What it's like to labor naturally in a hospital?? — The Bump
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What it's like to labor naturally in a hospital??

My first birth was with two failed epidurals, this go around I've decided to go epidural-free. I remember hating the fact that while in so much pain I had an IV in, a blood pressure cuff on, and was bound to the hospital bed after they started the pitocin. I took 21 hours so it was a long time to be bound down too. Here is my question...if I am not induced and do not get an epidural, will I still have to be hooked up to stuff?? I hope that isn't a dumb question. Will I be allowed to get up and move and bring a birthing ball if I want? I plan on asking my doctor these questions too but would love to hear from you ladies. TIA.

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Re: What it's like to labor naturally in a hospital??

  • It depends on where you are giving birth. Your best bet is to just call and ask. The hospital I'm delivering at will allow you to get up and walk around if you don't get an epidural or use any pain medication.
  • My hospital was very natural birth friendly.  They made me get a hep lock only in the event I did need intervention, but other than that I labored freely the entire time.  I was monitored 30 minutes or so with a portable doppler and that is it.  I labored on a birthing ball and stool they provided, I labored in the shower, I was encouraged to do whatever I needed to do.  It was a wonderful experience! 


    bunnywahlcardielmc929
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  • It really depends on your hospital and your care provider. I had a med-free childbirth where I was monitored intermittently with a hand-held doppler. I didn't even have to have an IV or a heparin lock. I gave birth standing up :) Chose your hospital and doc/midwife carefully! 
  • I agree that it is a combination of your OB/MW and hospital's policies. 

    My hospital's policy is that you must have a hep lock in one hand ready for an IV, but it does not need to be connected and it is not standard to have an IV.  Periodic monitoring of baby and blood pressure (every 30-60 minutes for just a few minutes) but it didn't require laying in bed - just that you be near the bed and still enough to take the measurements.  I was allowed to use the shower which was nice with a shower wand so you could put the hot water wherever it helped when contractions. 
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  • I had to be monitored because I had high blood pressure throughout my third trimester. I still had access to a birth ball and could move around, I just needed assistance from the nurse in getting unhooked. I was only in the hospital for 3.5 hours when my son was born.

    This time around, I'm pushing to avoid all of those things but will actually request a hep lock. I'm a hard stick and it took an anesthesiologist to get my IV line in, after 90 minutes of nurses trying.
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  • Please keep in mind that you are a patient not a prisoner.  All interventions require your consent, provided you are mentally capable of making decisions you can decline anything.  With my hospital they recommended 20 minutes of continuous monitoring in triage and after that they came with the doppler every 15 minutes or so to listen to the HB, it even worked under water so I didn't have to get out of the bath.  Even with the continuous monitoring you don't have to lay in bed, I just stood next to the bed for the 20 minutes with my second because I didn't want to lay down.  The nurse tried to give me a little trouble, but I held firm and my mom supported me and she finally agreed.  With all three of mine I wasn't hooked up to anything, I didn't even have a saline lock.  I had total freedom of movement which was wonderful!  

    If you find yourself in a situation where you are being induced or need to be monitored continuously, you should still be able to get up.  Have them bring the birthing ball next to the bed or the rocking chair, stand next to the bed, etc.  Even if your provider is fully supportive, labor at home as long as possible.  I arrived at 6cm with my first and fully dilated with my second and third.  It's just more comfortable at home and you are less likely to feel pressured by the staff.
    crsanchez87bunnywahlkapowfallmc929
  • It depends on the hospital, if they have wireless monitoring. My hospital did. I walked for the whole 7 hours of labor.

    I also fell in love with this book with my son. I feel like it is a great read for anyone aiming for a natural hospital birth. I highly recommend it:http://www.amazon.com/Natural-Hospital-Birth-Best-Worlds/dp/1558327185

  • Isschwege said:
    Please keep in mind that you are a patient not a prisoner.  All interventions require your consent, provided you are mentally capable of making decisions you can decline anything.  With my hospital they recommended 20 minutes of continuous monitoring in triage and after that they came with the doppler every 15 minutes or so to listen to the HB, it even worked under water so I didn't have to get out of the bath.  Even with the continuous monitoring you don't have to lay in bed, I just stood next to the bed for the 20 minutes with my second because I didn't want to lay down.  The nurse tried to give me a little trouble, but I held firm and my mom supported me and she finally agreed.  With all three of mine I wasn't hooked up to anything, I didn't even have a saline lock.  I had total freedom of movement which was wonderful!  

