Hospital Policy vs. Parents’ Preference.

I often hear women saying phrases like “My doctor won’t allow me to have a VBAC.” and “I wasn’t allowed to change positions in labor.”. This really bothers me for several reasons, so I wanted to talk about how to bring up your own preferences during labor and birth, and how to handle seemingly immovable hospital or birth center policies.

Start by talking to your doctor or midwife in advance. Let them know what you’re thinking about for your labor and birth. Mention thing like changing positions, not wanting constant monitoring or delayed cord clamping. See what their responses are to these inquiries. A lot of doctors are coming around to new to them ideas regarding birth!

Having these options in a birth plan that is written out and reviewed by your doctor is especially helpful in case your doctor isn’t the one helping you during your birth. Going over it with your midwife will make sure you’re both on the same page as well.

When the big day comes, and you are ready to head to the hospital or birth center, make sure you bring your birth plan along. The nurse will ask you several questions upon admission that might be on your birth plan, but this is also a good time to bring up any special concerns.

This will likely be when you’ll first hear the phrase “hospital policy.” If this policy goes against one of your birth preferences, you have a few options available to you.

Ask to see the policy in writing. Sometimes, the policy that is being quoted is not actually written down anywhere, it’s just something that has always been done that way. By asking to see it in writing, you’re making sure that it truly is something the hospital disallows, or you can show the doctor and nurses that it is not a written policy and is therefore more flexible.

Do not give consent. You can withdraw consent for medical procedures at any time. You are the person in control of your own body, and while everyone should be working for the safest, healthiest outcome for both you and baby, sometimes you need to put your foot down and stand up for yourself.

Research. Research. Research. Ask your partner to check things out on their phone. Pick your doula’s brain for ideas on how to achieve the desired outcomes despite (or sometimes in spite) of hospital or birth center policy. Make sure you can back up your wishes with solid evidence. Finding out about policies before you go into labor can help with this, as it gives you more time to find out what can be done about these policies.

Be Flexible. In the end, remember that birth can be very unpredictable. While you may go in wanting everything one specific way, you may end up with another outcome all together. It’s important to remember that no one is there to intentionally cause harm or create problems. While it can royally suck to not be able to have all of your wishes honored, it is sometimes best to be as flexible as possible with your wishes when it comes to birth. (more on this one in a few days!)

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