Promoting Normal Birth in a Hospital Labour Room

Your birth space needs to be comfortable and safe and feel private.  There needs to be curtains pulled across the door so that if someone walks in the room there is still privacy.  There should be a sign on the door saying please knock and wait before entering and this must be respected.

There should be natural light either by having large window or a skylight with fresh air from window or doors that open to the outside, preferably onto somewhere private, like a garden.

You should be free to change the layout of the room around and to individualise it for yourself.

Moving the bed to the side of the room or to the side or against the wall and placing other equipment such as mats and exercise balls around the room gives you more options in the positions you choose to give birth in.

The mats, birth balls, bean bag, chairs or birth stools should be visible and available. A mat and ball should be placed in the centre of the room instead of being hidden.

The bed must be moved from the central position, but most importantly it should not have sheets drawn back ‘inviting; the woman to get in.  The bed could be designed as a day bed appearing as a couch, and the support people could use them as well.  The bed could be raised or lowered and covered with cushions or pillows for use as a support for the woman or her partner/support person.  The white sheets on the bed could also be changed.  The colour of the sheets could be changed or even a coloured blanket could be placed on the bed.

Bringing some colour into the room as well as some natural light or lamps would also have a calming effect.

Music is used for pain management in different areas of health.  Music should be selected by the woman and/or her partner/support person.

Students suggested that some items could also be removed or hidden.  For example, medical equipment should be concealed in cupboards so that the woman and her family do not need to see them, but they will be easily accessible by midwives when needed, instead of having to fun to the store room or leave the room in the case of an emergency.  Women should be able to walk into birthing room/suite and not be threatened by intimidation equipment of CTG machines, resucitares and other intimidating equipment that may allude to wore possibilities or co plications that may arise.

If the bath is in a separate room, the bathroom door should be kept open so that the bath is in sight.

You and your partner should be told that the room in the hospital is ‘your’ room and to make it as comfortable and homely as possible.  You should feel like you can use any space of the room you want to without being afraid that you will damage hospital technology or machines.  Examples of familiar items could include a soft night light, a blanked or pillow, a picture to focus on, music etc.

(extract from Midwifery Today Vol 12 Autumn 2012, p41)