    If you find yourself in a situation where you are being induced or need to be monitored continuously, you should still be able to get up.  Have them bring the birthing ball next to the bed or the rocking chair, stand next to the bed, etc.  Even if your provider is fully supportive, labor at home as long as possible.  I arrived at 6cm with my first and fully dilated with my second and third.  It's just more comfortable at home and you are less likely to feel pressured by the staff.

    Yes, this. I'm finding it interesting that the responses have been regarding what your hospital policy is or provider is comfortable with. You can decline anything.  

    Yes, hopefully you have a provider that is willing to listen, be supportive and help you with this.  Research what your comfortable with, change providers if needed, research surrounding hospitals in your network, what you think you need to help with the pain, bring in an advocate during labor (mom, doula, friend, spouse) if you don't think you will be able to stand up for yourself while in pain. Ask for a nurse that enjoys natural birth when you check in.  They cannot refuse care to you in labor over this, remember this! And you can ask for different nurses or whatever provider is on call. 



  • If you write a birth plan and your provider agrees to it, you can usually count on hospital staff to follow it.  Assuming your provider has been working with the hospital, they should know which procedures the hospital will likely expect.  I was surprised at delivering in the hospital as I thought the staff would be prepared to offer me lots of suggestions about what to try to help manage my pain. They essentially had 2 suggestions- shower and epidural.  I would say do your best to educate yourself prior to labor. My hospital has a variety of birth aids available, but the staff didn't volunteer them I had to request them. Also, while no one in my hospital ever told me no about something, they were discouraging at time. The first time I asked to get in the labor tub the nurse said, I just don't think that's going to help.  That was frustrating, all she needed to say was- okay I'll go get it filling for you, which is what my nurse did for my next labor.  Of course, I'm sure it's been said- stay home as long as you feel comfortable.  I entered the hospital dilated to a 7 and I think that was key in my success of natural labor. 
  • Agreed that it depends on your hospital - I was able to labor freely without being strapped up. I did have an IV hep lock put into my hand (like PP) just incase anything came up they didn't ever have to use it. Towards the end they needed a monitor for the baby but that was minor and  only periodic. Agreed that the key is to labor at home as long as you are comfortable.

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  • My doctor allowed me to not even have an IV in place for my second and my hospital is not particularly natural birth friendly. I think I got really lucky with who was on call. They also just checked baby's hb about every 15-20 minutes. I also labored at home until I was dilated to a 6. Don't stay home too long though! I pushed 5 minutes with my first baby and 2 with my second! This time it was even with quite a long early labor (24 hours, then 4 active) so I was surprised to see the end go so quickly still. I spent 2 hours at the hospital before LO was born.
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  • Not a dumb question at all. Definitely talk with the hospital ahead of time (while on a tour or call) and talk to your OB. In some cases it depends on the OB delivering baby, other times the hospital. My experience was that I had to have the hep block put in but not be hooked up to anything. So I was ready if something happened and they needed to get an IV going, it was already started. This didn't bother me. My hospital also has wireless monitors so I was able to have those on and get in the tub and be up walking around. Check out the book, "Natural Birth for the Mainstream Mama." Not only is it a quick read, there is some good humor in it and it gives great insight on birthing naturally in the hospital and ways to be prepared.

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    lmc929
  • This is an old thread but I figured I would chime in.  I am due April 2017 and my hospital said I don't need to get an IV connector unless I want it or am planning on taking meds.  I know that you feel vulnerable in a hospital but they can't make you get any interventions you don't agree to.  Make your feelings clear...actually you have had this baby already so I guess this is good info for a new mom!
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  • momof2buggsmomof2buggs
    Seventh Anniversary 100 Love Its 100 Comments First Answer
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    edited January 2017
    The answer is no. You have the right to refuse any procedure, even though the hospital staff will try to pressure you. I've given birth 2 times in a hospital completely drug and intervention free, and I never wrote up any birth plan. I simply told them that I wouldn't be on monitors, no pitocin, etc, as soon as they approached me. I did allow them to listen to baby intermittently, and of course if either one of us would have been in danger at any point, I would have consented to life saving procedures. Our bodies are designed to labor and birth very efficiently, and it's amazing to let nature take its course. I remember one nurse getting really rude with me, and I told her to get out of my room, which she did. I don't have a problem speaking up for myself! :wink:

    Be prepared to stand up to almost everyone who provides care for you in the hospital.
    dar824la
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