From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I dreamt of having an all natural, drug free birth. I had visions of a calm and serene room where I felt safe and comfortable and would be able to use my HypnoBirthing training to give birth in a calm and beautiful way. I had my birth plan all mapped out, and my good friend who is a doula, was all lined up to be there with me at the birth. I was looking forward to the day with excitement and joy.
Although I knew I wanted a natural, drug free birth with as little (or no) medical intervention as possible, I also knew that I would be giving birth in a hospital. Early on in my pregnancy I was diagnosed with placenta previa, meaning that my placenta was fully covering the opening of my cervix. My doctor informed me that it would most likely resolve itself as my belly grew and my placenta moved up and away from my cervix, but to be sure, I was given a few minor restrictions throughout my pregnancy and the placement of my placenta was checked regularly. Luckily, by 38 weeks my placenta previa had indeed resolved itself and I was cleared to have a vaginal birth. My placenta was no longer covering my cervix but it was still a bit low, so to be safe and avoid any unforeseen complications, I felt safer giving birth in a hospital.
Regardless, I still wanted to have a comfortable, relaxed, and home-like feeling to my surroundings. I planned to labor in the comfort of my childhood home (where my parents still live) in their beautiful claw-foot bathtub for as long as I could until my doula advised me it was time to head to the hospital. However, as I neared 42 weeks of pregnancy and was showing absolutely no signs of impending labor, I was told I would need to be induced. There went my dream of spending my early labor in the claw-foot tub!
As I arrived at the hospital, my husband and my doula helped me transform my hospital room into a birthing sanctuary. There was no harsh lighting, just the soft flickering glow from the candles. The room was lightly filled with the relaxing scent of lavender (one of my absolute favorite smells), and I was surrounded by my own soft, plushy pillows off of my bed at home. We were truly able to transform my hospital room into a comfortable, relaxing sanctuary. Aside from the monitors (which we kept turned off when they were not in use) it really didn't feel much like a hospital room at all. Even my nurses and midwives kept coming in just to hang out because the room was so relaxing and zen. After my son was born I even remember looking around and saying, "When did we move rooms?" While I was busy pushing, the room had been transformed back into a hospital room as most of my things had been moved out of the way to make more room.
Here are some of the ways you can achieve tranquility in a hospital setting. (Be sure to have your comfort items packed and ready. Keeping them in the trunk of your car or right next to the front door is always a good idea.)
Transforming Your Hospital Room Into A Birthing Sanctuary:
Sight ~ Setting up flameless candles around the room, turning off the lights and drawing the shades helps to create a calm, serene ambiance. Bringing photos from home perhaps of other children, pets, or loved ones and placing them around the room can also bring comfort.
Smell ~ An essential oil diffuser and a few essential oils that you like is a great way to make your room smell nice and mask any hospital smells. Plus you also get the added benefits that the oils offer such as calming, stress relief, balance, endurance, and relief from nausea.
Sound ~ Make a birthing playlist ahead of time with relaxing and calming sounds and songs, and bring along some portable speakers. The music will add to the serene and relaxing atmosphere while also helping to block out the (sometimes loud and unpleasant) noises of a hospital.
Feel ~ Hospital beds tend to not be very plush and the pillows are generally thin, stiff and scratchy. Bringing your own pillows and a blanket or two from home can make a huge difference in your comfort level both during and after labor. Your own pillows and blankets will carry the smell of your home with them as well. I also recommend wearing your own clothes in lieu of a hospital gown and bringing a robe to wear after labor.
Taste ~ Not all hospitals allow women in labor to eat or drink anything other than sucking on ice chips, but in my experience and through my childbirth education training, I have learned that it is important for laboring women to keep their strength up by eating small snacks and staying hydrated. Packing light snacks that have some protein such as nuts, string cheese, crackers, protein bars, and fruit are good options. Bring along some hydrating drinks like coconut water or water with fresh squeezed lemon juice and a pinch of Himalayan sea salt to help keep your electrolytes up.
Comfort Item Checklist:
essential oil diffuser
pillows from home
blankets from home
your own clothes, slippers, and socks
music playlist and portable speakers
No matter where you plan to give birth, or if you birth goes according to your plan or not, birth is a beautiful, magical, empowering, and amazing experience with the greatest result - your child! As life would have it, my son's birth did not go quite as I had planned. But it is our story, and it happened just as it was meant to. He was born happy and healthy, and we are madly in love. I wouldn't change a thing.
Do you have any suggestions on how to transform your hospital room into a birthing sanctuary? Share in the comments below!