Living life… It can be a complicated process. It’s full of a heck of a lot of decision-making, and sometimes people find themselves having to stand up for what they believe in: what they feel is “right” for themselves, their loved ones, or even the world at large.
I say, do it to it. Don’t live regrets, if you can avoid it. Let that bold and beautiful voice be heard, ESPECIALLY when it comes to choices about the self, the body, and well-being. Feeling in control can mean feeling happy. Feeling like that voice was heard can be important — really important — both in the moment and for a lifetime to come.
Although doctors may seem authoritative and important, in the end, a mom’s body is her body, and her childbirth experience is her own, so take note, strong women: Here are 20 things OBGYNs are actually not allowed to do.
It’s just not the best position. Gravity? Nah. Comfort? Nope. Instinctual? Probably not. A squat or hand-and-knees position may be favorable, but for a doctor’s view and baby-catching ability, you will likely feel strongly urged: Back is best. They can’t make you, though… Try practicing some other positions and perhaps having a doula along to advocate for you if that’s your style.
Based on my own personal hospital childbirth experiences, I can share this much: You are not allowed to have children in the birthing room that are not your own children. You are, however, allowed to have your own brood along for the ride. Why do I know this? Sometimes, you can’t give grandma enough notice to make it there in time to watch your older babe…
You can say no to a pelvic exam at any time. I chose to late in pregnancy, and here’s why. And I think it’s why, and this is just an educated guess, that healthcare providers may begin to present the exam more as an option in the final week or weeks, rather than a certainty: With my first, I’m fairly confident that the exam acted as membrane sweep that jumpstarted labor (which was, to be fair, right on time…).
It doesn’t matter what you’ve seen on TV or heard from your girlfriends or family members. You get to choose whether or not you want to opt for pain-relieving or numbing measures during childbirth. In fact, you may very well wish to include your opinions about this subject in your birth plan (and to read up and practice hard if you plan to have a “natural” birth).
Labor and birth are hard work. When the body does hard work, it requires — you guessed it — hydration and energy! We get these two things by eating and drinking. Although moms may feel nauseas and have little desire to consume much of anything, having sips of water or other hydrating fluids and very mellow caloric intake can really do the trick to get her though birth.
It is certainly the norm, and what many health insurance plans will cover at least partially, but it does not mean that it is what you have to do: You can choose to give birth somewhere that is not a hospital. You can look into the options in your area for home birth, or try to find a really great birth center in your neck of the woods.
They do not HAVE to admit you. In fact, they probably won’t be allowed to unless you have been examined and determined to be far enough along that the baby will be born before too long. But you can certainly go in to the hospital whenever you feel that you should. Even if you aren’t admitted yet, at least any worries you had can be addressed, and you will be in the place you need to be before too long.
Just like you don’t have to agree to a pelvic exam late in pregnancy, you also don’t have to agree to one during labor. Although doctors and nurses may say it’s time to do a “check,” you can certainly ask that this not be done. Maybe you’re in your coping groove, or maybe you just don’t really see the point: The baby will come when it comes, right?
It is sort of standard hospital stuff to have newly admitted patients disrobe and then dress in nothing but a hospital gown, which makes sense because then the various checks an procedures can be easily done, and at no risk to a patient’s personal wardrobe. However, they can’t make you change. (But they can warn you that your stuff may get ripped, soiled, lost, or destroyed.)
They just can’t let you do it. They are paid (a LOT) to make sure you are safe and healthy, and if they let you stand up and try to walk on your own right after giving birth (in many cases with a numbing epidural…), that would sort of just be asking for (legal) trouble, right? They will insist on helping you up and warn you that your legs probably won’t work as well as you might think.
It’s the law, and it makes sense: You have to have a safe way to get your newborn baby home from the hospital, and so you have to have your infant car seat ordered, received, assembled, brought along, and ready to go. Hospital staff may be required to be sure of this before you are allowed to leave.
Here’s the thing about getting an epidural: It has been shown to slow down labor. You know what doesn’t slow down labor? Staying upright and mobile (that means moving around, by the way). You know what you can’t do once you’ve had an epidural? Move around. Basically, you’re bed-bound.
The staff of the labor and delivery unit at your local hospital also has to follow the protocol that applies for the hospital as a whole: Patients do not just get up and walk out on their own.
In fact, it is completely standard for hospital discharge that patients (whether they just had a baby or some form of illness or injury) ride to the exit in a wheelchair.
Doctors have the final say: Can you go home, or not? About two full days following the birth of baby (if it’s a fairly standard birth without complications) is pretty normal for moms to stay in the hospital with their brand-new babes. But during this action-packed period of about 48 hours, doctors and nurses will be all about making sure you are capable and fit to tackle the parental job at hand without their professional assistance.
Not only will doctors (and nurses) need to make sure you’re doing okay and know what you’re doing well enough to be discharged; they also, of course, have to make sure the baby is set to do well when not under constant medical supervision. Are they eating? Are they peeing? Are they pooping? Have any medical problems or concerns been sufficiently remedied or at least addressed?
Moms may feel great pressure to breasted. They may feel very set on formula feeding. The thing to know? That’s their choice. Doctors (and nurses, and lactation consultants, and mothers-in-law…) cannot make you feed your baby a certain way. They are there to help you and may try to nudge you in the direction they think is best, though.
Many modern hospitals actually have a quite advanced sensor system in place. Wristbands will be put on anyone who comes in, and newer models will actually sound an alarm if the wrong mom/person is too close to the wrong baby. Crazily enough, there have been instances that provoked hospitals to deem these precautions necessary.
These days, rooming in is often encouraged. That’s when instead of swooping the baby off to the nursery, she or he is encouraged to be kept in a little wheely bassinet right by the new momma’s bedside, the better for all to become adjusted and bond and feed and all those good things.
You can’t always get what you want. And if you think you are about to be at the pushing phase — because oh my god you have already experienced such pain and intensity from your contractions — but you just aren’t, doctors and nurses simply will not be allowed to officially admit you and get you settled into a birthing room. That’s just not how it works.
At the same time, just because you are not far enough along to be admitted, it doesn’t mean that you have to go home. I opted to stay, personally, because riding in the car at the height of my contractions was one of the more difficult and painful things I’ve ever done, so yeah… no thanks on repeating that. You’ll likely be able to hang out in triage or walk the halls to encourage labor to progress.
Sources: The Bump, Natural Hospital Birth: The Best of Both Worlds