Empowered Hospital Birth Series Part II: Creating a Comfy Laboring Space
If you want to imagine what an ideal laboring space can be, close your eyes and think back to the comfiest, coziest and safest moment of your life. Were you alone or with family and friends? Where were you? Maybe you were in your childhood home or in your apartment with your husband just a few months ago. Were you outside at peace in the crisp fall air? Part of preparing for labor is imagining the space that you will feel the safest and most comfortable to bring your baby into the world. Most people choose to have their baby in the hospital because it makes them feel safe to be in a place that can handle medical emergencies. I think its pretty safe to say that while a hospital provides a safe place to have your baby, its not necessarily the coziest place. There are some steps that you can take to make your laboring space in the hospital a little more like home.
Creating a comfy laboring space:
Lower the lights. Bright florescent lights are certainly not what I'd add to my list of relaxing things. Labor and Delivery rooms have the capability of being very, very bright so if you leave all the lights on and hang out in there for hours its probably going to be pretty taxing. Most rooms have a few sources of light that can be adjusted to get the room just right. Its probably possible to turn all lights off and just leave the window open, or maybe turn the bathroom light on and crack the door. How brightly light you want to room is likely to change throughout the course of your labor.
Bring your own pillowcase. Sometimes it is nice to have linens from home to help you feel relaxed and cozy. Feel free to bring blankets and pillowcases to help break up all of the white linens at the hospital. They also tend to be a bit stiff so a soft, bright pillowcase might just do the trick. Keep in mind that you must be ok with getting whatever you bring dirty.
Listen to music. Some women like to have music playing aloud in the room and others like to have headphones that help them focus inward on the work that their body is doing. Either way, loading some music on your phone, making a CD or bringing an Ipod can help distract from the fact that you're in a hospital room.
Flip on some LED candles. For obvious reasons, open flames are not allowed in hospitals. It is very easy to set up small LED tea lights throughout the room and its amazing how quickly it changes the energy of the space. They aren't very expensive and generally last the whole labor. I always carry some in my doula bag.
Don't be afraid to snuggle up. One of the most instrumental hormones in birth is oxytocin. Increasing oxytocin is a good way to help manage contractions in labor and the best way to increase oxytocin is upping the romance with your partner. Snuggle up, take a shower together or take a walk down the hallway alone to up the feelings of closeness.
Request privacy. Its much more difficult to feel relaxed and peaceful when hospital staff is walking in and out of the room. Have a polite conversation with the nursing staff if you would like to be left alone. Most nurses are happy to comply if they know you have a good support team and its helping you progress with labor.
Have a support team. Having someone with you who knows how to arrange the room can make all of the difference in the world. Chances are you might not realize that the bright lights are the reason you're uncomfortable or unable to relax. A doula can be a great person for this. They are generally pretty good at reading a laboring Mama and know what to offer.
Take some time to think about a few things you might want to have to make your labor more comfortable. If you are going to be thinking about getting a blanket dirty while its in the room then maybe its best not to bring it. What you bring is a personal choice and varies from woman to woman. Bring what you think would be most helpful to make the room comfy and cozy.
Did you labor in a hospital? Did you make the space your own or did you use the hospital room as is? Let me know what you think in the comments. Happy laboring!