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Women's Health Blog

Have a Natural Birth in the Hospital


Whether this is your first baby or your third, you want to have a plan to make the delivery process a positive experience for everyone involved.

Women often want to have a natural birth. This may have different meanings to different women, but in this article we explore having a natural, vaginal birth without an epidural, in the hospital by adding labor techniques that ease pain and anxiety for the mother.


Is it Possible?

It is absolutely possible to have a natural birth in a hospital setting, says Kathleen Whittam, CD (DONA), LCCE, a doula who has worked with expecting mothers at Beebe Healthcare.

As a certified doula and Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, Kathleen found her passion for aiding mothers through the labor process after she had her first child.

“I felt like mothers deserved more. Here we are bringing a new life into this world and often we aren’t even asked what we want that experience to be like,” Kathleen said. “I am a member of DONA, an international certifying agency of doulas that provides training, continuing education and a strong code of ethics. I’m excited to bring my experience serving the women of southern Delaware.”

Often, mothers have an idea of what labor will be like. No longer do women depend on the labor stories of their mothers. They are actively researching different methods and ways to alleviate pain.

When planning for your birth, talk to your partner about your expectations and create a birth plan. This does not need to be a concrete plan. It can have variations and it can be just a loose guide of how you hope the birth will go. It is always important to understand the plan must stay flexible to allow for changes due to the health and welfare of the mother and infant.

Many mothers choose to have their babies in hospitals because that way medical professionals are available in case anything goes awry, Kathleen said.

“Most of the mothers I meet have done some level of research. You wouldn’t go on a trip without doing some planning, right?” Kathleen said. “I tell them: it is important to go to childbirth classes, whether it’s a free class at the hospital or a private class taught by a certified childbirth educator. Learn everything you can from the classes because they can often answer a lot of your questions. And get a tour of the maternity floor. All of this will help you prepare for the big day.”


Prepare for Labor

“There are many ways that women prepare for labor,” said Bridget Buckaloo, executive director of Women’s and Children’s Services at Beebe. “Prenatal yoga is a great way to exercise and build strength without over-exerting yourself during pregnancy. I always recommend that moms-to-be take the childbirth education class because it gives specific information about what to expect and provides a tour of the birthing unit – all for free.”

“Prenatal yoga coupled with a prepared childbirth class is a great way to prepare for the experience,” Buckaloo said. “The childbirth class prepares you for the hospital experience, while the yoga prepares your mind and body.”

Buckaloo said music can also be a powerful tool for moms – both during their pregnancy and when it is time to deliver the baby. In some cases, mothers-to-be listen to the same playlist throughout their pregnancy and by having it playing during delivery, it can really help calm them and help deliver the baby into a relaxed and loving atmosphere, she said.

When women want to avoid an epidural or pain medication, there are methods they can use. Lamaze and the Bradley method are two common childbirth practices. Education on these methods can be obtained through a childbirth educator or by doing research online. There are many YouTube videos that address labor and delivery topics.

Beebe also utilizes peanut balls, a soft oblong ball which when used during labor can help reduce pain and speed up delivery. Showers are also available so the mother can rest and find relief under warm water.

“Talk to your support person and make sure to include items that will make the hospital room feel like home,” Kathleen said. She suggests bringing lotion, snacks, music, pillows from home, and even essential oils for aromatherapy.

“My biggest recommendation for pregnant mothers is to wait to go to the hospital. Often, they end up at the hospital too early and this can be a strain on both the mom and family and the medical team,” Kathleen said. “Monitor your contractions and wait to head to the hospital if possible.”

While many women plan to have a natural, vaginal birth without an epidural, the course of labor can change very quickly. By planning ahead, doing research, and working with a support person or doula, you can have a great experience and a natural birth in the hospital!

“You are your biggest advocate. Second to you is your support person. Make sure everyone is on the same page long before you come to the hospital to have your baby,” Kathleen said. “Every birth is different and sometimes medical intervention is necessary, but I have seen many successful natural births in the hospital in my 15 years as a doula.”

Find out more about Women’s Health at Beebe. 

If you are interested in finding out more about having a baby at Beebe, talk to Carrie Snyder, Women’s Health Nurse Navigator by calling (844) 316-3330 or emailing [email protected]