How to Make a Calm Room for Labor

Pregnant woman relaxing
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Candles flickering in the darkness as you listen to Billy Joel croon his lullaby. You're wearing your big, soft t-shirt and the room smells of baking cookies.

Of all the things you plan for during your labor and birth experience, the room is probably way down on your list. I would argue that you should actually move it up on the list. The reason is that your physical environment can influence your state of mind and how well you can relax and yes, even enjoy the experience.

Creating the Perfect Environment for Labor

If you are anxious or nervous, it can be made worse by your environment. Is there a noise that is driving you crazy? Planning for that type of thing can help you conquer it. Here are some other tips for designing an environment for your labor:


Whether you're having your baby at home, in a hospital or birth center, there are ways to alter what you're seeing. This might be less needed at home and more so in unfamiliar environments. The good news is that many hospitals realize that the sight of medical equipment, even when not in use, can be distressing, so they hide it in cabinets or behind curtains. To make your space more your own consider bring a blanket or pillow with you, though choose a vibrant color that won't fall into the hospital laundry easily. You might also choose some pictures or other visual aids from home. Also, consider the light level in your room. Many laboring moms prefer low-level lights or near darkness.


Whether the noise comes from the hospital intercom, machines or your next-door neighbor, you may want to drown them out. Having some small speakers and your MP3 player to play your favorite tunes can do that plus provide you with a sense of calm as you hear the familiar songs. It's also worth mentioning that sometimes quiet is what you really want or need. A white noise machine may be helpful and simply reminding everyone to speak calmly and quietly. 


Do you use aromatherapy? Or perhaps you're trying to mask that hospital smell. Either way, bring a few scents you like to use in labor. Remember scents do many things, know which perk you up, which calm you and which make your stomach churn. Use a washcloth in labor for adding scent to the room. That way if it's overwhelming or later needs to be changed, you can easily remove it.


The people that you have chosen for your care are important. When they walk into the room you should feel comfortable. If you don't feel that way, you need to have some serious talks about building that level of trust in your practitioners.


Are you an "invite the whole neighborhood" kind of gal? Or maybe the "If you weren't at the conception you can't be at the birth" kind of gal. Either way, invite people who are helpful and relevant. Your entire sorority is probably not the ideal guest list. 

Be sure that there are no two women who would choose exactly the same thing. You might not care about the clothes you wear and your identical twin wouldn't think of being caught dead in a hospital johnny. Don't sweat it. Plan ahead, be ready to go with the flow and enjoy your birth.

By Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH
Robin Elise Weiss, PhD, MPH is a professor, author, childbirth and postpartum educator, certified doula, and lactation counselor.