Hey there mama-to-be! So, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed with all the information (or lack thereof) about giving birth. But don't worry, I’ve got you! 

Here are some things you can do to help you have a positive hospital birth experience.

(And hey, if these pique your interest, bring these up to your doctor at the next appointment!) 

Epidurals are not the only form of pain relief available during labor.

Epidurals are a common form of pain relief during labor, but they are not the only option available. Other forms of pain relief include nitrous oxide, iv pain medication, sterile water injections and natural methods such as hypnobirthing, acupuncture and massage. These options can provide a more natural and less invasive form of pain relief.

Question for your doctor: What other pain relief methods are offered where I'm birthing? Is nitrous oxide available?

Mom laboring with epidural. Hospital birth with belly out and monitors on.

You can bring your own music or sounds to the delivery room.

Music can have a powerful impact on our emotions, and it can help create a calm and soothing environment for you during labor. You can bring your own playlist, a sound machine, or even your own voice to help you relax and focus during labor.

Birth pools (or shower) can help you feel more comfortable and relaxed during labor.

Warm water can help ease the pain and discomfort of contractions, and it also allows you to move around more easily, which can help the baby move down the birth canal. Birth pools can also provide a sense of privacy and intimacy during labor.

Question for your doctor: Will I have access to a birth pool or shower during my labor?

You don't have to labor in bed.

There are various positions you can labor in. Some people might find they like laboring standing up, or on a birth ball. Others might find hands and knees or side lying more comfortable. Experiment with different positions to find what feels most comfortable for you.

You don't have to push on your back.

Just like when you're laboring, you don't have to be limited to birthing on your back. Squatting, hands and knees, or even just standing are some other options.

Movement is a great tool in labor.

Standing and swaying with your partner (the labor dance), bouncing on a birth ball, walking around or even just changing positions can help facilitate labor and enhance comfort.

Question for your doctor: Will I have access to wireless or intermittent fetal monitoring so I can move freely while laboring?

You can eat and drink during labor.

Although you might not want to, having a light snack can help keep your energy levels up and staying hydrated is a must.

Question for your doctor: Under what circumstances will I not be allowed to eat or drink in labor?

You can change positions even with an epidural.

With the help of your birth team, you can usually change positions even after you have an epidural, which also means that having an epidural doesn't necessarily mean pushing on your back either. Use of something called a peanut ball can help encourage dilation even while you're resting with an epidural.

Epidurals don't always work.

A little over 10% of epidurals fail for numerous reasons. Or sometimes your baby just comes too quickly before the medication can kick in.

The power of the mind - visualization and other relaxation techniques can help during labor.

Visualization and relaxation techniques such as hypnobirthing, yoga, and meditation can help you stay calm and focused during labor. It can also help to lower stress hormones and increase endorphins, which can make labor more manageable. Birth affirmations can be another great tool to encourage a positive headspace during labor. Find a few affirmations that resonate with you and bring them into your birth space. Looking at these can be a great reminder to yourself while in the throws of labor.

So, there you have it, mama. You're armed with some new information that will hopefully help you feel more confident and excited about your birth! 

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