Deciding on where to birth is an important decision but whether it happens at a hospital, birth center or your home, you can still do many things to create the perfect environment perfect for you.
In creating the best birthing environment you should keep these concepts in mind:
These concepts are key in creating the perfect atmosphere to help promote a secure and relaxing environment which in turn will help increase oxytocin and decrease adrenaline.
Feeling safe during childbirth starts with the location. For some birthing people, this is a hospital, others a birthing center and there is also the option of your own home. There is no right or wrong in choosing a location, its about choosing what is right and best for you. But location of the birth isn't the only way to create a safe enviorment, there are other factors as well. An important part of creating a secure space is surrounding yourself with the people who will make you feel safe and relaxed. This can include your partner/coach, a trusted Doula and care provider, a close family member such as a mother or sister, or a best friend. While surrounding yourself with these important people can help you feel safe and secure it is also a balancing act because too many people at once could start to make the room more chaotic. Family and friends could take shifts in supporting you, that way they are well rested and ready to step in when needed. Also don't feel obligated to allow every relative and friend be there during the labor process. A Doula can be the best buffer, they don't have to please everyone else or have a relationship with them after so if need be, they can be the bad guy and ask people to leave if you need them to.
A dark room can be very beneficial to a laboring woman. This can be done by closing curtains or blinds, adjusting the lights and by using candles. I always carry flameless candles with me in my Doula bag to help create a peaceful atmosphere. Creating this kind of space will also set a relaxing mood for others to enter. When staff, or support team enters a dark room, they will naturally lower their voice and enter the birthing space in a more relaxed comforting tone.
Another important aspect to keep in mind is a quiet space. This doesn't have to mean silence and if you have already set up a dark warm space, this should come naturally for everyone in the room. Practice your affirmations with your partner in a soft supporting tone. Keep phones turned off or on silent. Keeping the environment quiet also doesn't mean you should be silent. Many women use vocalization and moaning to help with the pain during contractions. Having a peaceful space can allow you to focus better during the contractions.
Privacy during labor doesn't mean you have to birth alone, it is about creating a space that allows you to feel relaxed and secure enough to do what you need to do. As labor progresses, you will be trying different techniques to comfort yourself which may include the shower or bath, massage, and vocalization, and you want a space that will allow you to feel secure enough to do these things. Another thing to keep in mind is your phone and social media. Going into labor can be exciting but telling people at the start of labor can mean many messages, texts and calls. These interruptions can be distracting and make you feel watched and pressured to progress, which will likely cause labor to stall. Its important to discus with your partner and anyone planning to join you during labor how and when you want to inform the world about the birth of your little one.
Some other really great ways to create the environment perfect for you is to incorporate sound and smell. You can play music or sounds such as the ocean. Keep in mind that as labor progresses, the music or sounds that helped early on may be distracting latter. There are also guided meditations and visualizations that you might find helpful. These are things you will want to discuss with your partner and Doula in order to figure out and even practice during pregnancy. Smell is such an amazing sense and can bring you back to a memory, place, or person that makes you feel safe, happy and at peace. You can use essential oils by diffusing them while at home. At the hospital, you can place a drop or two on a cotton ball and place it in a cup near you. Just remember that during labor, your senses will be heightened so be cautious on overly potent scents and the amount being used. One suggestion I give is to practice relaxation techniques and meditation during pregnancy. When you do, use the sounds and scents you plan on using during labor to help bring you back to the same relaxed mind set as you had during practice when you are actually giving birth.
No matter where or who you choose to allow in your birthing space, creating the right environment will help give you the experience you deserve.