One of the greatest things about connecting with your local doula is the information you can glean about the place in which you plan to give birth. Here, I will happily share with you some tidbits about giving birth at the Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s, NL. I hope it helps to fill out the landscape that you have been imagining around your childbirth experience.


#1 – Doulas are an exemption to the two-person rule.

Many hospitals have a limit on the number of people that can accompany a mother/birthing person into the Labour & Delivery Unit. The Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s, has changed its policy in recent years to allow two support people plus your doula! This means that you can plan to have your partner and your mother and your doula; or not one, but two of your best friends and your doula; or any combination of people that works for you! It’s important to keep in mind who you feel will keep a calm energy and offer you the best support in the birthing room.


#2 – What you can expect to be in the birthing room.

When you head to the hospital, you will first be checked out in triage (where there is more than one bed in the room), but once admitted, you will have your own private birthing suite where you will stay until your baby is born. Each room has its own private bathroom with a tub and shower with a hand held attachment. The use of warm water running over the backs and bellies of my clients have helped many of them get through the intensity of transition!
There are also rocking chairs and squat bars available but no birthing balls so you will have to bring your own if you would like to make use of one during labour.


#3 – Skin-to-skin with your newborn is standard.

Once your baby is born, skin-to-skin is now the norm – provided that there are no complications requiring you or your baby to receive medical attention right away. If all is well, newborn procedures are usually delayed for about an hour while parents spend time welcoming their new little person into the world. Baby is usually left naked with warm blankets placed over the parent’s chest. If you would rather not have your baby placed immediately on your chest, you might want to say so! Or specify if you would like them wiped down or wrapped up first. Partners of the birthing parent are welcome to participate in this as well as best suits your family.


#4 – Your placenta is your own.

Did you know you can take your placenta home with you if you wish?

‘And why would I want to do that’ you ask? Well, there could be a couple of reasons. You may be interested in encapsulating your placenta for the purposes of ingestion, having part of it turned into a piece of art or keepsake jewelry or simply burying it somewhere symbolic to you and your family. Once considered bio-hazardous waste, it’s nice to know that option is now available for you if you are interested. Just don’t forget to express your wishes to your caregiver first to find out if there is any reason not to and what you need to have with you for transport.


#5 – Your doctors and nurses love the one page birth preferences.

It’s relatively easy to compile your wishes into a polite, yet concise one-pager that your care giving staff can review quickly if need be to make sure they know what is important to you. For help compiling a birth plan (or preferences – since it’s a hard thing to plan!), consider a birth vision consultation session that will leave you feeling familiar with local hospital policies and aware of the options ahead of you.