Whilst not everyone feels comfortable giving birth at home, that doesn't mean you can't make your hospital birth feel more 'homely'. Whilst there's nothing quite like home to get that juicy oxytocin flowing, there are plenty of things you can do and bring to make your hospital experience feel more comfortable.
In case you need more convincing, there are many benefits to creating a calm, low stress environment. These include:
1. Create the mood lighting
Nothing screams hospital more than bright, intrusive lights. Simply dim them or turn them off all together. Most hospitals have dimmer lights or a small light. You can also bring along battery operated candles which will create a beautiful ambience. Alternatively, a string of fairy lights (battery operated) or a Salt lamp will do the trick.
An added benefit of creating a dark room is that it will help your labour to progress. The delicate hormones of labour love the dark. Melatonin (sleep hormone) and oxytocin secretion is optimal in a dark environment.
2. Familiar smells
Smell is the sense closest linked to memory. I personally hate the smell of hospital, automatically instils me with memories of being ill or visiting ill relatives. Not to mention, smell is extremely heightened during labour.
Some hospitals provide aromatherapy diffusers in their labour rooms. These are a great way to create a beautiful smelling environment. So bring along your favourite essential oils (some suggestions include lavender, geranium, clary sage, peppermint, citrus fruits). If your hospital doesn't supply a diffuser and you don't have access to one, a great alternative is to pop some essential oils on a tissue or cotton pad and attach it to your shirt (if you're wearing clothes that is). You can also create a beautiful face mist with your favourite smells, and have your support person spray around you.
Alternatively, bring your own clothes/night gown and wear it during labour. Despite being subtle, you will feel "at home" wearing your own clothes that smell like your laundry powder/perfume.
3. Make a visual oasis
It may be hard to get into the zone looking at all the hospital equipment. Instead, feel free to bring some things from home that are beautiful to look at. These could be photos of a family holiday that you just adore, photos of your other children, a poster of a scenic landscape. The list is endless. Some more suggestions include:
4. Make it sound like home
Music is such a powerful medium. It can be fantastic for creating a relaxing environment, but it can also help to distract you from the pain of labour. I highly suggest you pick some music that you love to listen to. Alternatively, a hypnobirthing CD or a guided meditation audio. Here are some great FREE pregnancy, birth, and motherhood affirmations and meditations for relaxation.
Some women want silence, and that's ok too! To create a silent environment, consider printing a sign for the door that asks for staff to help keep a quiet environment. Make sure your partner is aware you don't want him chatting away too.
What about the noisy monitoring machine? If for whatever reason you are being monitored using continuous fetal monitoring, you'll be aware of the noises the machine makes. It can be quite off-putting and even stressful hearing the beeps and alarms. You don't *have* to be on the machine. You can actually ask for the machine's volume to be turned down or off. The staff will still be able to monitor you and the baby without needing to hear it.
5. Make it comfortable like home
Home makes me think of cosy blankets, my pillow and wearing comfortable daggy clothes. There's no reason you can't bring your own pillow from home, and even your favourite blanket. You may desire to be wrapped up in your blanket during the throws of labour (be aware, you may get body fluids over your items). Your own pillow will make sleeping in the maternity ward just that little bit easier.
There is no reason you have to wear a daggy old hospital gown. You can absolutely wear whatever you like. Some women (myself included) don't want to be constrained by clothing and prefer to labour naked. Others feel uncomfortable in the nude so prefer to wear clothes. An oversized shirt of your husbands/partner is perfect (his smell will definitely boost oxytocin), your nighty-gown or a bikini is perfect if you're labouring in the tub or shower.
6. Eat and drink as if you were at home
Eat if you're hungry, drink if you're thirsty. There's no reason you should be denied food or water during labour.
Be mindful of what you choose to bring to hospital to eat. Bring something nutritious and full of energy. A little chocolate won't go astray, great for giving you some well needed extra energy. It isn't uncommon for women to throw up during transition phase, so just remember that whatever you eat may make a reappearance.
Honey sticks, sour lollies, lolly pops and mints are a nice little pick-me-up also.
It's important to keep your hydration up. Ice, water, coconut water, herbal tea, homemade labour aid or even sports drinks are all good choices.
Ensure you pack some food and water for your birth partner also, it's important they are feeling good too so they can support you best they can.
Hopefully these suggestions have been helpful.
If you have any more recommendations, feel free to let me know and I will add them in.
Positive birth vibes,