Wherever you decide to give birth (home, hospital, or birth center), you have control over your own environment. However, some places, like a hospital, will be more limiting on what you can bring or how you can alter the room than if you were to give birth at home. Did you know that creating a safe and comfortable environment can actually help labor progress more quickly? Here are some suggestions for personalizing your labor and delivery room.
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Set the Lights
Fluorescent lighting can be obnoxious and hard on your eyes, plus it’s not very welcoming. Ask to dim the lights and only turn on the bright ones when needed. You can also bring in battery powered candles or string lights. Unfortunately, most hospitals or birth centers will not allow open flames due to the fire hazard.
Bring Photos from Home
Adding a few photos to your bedside table can help make your room feel a little more homey. Some moms bring something from home to make them feel more relaxed and calm. This can include wedding photos, ultrasound pictures, vacation shots, or just family photos in general. You can also bring artwork from your older kids or a poster with your favorite quote. Whatever makes you feel comfortable, calm, and empowered!
A Blanket or Pillow
Bringing a favorite blanket or pillow from home can help you feel a little cozier. Draping the colorful blanket over the white hospital bed sheets can really help liven up the room and make it feel less clinical. Not to mention the hospital blankets and pillows are sometimes small, thin, or overall uncomfortable so bringing your own can really help you feel cozy.
Bring a speaker
Playing music, white noise, meditation, or even your hypnobirthing tracks can help you focus and relax. Playing music can help drown out the sounds of the hospital, people talking in the hallways, or even the machines. You can also ask to turn the volume down or off on anything that beeps in your room if it’s bothering you.
Bring good scents
Talk with your hospital to find out if they allow essential oils or similar in the rooms. If you aren’t allowed to diffuse them, some moms say they soak a couple of cotton balls and seal them in a baggie. You can do this with essential oils or bag up some of your favorite smells like coffee grounds or vanilla. A lot of women actually recommend the bag route because you can seal it up if you start to get tired of the scent. This beats trying to air out the whole room. You can also put a drop of scented oil on a headband or bring your favorite lotion or hand cream. Just check with your prenatal care provider to see which essential oils are safe to use before bringing them.
Play your favorite show
Most rooms are equipped with a tv so you can bring a roku stick or chromecast. If your hospital doesn’t have a tv in the rooms, bring a laptop or ipad so you can put on your favorite movie or show if you desire. Sometimes labor can be boring (especially during inductions or after you get pain medication) so being able to stay relaxed and preoccupied can help the time go by faster. If you aren’t big on tv, you can bring your favorite book or magazine to help distract yourself.
To go along with the above suggestion, you can also bring a fun board game or deck of cards to play while you pass the time. After my epidural, I was chained to the bed and couldn’t move for 29 hours. I wished I would have at least brought a deck of cards. This way I could play some games with my husband to help distract myself. Cards are great because they don’t take up a lot of room and they have so many different games you can play with them.
Pack your own Gown and/or Robe
Some women don’t mind wearing a hospital gown while others find them scratchy and uncomfortable. I didn’t mind my gown and liked that I wasn’t worried about ruining my own clothes. However, bringing a gown or dress from home can help you feel more comfortable and less like a patient. Just beware, it will most likely be ruined if you keep it on for delivery. If you are worried about the mess, you can change into a hospital gown towards the end or just go all natural (which is what most women end up doing anyways).
A lot of moms also prefer to have a lightweight robe with them in the hospital. This is a great way to cover your backside if you are stuck walking the halls of L&D or if you have guests in the room. I assumed I would want a big fluffy robe, but the hospital has to keep the rooms warm for baby. I found myself feeling very warm most of the time. I’m really glad I had this lightweight ¾ sleeve robe to wear before and after delivery.
Add or Remove People
If someone is trying to pressure their way into the delivery room that you don’t want present, make sure to stand your ground or have someone else enforce it. Having somebody there telling you what to do, nagging, or just making you feel a little exposed can put a damper on your labor experience. Nurses are usually happy to tell people the room is closed to visitors, the occupancy is maxed out, or just express that you do not wish to see anyone at this time. This is your birth experience, so you get to decide who is allowed in.
However you decide to modify your labor room, just make sure to do it YOUR way. It’s important to feel as comfortable as possible during this time, so now is the time to take control.
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