top of page

7 Ways To Create A Relaxing Birth Environment

Doula Kim with a blurred beach and palm trees

By Kimberley Fernandez - CLD, CCCE

Kimberley has been working with pregnant and new families in their birth and postpartum journey since 2006, and currently teaches virtually for a major Toronto hospital as well as offering virtual classes through her teaching portal "The Birthing Room"

For many, birthing in a hospital is where they feel safest, or is the safest option for them to birth their baby. But stepping into a hospital can increase stress levels and potentially cause labour to stall. I wrote a blog a little while ago on just this subject: 2 Ways Stress Can Affect Your Labour And How To Manage It. One way we can combat these stress levels is to try and make the hospital birthing suite as calming and relaxing as possible. And it may seem like an impossible task, but it can definitely be done. Here are seven, easy to implement ways to make your hospital birth calmer and more intimate.

Labouring parent in a tub in hospital
Labouring in water
  1. Dim The Lights - This is a very simple and effective way to make a large bright hospital room feel more intimate. Plus oxytocin, which is one of the hormones used in birth to create contractions and move labour along, can flow better in darkness. If it isn't possible to make the room darkened, consider using an eye mask or labour in the bathroom for a little bit where there are no windows for daylight to stream in.

  2. Shut Out Noise Distractions - Being in a hospital, you will be subjected to the hustle and bustle of the people in ward as well pages over the intercoms. These sounds can disrupt your concentration on your contractions and breathing. Using noise cancelling headphones can help. Listen to music or hypnobirthing scripts while you labour and if you need to answer any questions, you partner can gently ask you to focus on the room or the medical staff again, but not until after a contraction is finished.

  3. Shut The Door - In addition to noise cancelling headphones, I encourage you to keep the door to your labour room closed. Often times the nurses will leave them open and just draw a curtain over the door. There is no reason for the door to be open, if anything becomes emergent, you can use the call bell to summon the nurse and any monitoring for the birthing parent can be seen at the nurses or team station. Closing the door can again, add to the intimacy of the room you are in.

  4. Turn Down The Sound On The Monitors - If you are being continuously monitored, you can have the sound turned down if you are finding it distracting. However, for some, hearing baby's heart rate can be calming and reassuring, in which case you can have the sound turned up if you like.

  5. Play Music - As part of a comfort measure technique, playing music can create an atmosphere in the room and also change your own mood. You want to have a few playlists, one that is upbeat and fun to lighten your mood, and another that is calm and relaxing to lower your stress levels.

  6. Consider Candle Light - Well, not real candles, they would be a fire hazard, but what about LED candles. These can create a warm glow in a dimmed hospital room and make it feel more intimate and less...well...hospitally.

  7. Wear Your Own Clothes - There are no rules that say you have to wear the blue gown. A study published in 2019 found that hospital gowns "might contribute towards patients experiencing an increased sense of exposure, discomfort, disempowerment, and embarrassment at a time of potential vulnerability while undergoing medical intervention, emphasising the importance of challenging cultural norms in health care. Dehumanising aspects of care, as symbolically represented by the hospital gown, might adversely affect patient wellbeing and increase distress." But what do you wear? Comfortable, loose, easy to remove clothing that allows for free movement and will give easy access for skin to skin at the time of birth. There are specially designed labour gowns you can purchase or simply an oversized shirt, loose pyjama gown, slippers or socks. Just remember, birth can be messy so you don't want anything too nice in case it gets ruined during the birth.

These are just a few ways to make labour feel more calm and intimate in a hospital setting. Oxytocin, that amazing hormone that we need for labour, is shy and needs quiet intimacy to do its job properly. Plan for these ways in the weeks leading up to labour to make your hospital birth a little less stressful.


By Kimberley Fernandez - CLD, CCCE

Kimberley has been a Doula, working with birthing families since 2006. Her favourite part of the job is educating soon to be and new parents all about birth, postpartum, body feeding and their new little human.

Kim is also the mother of three young adults whose births guided her to this work.

In her down time she plays video games and watches a ridiculous amount of TV and movies.

To learn more about Kim and the variety of free and low cost classes she offers check this link:


Featured Posts
Recent Posts