Gentle Hands Doula

Pregnancy, Birth & Bonding - Choose a better birth!

Hospital Etiquette

One of the most intimidating things about childbirth can be communicating clearly with medical staff.  Some nurses or doctors are not as open to a natural birth as others.  Some think it is a great idea but not normally possible.  Rarely you'll find one that is openly hostile to the whole way you're planning to give birth.  This can add a lot of stress to an already intense situation.  The last thing you need is a medical staff person that is angry or frustrated with you.  There are simple things you can do to help diminish conflicts. 

  •  Be honest with your nurses and doctors - they can't fix a problem they don't know about. 
  • If someone seems combative or irritated it is best to assume they are having a bad day and that it doesn't have anything to do with you.  They may be there to help you, but they are people and some times their lives do get brought to work.  Try to be reasonable when you're talking with them.
  • It can't hurt to bring a basket of goodies or plate of cookies with you to leave at the nurses station. Add a quick note that says how much you appreciate their hard work and attention to your needs.  Food is always a hit for nurses that often do not get a meal or even a snack during a busy work day. 
  • Make sure you get all your nurses names and try to connect on a personal level.  Always be as positive as you can.  And thank them when they come in and when they leave so they know they are noticed and valued.
  • Instead of refusing out of hand when a suggestion comes along and you don't like it...try saying something like, "Thank you for that idea, I'll think about that."  Or, "Can you tell me more about that?  What other options do I have?"  
  • Respect the fact that these people have worked long and hard days to get to be a nurse or doctor and they have a system that works for them.  If you try to change it too much you may be seen as undermining or undervaluing their skills and knowledge.  Even if you don't agree there is no reason to belittle or demean.  Think of positive ways to request your ideals and be open to their suggestions. 
  • Assume they are completely supportive of your plan until they prove they are not.  
  • Be willing to respectfully stand your ground if you must.  But save your battles for the things that really matter.  If your desire is a totally intervention free birth with no mention of drugs or medical assistance, your best chances are at home or in a birth center.  If you must use a hospital for your birth but still desire that level of autonomy it is best to make this clear before labor starts.  Your birth plan can serve as one way to talk through your hopes for the birth.  Be willing to change care providers rather than going through a mid-labor-battle.
  • Make it clear that you're educated and well informed.  If you have a degree or some important personal achievement - tell them it.  I have seen this work very well for moms that are being treated like children or talked down to.
  • Don't sweat the small stuff.
  • Do NOT assume that a midwife or home birth will always go perfectly!  The flip side can happen too!  You can get too little input in some cases or too little support from your support team, choose all of them wisely!