You may or may not know this, but doulas are particularly gifted at transforming ordinary, boring spaces into cozy, personalized nooks. I mean, have you met our postpartum team? They’re wizards at this, in particular. (Hello, Nursing Nests.)
This talent also truly shines when a birth doula works their magic in a birthing space, turning a standardized (read: sterile and cold) hospital room into a magical birth cave. Today, they’re sharing their secrets on how you too can personalize your hospital room, to really create the safe, settled space in which you will welcome your baby.
Create Mood Lighting
They’re not just for decking the halls during the holidays! Twinkly lights are the PERFECT, romantic light source during birth. They provide enough light to move around without having to turn on the bright overhead fluorescent lights. Why avoid bright lights? Not only do we tend to perceive pain more intensely under the glare of bright lights, a 2009 study found that melatonin helps to synergistically enhance oxytocin production, leading to better coordinated uterine contractions in laboring people! That feels important, no?
Bring your own soft things
Hospital pillows? They’re flatter than pancakes. Be sure to pack your own pillows and a comfy blanket in your birth bag. Don’t want to use your favorite bed pillows? Grab a few cheap (but fluffy!) ones from Target and be sure to put a bright or distinctly patterned pillowcase on it. This helps your birth team easily know which pillows to keep at the top of the bed (and which ones we should keep away from of any potential fluid contact that happens at the end of the bed). The dark patterns further help distinguish between hospital hospital pillows and yours, even in the low lighting of your twinkly lights.
Same for the soft, fuzzy blanket. If the birthing person doesn’t use it (Inductions can take a while, and you may be there overnight waiting for labor to begin), your partner may want it if there’s time for a nap. Remember: Birthing People control the thermostat, so it may be… frigid at times, so partners may also want that blanket throughout labor.
Wear your own clothes
This seems like a no-brainer, but having the option to wear a hospital gown or your own clothes isn’t always presented as a choice upon check-in at the hospital. Find a comfy nightgown or sports bra and knit skirt, and move freely throughout labor. You’ll not only be more comfortable in clothes that have your home’s comforting smells on them, you won’t have to be constantly checking to make sure your bottom is fully covered!
Activate your sense of smell
Speaking of that sense of smell, bring along a diffuser and fill the room with your favorite scents. Aromatherapy is a great way to counteract the (usually germicidal) smells found in most hospital rooms. Orange, bergamot, peppermint, and occasionally lavender (though it can be counter-productive to labor sometimes) are our favorites, but there are so many combinations and choices; you could create a truly personalized blend just for your birth!
Note: If your hospital doesn’t allow aromatherapy, you can also put a few drop of essential oils onto a cotton ball and store in a ziptop bag for sniffing throughout labor.
Have Tunnel Vision
Let’s face it, hospital walls are well, pretty bland. Bring in photographs of your most relaxing vacations, favorite hikes, or peaceful scenes. Or, better yet, ask friends and family members to write encouraging, inspiring affirmations and display those around your birth space. Put them on each wall in your room, so that no matter where you gaze lands you’ll have a ready source of encouragement and reminder of their love and well-wishes during your birth experience.
One of our most favorite displays was a birth affirmation written on a giant sheet of paper, with the phrase “The most important moment of your life is almost here.” This sweet reminder was placed over the room clock to keep their focus on staying present in the moment.