and the health of your baby? Thankfully, yes. But at the end of the day, this is your baby and your birth. Listen to what your doctor recommends and LISTEN TO YOUR GUT. Take it all into account and, with your spouse, make informed decisions. That being said …

5. Avoid the Us vs. Them mentality // If you go into the hospital when in labor like a bull in a china shop, you’ll shoot yourself in the foot. Don’t go to the hospital with your guard up, ready to fight for your birth plan so help you God. That’s just stupid and it will get you nowhere fast. Assume the best of everyone at the hospital because chances are they want the best for you (duh). And while their opinion may differ from yours, you want them on your team. Just because you’ve heard horror stories about doctors and nurses ignoring other women’s requests doesn’t mean you can be any less polite and gracious to the people who are getting you water and wiping your butt. Win them over with your genuine kindness and they will stay in the trenches of labor with you for hours on end. Be team-minded, not opponent-minded.

6. “We’d like to wait an hour” // Memorize this phrase and use it often. It is magic. Nurses want to put you on pitocin? “We’d like to wait an hour and see how she progresses.” Doctor wants to break your water? “We’d like to wait and hour and see how things look then.” I tell you, people, this phrase is the most polite and clear way to make your intentions known. Often times, when an intervention is suggested, it is not really necessary in that moment. By stating that you’d like to wait an hour, you can really get a good idea about how concerned your caregivers really are. If you ask to wait and they oblige, then it’s obviously not something to be worried about. On the flip side, if it’s a real emergency, then they won’t even listen to what you’re saying because they know they need to act immediately. You see?

7. Move around // This one’s easy. Don’t stay in bed. Walk around. Rock in a rocking chair. Bounce on a birthing ball. Pee, a lot. Sit on the toilet backward. Do some squats. Hoola-hoop. Let gravity assist you.

8. Drink lots of water // Birth is a marathon, so stay hydrated!

9. Eat // Shh… Sneak some food in for yourself. I know, I know. Hospitals don’t like for you to eat while in labor. So use your own judgment like always and if it makes you too nervous, then don’t eat. I didn’t really want to eat throughout the entire labor until I reached 10 cm and was getting ready to push. I was so utterly exhausted, and I knew I had a ton of work ahead of me. Ergo, when my midwife and nurse left the room to gather birthing supplies, Dave snuck me some freeze-dried pineapple. This was the perfect food because: 1) it was sweet and refreshing; 2) pineapple has a natural pain-relieving quality; 3) the sugar gave me an immediate boost; and 4) it wasn’t painful to throw up (just being real). Eating can really help spur you on to the next phase of labor; so if you’re hungry, go for it.

10. Pack a well-stocked labor bag // This is vital. Your tricks and tools will be so beneficial when it comes to enduring contractions. This post details what we packed in our labor bag.

 Now it’s your turn! Any advice you would add for a successful labor?


  1. From a L&D RN: you give excellent advice!

  2. This is excellent! I am pregnant with my first and am so worried about my husband being too headstrong. I am going to share this with him and I know it will speak some calming advice into his mind. I especially like the, “We’d like to wait an hour” advice.

  3. I’m 36 weeks pregnant with my first and all this advice was very helpful. Thank you for sharing!

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