The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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If you can get your nurse or provider working with you, they may start to take ownership of your ideas. Try asking for their help to brainstorm a problem.
For example, a dad or other support person might say to the nurse between contractions, “We really want the baby to stay skin-to-skin after birth. Can you help us think about how that might work? Can some of the routine things be done while the baby is on her chest? What if we waited to weigh and measure him?”
Or maybe continuous electronic monitoring is required because of a medical complication, and you’ve been asked to stay lying down in bed.
Ask your nurse or provider to help you think through other options, such as laboring with continuous monitoring on the birth ball, on hands and knees or sitting upright. If they respond with reasons why something won’t work, you can always throw out a phrase like, “Let’s try together.”
When people are part of the process they generally respond better than if you simply list your demands.
An experienced doula has usually seen other families successfully negotiate in the hospital environment. She probably knows what’s possible and may have some techniques for helping you “get to yes.”
For example, hospitals in our area require 30-40 minutes of continuous monitoring when a woman first arrives, with intermittent monitoring as an option after that time. The mom is usually asked to lay on her side in the bed for this monitoring, which is hard for most women to do when they are in active labor. Sometimes the nurse will stay and hold the monitor device on her belly, so that she can still move with her contractions without losing the baby’s heart tones on the monitor.
Once one of my doula clients had a nurse who was not willing or maybe not able to stay. The nurse kept insisting that the mom lay on her side, and the mom kept insisting that she couldn’t do that because it would make the contractions too intense. I asked if it might be possible for the dad to hold the device on her belly. The nurse happily agreed. She was able to leave and still get the monitoring she needed, the mom was able to continue standing and leaning with her contractions, and the dad was happy to help.