No woman should have to give birth alone. However, sometimes life just deals us a bad hand and unfortunately, new parents are not exempt. If, for whatever reason, you need to plan for being alone during labor and delivery, or are currently giving birth without support, this post on “how to give birth alone in a hospital” is for you.
I hope that this post decreases your fear and anxiety. And I hope that your birth turns out better than you imagine, and to be honest, I’m sure it will. There’s no grace in our imaginations!
God shows up and provides for His children each day in little and big ways. Look for Him – He ALWAYS shows up.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8
How to Give Birth Alone in a Hospital
Before we explore the topic of how to give birth alone in a hospital, let’s first define what I mean by giving birth alone. Of course, nobody is actually alone in a hospital. Upon admittance, each woman is assigned a nurse, and a doctor or midwife that will be with her, typically intermittently, throughout the birthing process.
What I mean by giving birth alone in a hospital is that the support team that was planned or hoped for, just isn’t there. Maybe a doula isn’t there, a mother or mother-in-law is not by her side, or her sister or friend can’t come. This could even mean that her partner, for whatever reason, isn’t there either.
When support can’t come to the hospital because of illness, travel issues, visitor policies, or *ahem* a global pandemic, it’s important to know how to give birth alone. The following are my best ideas on how to give birth alone in a hospital. Let’s get started!
1. Tips for Before Labor
Take a Childbirth Class
First off, it’s important to take a high quality childbirth class. (If there are no good options locally, consider a LIVE online childbirth class.)
Many new parents believe that childbirth education isn’t necessary because our bodies were designed to give birth and therefore knows exactly what to do. It is true that our body intuitively knows how to have a baby, but there are additional skills and knowledge needed to successfully navigate having a baby in our birthing culture. It also helps to know what to expect, how to cope, and have a bag of tricks on hand.
My online childbirth classes are perfect for parents wanting to explore their options during pregnancy, and learn how to advocate for themselves throughout childbirth. Mother Rising’s birthing classes will prepare you to birth-in-awareness whether you are birthing at home, in a birth center, tipi, taxi, or hospital.
Buy The Birth Partner
The Birth Partner is a book all pregnant people should own. This book is required reading for most doulas-in-training, and is a wonderful resource for any person looking to have more of a hands on role during childbirth. The visuals are very helpful, giving parents lots of ideas of things to try for pain coping.
My favorite part? The Birth Partner is made to be easily navigated during childbirth so that when something unexpected comes up (which WILL happen, by the way) you or your partner can use this book as a timely resource to navigate the unknown.
Practice Comfort Measures
Try a Birthing Ball
A birthing ball is an exercise ball that helps ease pregnancy symptoms, but can also encourage a less painful, more straightforward birth. It’s a must-have for every pregnant woman hoping for an easier pregnancy, better birth, and happier postpartum. I’m not exaggerating!
One way parents can prepare to give birth alone in a hospital is to practice using a birthing ball in the ways one would use it in labor. The more a ball is used during pregnancy, the less a woman will need to think about how to use it in labor. This is helpful because the thinking brain is difficult to access when in labor!
Practice Birthing Positions
Good birthing positions can 1) encourage baby to rotate and 2) mom to dilate = therefore allowing for a less painful and shorter labor. When a woman instinctually changes birthing positions throughout labor, she will likely choose positions that encourage labor progress but that also decrease her pain.
When birthing positions are practiced during pregnancy, the less thought will need to go into different birthing positions in labor. Again, the less thinking the better!
Learn Breath Awareness
In my childbirth classes I teach a labor breathing technique called breath awarness. It’s extremely effective, women all over the world use it in labor, is easy to learn, and can carry a women through the bulk of her labor and delivery.
Not only is this labor breathing technique excellent for a natural birth, but it’s also amazing for a medicated or even a cesarean birth. No matter what type of birth you are planning, this simple and effective labor breathing technique is for you.
If you’re reading this article, odds are you’re experiencing a little bit (or a lot) of anxiety. Anxiety during pregnancy can manifest itself in many ways – headaches, fatigue, poor appetite/diet, lack of sleep, irritability, etc.
Anxiety can come from a lot of places, but if I had to guess, your anxiety probably stems from trying to control what cannot be controlled. (Ask me how I know! 😉 )
During pregnancy we should strive for peace in our minds, bodies, and souls so that we and our babies can experience health and wellness. Check out my tips for reducing anxiety during pregnancy. You’re bound to find at least one good idea that will make a huge impact on how you feel.
It is very normal, natural, and surprisingly even helpful to have fears about labor and delivery. The main benefit of fears, anxieties, and knowing what one would like to avoid during labor and delivery is that it can motivate parents to find resources and solutions for their particular issues.
However, fears, anxieties and knowing what one would like to avoid can also paralyze parents and keep them in a state of fear. It’s important to operate in love rather than fear. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18
Birth can be traumatic when how we expected, planned, and hoped our birth would go does not line up with what actually happened.
Expect the Unexpected
It is a safe bet for parents to expect the unexpected at any kind of birth, alone or with a room full of loved ones. It’s impossible to know how or what won’t go according to plan, but for things to not follow our plans to a T – that we can bet on.
This is quite challenging! Our whole lives we may have created goals, mapped out milestones to achieve said goals, and more often than not, achieved what we wanted!
Birth, on the other hand, refuses to be so linear. Sure, the lessons we learn through birth are about hard work and determination, but they’re also about surrender, how to know what to do when you don’t know what to do, and moving beyond our perceived limits. (Which are perfect lessons for new parents.)
Birth Plans Aren’t Contracts
I don’t enthusiastically encourage parents to create birth plans. One reason is because I dislike the negative responses from nurses and how they sometimes put my clients in a “one of those women” box.
Also, I am not a fan of how birth plans makes some moms feel like they can control their births. It’s important to understand that a birth plan is not a contract with your care provider (or the universe) to have the kind of hospital birth you desire.
You can greatly influence your birth, but in the end, you simply cannot control it.
When creating a birth plan, there is a temptation to feel more in control of the people in the birth room and how the birth will unfold. However, I encourage mothers to think of a birth plan more as a tool for parents to explore their options, and to communicate with care providers during pregnancy and birth, rather than a false sense of control over a particular outcome.
When the Unexpected Happens
Previously I mentioned that it is a sure thing for parents to experience some sort of the unexpected at every birth. But what should parents do when an unwished for event begins to unfold? How do parents reduce birth trauma in situations like this?
One thing parents can do in these challenging situations is to continue to be an integral part of the decision making process. If and when plans change, don’t give up, roll over, and check out. Stay involved. (SOURCE, SOURCE)
I once had a doula client that was expecting her first baby. She planned on laboring at home as long as possible, heading to the hospital when her contractions were close together, and having a natural, vaginal birth. However, when she got to the hospital her baby was having consistent heart decelerations. This was definitely not part of her plan.
Not knowing what else to do, she internally gave up and just accepted whatever came her way without asking questions or being involved in the decision making process. For her, that was one of her biggest regrets, and some of what contributed to her negative experiences at her first birth. Sure, there was more to it than that, but she confided in me that she wished she didn’t give up – but instead kept asking questions, and stayed involved in the decision making process.
2. Tips for During Labor
Now that we’ve discussed things to work on before labor, let’s switch gears. For those that are preparing for giving birth alone or reading this in labor, these tips are for you.
Choose Encouraging Words
If you will be relying on non-professional birth support (yourself, a husband, partner, family members, etc.) for in-person or virtual labor support, make sure they read the 10 things to never say to a woman in labor (and what to say instead). Our words are incredibly powerful, and birth is no exception.
Have you seen MantraBand bracelets? I love these things. The one on my arm right now says “ALL IS WELL”. This bracelet has helped to remind me that my fearful thoughts aren’t reality, but instead God is good, He’s in control, and can be trusted.
Check them out! (Use the code MOTHERRISING for 10% off. There’s free shipping on every order!)
Especially during the hard parts of birth, words of encouragement and reminders of reality are key to coping through each moment. Check out Mother Rising’s collection of 12 stunning printable birth affirmations that empower women throughout pregnancy and childbirth.
Give birth alone, without fear and with confidence no matter what happens!
Prioritize Rest and Relaxation
When preparing for labor, so much of the focus is on coping through the pain of each contraction that parents forget about the gift of breaks between contractions.
Contractions are not constant – they come and go. During contractions women feel many sensations such as pressure and pain, but between contractions much of this goes away. This is good news!
In early labor, women may have as many as 4-6 minutes between contractions (or more!). As things progress the break becomes less, but in active labor there’s still a whopping 2-4 minutes between contractions.
Labor at Home as Long as Possible
One of the best strategies to give birth alone in the hospital is to labor at home as long as possible or at minimum, don’t go to the hospital at the first signs of labor. When women labor at home, they may be able to reduce the time spent alone at a hospital.
But, how exactly does one labor at home as long as possible without having a “car baby”? How do you know when to go to the hospital? How far apart should contractions be before going to the hospital?
Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Read this article and you’ll have an excellent idea of how to show up at the hospital during or right before transition.
Plan for Transition
For those that would like an unmedicated childbirth, or those that are preparing for that possibility, it’s important to understand the part of labor called transition. The transition phase of labor is typically the shortest portion of labor, but also the most difficult. Contractions are long, strong, and close together.
Transition got its name because it is the part of labor where women transition from stage 1 to stage 2. Stage 2 is pushing. Transition happens right before you start pushing.
Having an unmedicated childbirth is totally possible. There are many ways to decrease the sensation of pain and cope well during a natural childbirth. You can do it!
However, many women receive epidurals during the transition phase of labor because they can’t cope and/or their birth team is unable to help them cope. Head on over here for some amazing ideas to help you through this intense portion of labor even if you’re alone.
Remember, you can do it!
You are Not Alone
Partner with Baby
Remember, even if your doula or partner can’t be with you during labor and delivery, you’re never really alone. First, your Heavenly Father is always with you. But second, your baby is with you, too.
Talk to your baby, encourage your baby, and breathe for your baby throughout the birth. Tell your baby you can’t wait to meet them. And remember, no matter what happens, you have each other.
Also, your care providers and hospital staff are there for you too. Maybe you just met, but they are there to help you and your baby have a safe and satisfying birth, and they’re giving you their best. Their best may be different than what you think their best should be, but nevertheless, they’re doing their best.
When navigating the medical model, it’s best to approach situations with the mindset that whoever you’re working with is doing the best they can do with what they have. This way, you’ll see them as they really are – people just like you and I. And trust me on this, when it comes to communicating with care providers, you’ll catch more flies with honey.
Taking this a step further, let’s consider the backbone of hospitals – nurses. Nurses are amazing human beings, with an extraordinary task, coupled with ridiculous constraints. They too, are doing their best.
You see, nurses have a desire to take care of their patients well, which is often compromised by a few things – their patient load, hospital policies, and the attending physician’s choices. Sometimes these things directly counter each other, leaving the nurse to make choices based more on if they want to keep their job or not.
Nevertheless, sometimes the nurse matched with you upon admission to labor and delivery isn’t the best fit. This happens! I bet she feels the disparity too. If this is the case, go to the nurse’s station and ask to speak to the charge nurse. Explain the goals of your birth and how “nurse Betty” doesn’t seem to be the best fit. Ask if there is a different nurse that would be better suited for whatever you’re trying to accomplish.
Access Virtual Support
Finally, because of technology and wifi everywhere, we now have the capability to bring virtual support with us to the delivery room. Ladies, this is your opportunity to hire a “virtual doula” and maybe even have your mom there too.
Contact your favorite doula (doesn’t have to be local!) and see if she offers virtual support. Times are changing!
3. Tips for After Birth
Pursue Deep Listening
After birth, when all is said and done, the hard work of moving through your birth story begins. No matter how things panned out or went down, expect the need to process what happened. And remember, even if your birth looked like every woman’s birth fantasy, there’s still a good possibility you’ll need to process certain parts of it.
As the days and weeks pass, bits and pieces of your ordeal will come up. Sometimes this happens when speaking with those that were (or should have been ) present, or maybe while breastfeeding in the middle of the night when everything is quiet and nobody else is around. This is pretty normal.
Listen to Yourself
When recalling the bits and pieces of your birth, one of the first things to notice is what you say to yourself about yourself. Pay attention to your I AM statements. If you notice that you’re having an emotional reaction to a memory of your birth, really make a conscious effort to notice these I AM statements.
An I AM statement is a belief you have about yourself that you say to yourself (internally), often times without any awareness of it happening. For example: I am patient, I am weak, I am doing my best, I am a failure, I did my best, I am a good mother, or I am loving my baby.
As you notice these beliefs, write them down. Listening, becoming aware, and then writing down what you notice will begin a practice of deep listening with yourself.
Now that you’ve created a list of these I AM statements, consider whether or not if these statements are working for you. Do these beliefs actually align with the truth? What is the truth about yourself?
At this point it may be helpful to share these beliefs with your support group or a safe person.
Share Your Story
Finally, a powerful way to process your birth is to share your story. To be listened to, really heard, and validated is incredibly healing.
TIP: When sharing your story tell it from your perspective. For example, instead of saying that the doctor was a jerk, try saying when the doctor said this and made this decision it made me feel _________ and I _________.
For some, this may be as simple as sharing your story with a close friend, or other safe person. But for others, it may be necessary to seek professional help. If this is the case, I highly recommend seeing a therapist that is EMDR certified. These wonderful people specialize in helping people work through trauma. EMDR helps the brain figure out what to do what what happened. I have personal experience with EMDR and am a big fan. 🙂
Birth trauma is no respecter of persons or birth plans. It doesn’t matter if you gave birth with a unicorn by your side, on a grassy knoll in a magical forest, and everyone keeps telling you how wonderful everything was. I mean, hey, maybe it turns out that unicorns are kinda creepy and not at all what you thought they would be. And maybe everything wasn’t so wonderful. And that’s ok.
But don’t let that be the end of your story. A traumatic birth has the opportunity to be a turning point in the life of a new parent. The hard parts of birth and life can change you for the better, and create depth of character that would not otherwise be there.
Giving birth requires courage. You have what it takes.
TIP: Explore Options Out of Hospital
For low risk women, a homebirth is a safe alternative to a hospital birth. If for whatever reason, giving birth in a hospital is unsafe, consider exploring out of hospital options in your area. It never hurts to know your options.