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Book Review: Natural Hospital Birth

PhotobucketThis book was recommended to me by a member of my Moms Group. When I heard the title I knew I had to read it, as I am planning a natural hospital birth myself.

I was a little afraid the book would make me start to feel really combative about how we would have to deal with the hospital in order to get our natural birth. Over the last few weeks, I have identified that my biggest fear about birth isn’t that I can’t do it, it’s that hospital staff will somehow mess it up for me by not following my wishes.

Much to my surprise, though, this book doesn’t encourage confrontation with staff. Ms. Gabriel emphasizes a calm but firm approach, one that allows the staff to see your confidence in and commitment to natural birth.

One of her biggest strategies for avoiding interventions is using the phrase, “I think we’ll wait an hour.” It isn’t rejecting the staff’s ideas or being combative, rather it’s a keen delay mechanism that often allows time for whatever they feel needs resolution to resolve itself. For example, if the staff is pushing Pitocin because of an inactive labor, one hour could be all you need to really get in the groove of things. And if one hour doesn’t work, ask for another. Staff may try to guilt-trip you into seeing things their way, but hold your ground and they’ll see your commitment to natural birth.

One of the great things about this book is the assistance in writing one’s birth plan. I had no idea that birth plans can be controversial: apparently some practitioners discourage them because they don’t want their patients to get “too attached” to a specific plan. Ms. Gabriel is a big advocate of plans, though, as long as you understand that plans change and you keep your “hospital version” short and sweet.

Ms. Gabriel recommends three versions of your plan: a dream version, a realistic version and a hospital version. The hospital version should basically say, “I want the most natural birth possible.” I’ve been inspired to finally start to writing down elements of my ideal plan and get working with Mr. Handsome, too, to make sure we’re on the same page.

Plus, I’m asking Mr. Handsome to read this book, too. It’s great that I have all the information about obtaining a natural birth in a hospital, but there’s only so much I’ll be able to do during “the throws” of labor. Mr. Handsome is my advocate so he not only needs to live and breathe our birth plan as much as me (maybe even more so!) but he needs to know the strategies presented in this book in order to get what we want out of this birth. Poor guy, his prescribed reading list is getting longer and longer!

I’m not as nervous about the hospital staff failing me after reading this book. I think there are things we need to do to prepare ourselves for trying to achieve a natural birth in a hospital setting. I have confidence in myself and in Mr. Handsome that we can convey our commitment to natural birth and have things the way we want them. I know circumstances can change and some things are just out of our control, but I feel like we will have a handle on ensuring that we have the most natural (and enjoyable!) birth possible.

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