hospital birthBefore I had my daughter, I didn’t have a vision of how the birth would go. I didn’t know how much pain to expect or how long it would take until it was time to push, but there was one thing I was pretty sure of — that how I chose to labor would be left up to me. Birthing a child is the most primal thing on the planet and barring any complications, I would do it with as little intervention as possible. That’s how nature intended and I didn’t feel the need to be comfortably numb during something so earth-shattering. Then, I stepped through the hospital doors on a cold January night and found out that these days, they do it a little differently than I imagined.

On the night before my baby’s birth, we arrived at a popular Baltimore hospital around 10:30. Since my water had broken at home, I was instructed by the on-call doctor to come right into the hospital. I wasn’t in any pain and though I was told I was having contractions, I couldn’t feel them yet. At that moment, I was actually excited for them to begin. I could handle it. I was ready.

Suddenly, everything changed. I stood up to go to the bathroom and the nurse asked what I was doing. I have to pee, I told her. The nurse politely asked me, no, told me, that I needed to get in the bed and if I had to pee, it would be in the bedpan.

“Even number two?” I joked.

“Bedpan.”  Whoa, slow down. We just met.

I was confused. Though my gynecologist had chuckled a bit when I asked about making a birth plan (oh, silly me for wanting to have some choice in the matter), she failed to mention that I would be bound to the bed after my water broke, or that I would only be allowed to um, poop, in a bedpan.

I was stunned. Laying back down, I knew this was not the best position for pain management and often slows labor down immensely. So why was I being told to do this, after everything I’d read warning against staying put? The only answer I received was that it was “hospital policy.” It seemed a rather important hospital policy to neglect mentioning through eight months of prenatal visits and in-depth discussions with one’s doctor, but even more confusing was that no one could tell me why.