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f you’re in the process of exploring your birth options or if you’ve already decided that natural hospital birth is for you, I hope the following interview with Bethany, a real mom of 2 babies born naturally in the hospital, will encourage you and answer some of your questions.

She’s sharing her best tips for how to prepare for a natural hospital birth, what she loved about natural hospital birth, and how the experience has changed her life.

This interview of a real mom of 2 babies born naturally in the hospital will encourage you and answer your questions. She's sharing her best tips for how to prepare for a natural hospital birth, what she loved about it, and how the experience changed her life.

Natural hospital birth is a topic near and dear to my heart. While home birth is the right choice for me and my family, the majority of women choose to give birth in the hospital, and they should be just as empowered to give birth naturally there as if they were in their own homes.

There are many reasons moms-to-be might choose to have a natural birth in a hospital. They may end up there due to state laws or insurance policies that make home birth difficult, because of lack of family support for home birth, pregnancy complications that make hospital birth necessary, or simply because of personal preference and comfort level.

Whatever the reason, at some point while planning a natural hospital birth, a pregnant mama may find herself asking, “Is a natural hospital birth even possible?” While natural unmedicated births are a rarity in hospitals, they ARE very possible, and there are many strategies you can employ to improve your chances of having a natural birth in the hospital.

(This post contains affiliate links to helpful resources for preparing for a natural hospital birth.)

Well, you all know I love a positive natural birth story, so let’s get onto our interview!

How to Prepare for a Natural Hospital Birth

Shannon: What did you enjoy about having a natural hospital birth? Were there any drawbacks?

Bethany: My husband and I chose hospital birth with doula support for both of my births for two reasons: One, I had found a wonderful team of OB/GYNs who worked with my older sister and many friends. They were known for respecting the mother’s wishes within reason, and the hospital they delivered at was the same one where my own mother had me naturally.

Two, my husband is an introverted hand-holder and observer, not a coach or cheerleader or doula. He managed to make it very clear {without scaring or forcing me} that he would feel more safe and comfortable and relaxed if I could birth in a hospital.

There were some major drawbacks leading up to, during and after both of my births. From the beginning, I felt “unique” whenever I talked about wanting a natural birth. I got the distinct impression that my OB was accustomed to women talking about and hoping to “go natural” but then failing to prepare.

I’d been preparing for birth my whole life {literally} reading every book my parents allowed since I was 6 years-old! However, knowing that the hospital had a low natural birth rate both bothered and motivated me more.

Two other drawbacks that still stand out to me 5 years after my last birth are the intrusions of monitors that repeatedly disrupted my focus, ruining my ability to fully relax, and thus lengthening my labor AND the hourly intrusion of nurses after the babies were born.

Three examples:

1. From the moment my daughter was born in 2005, I knew my daughter wanted to be on me and unwrapped, but the nurses kept objecting. “It’s not safe to sleep with her with you in the bed, and she needs to be bundled.” I ignored them and probably got a red demerit on my chart.

2. From the moment my son was born in 2008, I knew he wanted to be bundled and laid down in the bassinet to sleep. Imagine my surprise when the nurses kept unwrapping him and telling me to hold him more! He nursed like a champ and then slept for 4 hours the first night. Why mess with that?

3. With my first baby, I felt like the whole hospital was trying to give me a crash course in parenting before I checked out. The mound of paperwork and information on how to be a good modern mommy that they sent home with me must have axed a whole tree! They kept coming in to go over the information, have me sign things, be sure I knew how to change a diaper… and each time the shift changed, I could swear the next nurse would act like I was brainless all over again. Let a new mommy REST for cryin’ out loud!

Shannon: What tips do you have for how to prepare for a natural hospital birth?

Bethany: I hired a doula for my first birth, and I highly recommend that. For my second birth, I requested my favorite doula-trained nurse to be there and I had my best friend and sister (both seasoned birthers) at my side.

Also, for my first birth, I wrote up a 3-page, single-spaced birth plan that went over each stage of labor, options in case of emergency, and baby-care, and I made my OB sign it at my 32 weeks checkup, and I also took a copy to the hospital at registration and had the nurse on duty sign it and put it in my file.

With my second birth, I got it all into one page and made everyone sign it again. It included things like:

  • my choice in lighting and music and who was in the room
  • my free ability to move around without restriction in the clothing {or lack thereof} of my choice
  • my ultimate say in every decision, nothing done without my consent or husband’s
  • access to a shower and deep tub and the freedom to labor there
  • access to birth ball, squatting bar, and mirror as requested
  • no unnecessary medical interventions such as vit K and eye drops for the baby, no vaccinations (we postponed those and spread them out starting at 6 momths since I was healthy and would be a SAHM)

Shannon: If you had it to do over again, is there anything you would change?

Bethany: I would have stood my ground on that stupid belly monitor that slowed my contractions every time the nurse strapped it onto me, and I would have pushed aside my modesty just a bit further and flipped onto hands and knees like I really wanted to and like my body was demanding for me to do with my son …and that likely would have helped me avoid a 3rd degree tear with him.

I also wish I could have known then what I know now about diastasis recti and the pelvic floor. I was convinced I needed to squat deep, because that was the mantra back then, but my tight hamstrings make my booty tuck too much in a deep squat which closes my outlet and caused me an episiotomy with my first and a 1-year recovery with my second.

I wish I had known how to belly breathe like I teach women now how to activate their core while relaxing their pelvic floor, and how to wrap my own tummy so it healed faster. You can learn more about that on Fit2B :)

Shannon: How did giving birth naturally change and inspire other parts of your life?

Bethany: Nothing has ever left me feeling so powerful and ready to take on the world as giving birth. Nothing has ever left me feeling so crazy in love and torn apart as becoming a mother.

The sensation of a body turning to find her slithering, burning way out into my waiting arms is like none other. The roaring of a child out and scooping him up bloody to my chest as the cries and clapping around me dimmed in the glow of joy over wrinkled toes and clasping tiny fingers and scrunching eyes… I can’t imagine being dulled to all that.

The pain was everything and nothing, merely a meeting of myself at my strongest.

I do not believe in withholding medication when necessary. After all, how blessed are we to have it available to save lives and ease a grueling birth? But if my own births taught me anything, it’s that my strength is bigger than my fear.

Many women fear the pain of childbirth, because modern movies show screaming women helpless on their backs, and we no longer give birth in thin-walled communities where young girls see the whole process of blossoming, bearing down, bringing forth life in joy, and breastfeeding.

My daughter is 8 now, and just the other day she asked me if I will be with her when she gives birth one day. Y’all know how my heart did the happy dance then, but I knew that was my chance to speak some truth to her. “I’d love to be there for you, honey, but when you’re ready to get married and have babies, you need to know that you’re in charge of your birth. You will know where you need to give birth and who you need there to support you.”

And then she said something beautiful: “I want to have them in water, Mom. I’ll push them out and let them float and hold them, Mama, and let them look up at me….” I guess she’s been paying attention after all ;)

Bethany Learn is the CEO and founder of Fit2B Studio, an online workout site at fit2b.com with members worldwide that provides unlimited access to almost 100 wholesome workouts for the whole family. Her family-friendly focus keeps things modest, safe and fun for all ages. She is passionate about standing in the gap for those who have been led to believe that they will always look pregnant or will always leak when exercising. Bethany is happiest when she is proving to people that they don’t have to injure themselves to get into the best shape of their lives, or when she’s just talking about birth and fitness. Bethany lives in the Pacific Northwest on 7 acres with her husband, two children, 4 goats, 12 chickens, 2 cats, a chihuahua, and a horse.

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