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  • Published 04 January 2024
  • Updated 29 January 2024
Unmedicated Hospital Birth: Choosing Your Hospital

Many people want the experience of a natural or unmedicated birth, but also feel more comfortable giving birth in a hospital. While having an unmedicated birth in a hospital is certainly possible, it requires some additional planning and preparation. One of the most important things is to choose a hospital with policies that are favorable for an unmedicated birth.

Determine your hospital options

Some cities have multiple hospitals where you can give birth, but not every hospital is the same. Many hospitals offer tours of their labor and delivery units, so take advantage of that and visit a couple. See what is available in your area so that you can start to decide what your priorities are.

You may live in an area where there is only one hospital nearby. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you must give birth at that hospital. Some people travel to hospitals a little (and sometimes a lot!) farther away so that they can be in a supportive environment.

Keep in mind that your hospital options may also be limited by your care provider. Most care providers only attend births at one hospital, so if you feel very strongly about working with a particular care provider, your hospital has already been chosen for you. But if you’re still deciding among several providers, where they attend births and what the hospital policies are can help you make that decision as well.

Research hospital policies

Hospital policies will have a big impact on how easy it will be for you to have an unmedicated birth. Finding out what the hospital policies are on different medical interventions can help you make a decision about where to give birth. Here are some questions to ask:

  • What is their “time limit” on how long they will allow you to labor after your water has broken?
  • Under what circumstances will they require you to be induced (for example, if baby is measuring big, if you’re past your due date, if you have gestational diabetes, etc.)?
  • What is the Cesarean rate at the hospital?
  • How many people who come in planning an unmedicated birth actually have one?
  • Do they have any policies or systems in place to specifically support unmedicated birth, such as dedicated low-intervention rooms, nurses specifically trained to support unmedicated birth, or midwives who attend births in the hospital?

Ask for personal recommendations and experiences

Reach out to people who have had unmedicated hospital births and ask whether they felt supported at the hospital where they gave birth. Also ask people who planned for and wanted an unmedicated birth, but didn’t end up having one. These stories can be extremely helpful in determining whether a hospital will truly be supportive of an unmedicated birth, regardless of their stated policies.

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