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A better back up plan

If you absolutely want to be accompanied when you give birth, and don’t like surprises you need a good back-up plan.  Calling an ambulance is NOT a good back-up plan.

If you absolutely want to be in a hospital to give birth you should stay near that hospital, ideally within walking distance, for at least the last month of your pregnancy. Once you start real labor you won’t want to drive and even riding in a car can be very unpleasant and sometimes interferes with labor.  Usually there are enough pre-labor signs or labor starts slowly, and you have plenty of time to go to the hospital, but if you want to be absolutely sure you should find a hotel or a friend’s house within walking distance of the hospital and go there when you think  labor might start.

If you plan a hospital birth, find out whether your hospital will assign you a random doctor or midwife when you come in to give birth or if your doctor or midwife will come in even if they are not scheduled.  Sometimes  a hospital midwife or doctor will give you a way of contacting them when you go into labor.  Do not walk into your hospital’s emergency room when in labor.

If you prefer a hospital birth but are open to giving birth elsewhere if that is what presents itself, and want someone to accompany you, you need someone who is completely reliable and who can be with you at any hour of day.   The first time I gave birth I was lucky to have a wonderful friend who had just retired from nursing and lived with us for the entire last month of my pregnancy.  That was ideal.

Next, you need someone to back up your backup.  If the person you are relying on is not experienced with birth you need a list of people to call who can come to your house in an emergency.  Even if they can’t make it in time, they may be able to talk you and your birth partner through the birth.  An experienced, calm person on the phone is much more useful than a panicked person at your side.

When I gave birth to Miriam our cell coverage was spotty and our land lines were temporarily out of service.  There is a backup plan that works best in this situation:  just stay calm and give birth.  Your ancestors did it this way for many thousands of years, and, generally it worked out very well.  There is a common belief that giving birth has always been dangerous for women, yet there is no archaeological evidence that healthy, safe women had problems giving birth.  There is plenty of biological evidence that birth is a straightforward, healthy activity for every other mammal.  How else would mammalian species survive?

To prepare for the possibility of an unaccompanied birth look at Laura Shanley’s site.   Search for inspiring videos on youtube–but have a friend screen them first.  You don’t want horrible images floating in your head.

One really lovely video is this one: