It is known that anxiety interferes with the hormones of labour - and what perfect sense this makes. In nature if a woman is anxious it may not be safe for her to birth - safety is obviously paramount in birth and this feeling of withdrawing is natural to ensure a woman finds a safe place. We have indoctrinated women that hospital is the place of safety so no wonder this is where most women choose. Also it follows why many women go to hospital very early in labour - they wish to settle into their chosen place of birth.
Excerpt from Anna Berkely's home birth story on Birth International.
The above quote resonated with me because its a thought that I have been unable to put into words previously. When I was in labor with my son, I thought I was doing so well to not go to the hospital early in labor. The labor sensations started at 1 am in the morning, and by 11 am I was still having regularly spaced contractions. I had had an midwife appointment scheduled that day so I had waited for that visit before deciding to go the hospital. At that appointment, the midwife advised me to check into Labor and Delivery because I was already 3 cm dilated and contracting regularly. With that recommendation and the knowledge that labor had started some hours earlier, I figured I wouldn't be checking into the hospital during early labor and that I'd be able to hole up and find my space to birth my baby. I went to check in but L&D was full. They were full for another 5 hours. It was then that my labor seemed to go into a holding pattern, it didn't stop, it didn't slow down, but it also didn't progress or intensify as it should.
So no surprise that at 4 pm, when I was permitted to enter the birthing unit, there had been no further progress (in spite of walking to stimulate contractions and resting to conserve energy). I was very frustrated when after another 4 hours in the hospital filled with constant monitorring, interruptions and conflict with staff, I was told to leave because I was refusing interventions that would artifically stimulate the labor to progress.
I found that the hospital wasn't a safe place for me where I could feel comfortable to birth my baby. After the preceeding anxious hours before going into the hospital, I encountered even more anxiety when being pressured by the attending midwife to interfere with my baby's birth against my wishes. I strongly belief that standard procedures and "admission criteria" are a causative factor to my stress filled early labor which continued on in total for over 30 hours. From that point on, active labor and the birth went smoothly. An easy and straightforward 8 hours later, the sunshine in my life was born.
If I could go back and do it all over again, my birth plan would be much different. I would have chosen a home environment as the birth setting and a supportive, encouraging midwife. I know that I need a emotionally safe and nurturing environment to enable the process of birth to proceed from my body. And a hospital is not where I will find it.