Q&A: Can I Have a Natural Birth at Salem Hospital?

We get a fair number of questions about policies and procedures at Salem Hospital. While we don't have all the answers, we're confident in answering the 'natural birth' question that comes up often.

Can I have a natural birth in a hospital?

Yes, yes, and yes. We are incredibly blessed in the Salem area with Salem Health and other surrounding hospitals that do an excellent job of listening to each family's desires and addressing them the best they can.  The majority of the births we attend are at Salem Hospital, so the examples in this blog post will mainly be related to the standard of care they provide. 

Will they respect my birth plan? 

Yes. At each birth that we have attended in Salem, birth plans have been read and noticed. If there is anything in your plan they don't feel they can agree to, they will have a discussion with you before it reaches that point in your labor. (And we have not yet had a nurse make a client feel 'dumb' for anything in their birth plan.)

Can I have delayed cord clamping?

Yes- it's actually done by most providers at this point. The standard is at least one minute of a delay. This delay may be shortened if there's a medical reason (such as excessive bleeding) that has the possibility of a negative impact on mom or baby.

Do I have to be on IV's all the time? 

No. The minimum standard of care involves placing a saline-lock upon admittance to the Labor and Delivery unit. IV fluids, antibiotics, etc, are then only used as necessary. Having access to the IV can become very important, very quickly. The saline-lock allows that to happen.

Will I be monitored constantly?

If you're having a VBAC, yes. But that doesn't limit you to lying on the bed during the entire labor. They're able to monitor you in the hallway, the tub, on a ball, etc. If you're not having a VBAC, they'll monitor you on a schedule that leaves you with plenty of time and space to move around. There may be times where they need you on the bed for a 20ish minute strip of monitoring or longer pending interventions/health issues, but they're often able to make that work with you in positions other than flat on the bed.

Will I be pushed into an epidural? 

Nope. Write on your birth plan that you would prefer they didn't offer pain medication and the nurses will not offer pain medication. (But if you ask for it, they'll make it happen as soon as humanly possible. They're kind like that.)

Can I eat during labor? 

Salem offers jello, popsicles, broth, and juices/clear fluids. Their policy doesn't allow for other food during labor... but it's rare that someone wants a cheeseburger and fries in the middle of labor.

Do I need permission to have a doula in the room? 

No. We don't know every other doula in the area, but we know those who work with PNW Doulas. We get along well with the staff at the hospital and work hard to make sure that relationship stays a positive one. Your room becomes your space during your labor and delivery, and Salem Hospital does a very good job of respecting that. A doula is your guest in the delivery room- the same as a parent, sister, or child would be. 

Will I get skin-to-skin with my child?

Yes. Unless there is a medical issue that requires the baby receive immediate treatment, your baby will be placed directly on you. Skin to skin is incredibly important and very much encouraged at Salem Health. The typical wait time is around an hour before weight, measurement, etc, need to happen.

Will I be pushed into using interventions I don't want?

Salem Health does a great job of explaining the reasoning and process for each intervention. Informed consent is a thing... an important thing. And they respect it.

What about that gown? Can I wear my own clothes?

Absolutely. Wear what you're most comfortable in. Just keep in mind that birth can be a bit messy.

Do you have other questions pertaining to birth in a hospital in the Salem area?