Creating a Calm Birth Environment in a Hospital
If a labouring woman is placed into an environment in which she doesn’t feel relaxed, calm and safe, it can have a huge impact on her body and her progress of labour. Her contractions (which we refer to as surges) may become irregular, slow or even stop which may begin ‘the cascade of intervention’. Most hospital birthing suites are a large, bright open room, with the bed in the centre, and medical equipment scattered around the room.
We talk about ways in which we can create the perfect birth space in the Hypnobirthing Australia program. Here are a few simple things that can be done to make these rooms your optimum birth space. If possible, discuss these options with your birth partner so he/she can request the room to be set up as best possible prior to your arrival.
The Neocortex of the brain needs as little stimulation as possible for women in labour to activate their natural instincts and remain in a calm, peaceful and relaxed mindset. One of the first and simplest ways to achieve this is to dim the room, close any blinds/doors and turn down or off any bright lights. Most birthing suites will have some dim lighting provided, or if you plan ahead, add some battery operated tea lights or fairy lights to your birth bag (pro tip: ensure they are warm light, not blue light).
Music can be a great way to drown out any unwanted noises. Hospitals can be noisy places, so by using music we can reduce the impact that loud voices from the ward or other birthing rooms can potentially have on our peaceful atmosphere. As you surrender to your natural instincts you may want to become vocal yourself, having music playing in the background or in headphones can make you more comfortable to do so.
Have a playlist set up and ready to go with songs you enjoy or help you relax. Look at your physical environment and ask the maternity staff if you can remove or cover any unnecessary medical equipment such as IV pumps, continuous fetal monitoring machines, the clock and even move the bed out of the centre focus to the side. A hospital setting can be a busy setting, and staff may need to be reminded that you would prefer minimal staff and interruptions while in labour.
Discuss this with your midwife, and a simple sign on the door asking staff to respect your privacy could be a good idea.
To make you more comfortable, consider bringing in special items in with you from home which hold meaning, give strength or help you relax. Items such as:
- affirmations placed around the room in different focus points
- hypnobirthing scripts (that you receive with your Hypnobirthing Australia course materials)
- essential oils
- pictures of loved ones/children
- Your own pillow/blanket/linen
- eye mask, especially if lights can’t be dimmed
- any other personal objects you believe will assist you
Each birthing experience should be an individualised experience, and a quiet, calming, relaxing, private birth space can be created within any hospital setting. These simple adjustments can make the world of difference, and create a positive birth environment. What a beautiful way for your baby to be welcomed into the world.
This blog is written by Alana Matson who is both a Midwife and a Hypnobirthing Australia Practitioner in Perth Oakford WA. CLICK HERE for more details.
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