Welcome to the final instalment of my Preparing Your Birth Space series! This time, we are talking about preparing your hospital room for birth. Today you will learn some helpful tips to make your hospital room a warm and inviting space to have a positive birth experience.
Bring Your “Creature Comforts”
The uniformity of a hospital space can leave it feeling a bit cold. Bring some of your favourite things that will remind you of home. Your favourite blanket or pillow will relax you and help you feel safe and protected, which will help your labour progress. The smell of your home on these items will help remind you of being snuggled up in a familiar place.
Dim lights, soft voices
As I mentioned in my last blog, Oxytocin is a notoriously shy hormone. It’s the hormone that tells your uterus to contract in labour, so it is crucial, but it produces best when you are in an environment that is dark and quiet. As soon as you get to the hospital, dim the lights in your room. Your care providers may request them be turned up at certain times, but remember to turn them back down after. You can talk to your birth team beforehand about speaking in soft, soothing voices. When you get to the hospital, put a sign on the door requesting that anyone that enters uses soft tones as well. Here’s an example (feel free to print this one off if you don’t want to make your own):
Media That Works
Bring things that are going to be fun, welcome distractions. These distractions will help you feel more calm in between contractions. Create two playlists: one with calm music and one with music to pump you up. Play the calm one during most of labour and start playing the exciting one at transition. Bring some movies that you love (I recommend movies that are funny or heartwarming as opposed to action packed or really sad, but really anything that makes you happy). But the most important thing to bring is something to play these on that will work in your space. Many hospitals in Toronto do not have WiFi and when they do, it can be pretty slow. Make sure that you can play your playlists and movies without the use of the internet. Whether you are downloading directly onto your device or going old school and bringing a CD player or portable DVD player, test everything beforehand and assign a member of your birth team (like your doula!) to be in charge of setting it up.
Preparing Your C-Section Space
You can create a peaceful environment for your c-section, too! Because there will be different policies for the Operating Room, if you are planning your c-section, talk to your care providers beforehand to find out what you can do to create your ideal space. You can have your support person bring in your favourite music. As I mentioned before, you can have your support wear a meaningful birth affirmation as a t-shirt or temporary tattoo. Read about family centred c-sections, and if it appeals to you, ask that you have a clear drape or have the draped be lowered so you can see your baby be born. Another function of Oxytocin (the hormone that tells a uterus to contract) is to facilitate bonding. Maximize oxytocin production during your c-section by encouraging soft voices and being skin to skin with your baby as soon as possible. Having a SleepBelt nearby will help you with this!
Make It Yours
For optimal oxytocin production, you need to feel comfortable and free to move how you want and make noises that feel natural and just trust your instincts. Feeling like you’re a visitor in someone else’s space makes it harder to do that. To make it easier to loose your inhibitions, create a space that feels like yours. Bring in your favourite flowers in a vase. I’ve worked with birthing people who brought their favourite tapestries and hung them around the room. I was once in a birth space that had a beautiful quilt draped over the bathroom door. The birthing person wanted to see it, but didn’t want to use it, so we placed it over the door where it was given a prominence in the room. Instantly, the room seemed cozier and warmer! Another personal touch to bring is pictures of your family. If you have older children, ask them to draw you a picture. Make the space yours, because for the time that you are there, it is not only a hospital, it is (above all else) your birth space.
I hope you enjoyed this three part series about preparing your birth space! Your doula can help you create a birth space that is right for you. Looking to add a doula to your birth team? Contact me to learn more about my doula services.