Your Body, Your Choice: Who do you want in your delivery room?

Who do you want in your delivery room

 I’m sure you’ve thought much about what your baby’s birth will be like. Have you imagined how amazing it will be to finally meet your baby face to face and gaze into each other’s eyes? What will that moment feel like? Will it be everything you imagined, or more?

Perhaps you’ve been worried about how you will handle the physical demands of labor and birth, or maybe you are feeling confident and excited about going through the process of birthing. No matter how much you’ve thought about this upcoming life-bringing and life-changing day, I’m going to give you some things to think about that perhaps you haven’t considered.

Have you put much thought into who will be invited into your birthing space, and what the involvement of others might look like? I’m sure you’ve selected your birth attendant and hopefully you feel good about them. If possible, I’m sure you’d like your partner there to provide encouragement. Will anyone else be there? Mother? Sister? Friend?

 As much as you might be tempted to think about the feelings of others first as you decide who will be present during your labor and birth, don’t let the fear of hurting others feelings take over in your decision making. I am giving you permission to be “selfish” in this instance and think about who you feel emotionally comfortable and safe with. Those are the only people that should surround you, bottom line!

 If you really want your mother there because you have a strong emotional bond that will be helpful during this venerable time, don’t feel pressured into allowing in your mother-in-law just to be “fair.” What is most fair is that YOU feel comfortable, and that is the only fair thing anyone who loves you should be concerned with.

 I’ve seen that uneasy look in too many a woman’s eye during labor and birth as a certain person or people come into the room. When I pick up on that, I whisper to inquire if she’d like me to ask them to step out, but often she lets them remain because she wants to spare feelings. That just makes me sad because I think the feelings of the mother are the most important at that moment.

Just think about it, do you want ANY of your thoughts to be consumed with how you wish __________ was not there? Every sense and emotion should be free and open to experiencing these miraculous moments. Don’t cheat yourself out of that. It’s up to you and hopefully your partner to defend and protect your birthing space.

If you are being hit up by excited loved ones asking if they can be there to see your baby born, don’t agree just to be nice. Unless you feel deep down in your gut that you would be blessed and helped by their presence, it’s best not to make a promise of admittance you’ll later regret.  Hospitals and birthing centers often restrict the number of visitors during labor and birth, so get that information and then decide with that info in mind. While the facility may tell you five visitors COULD be there, it doesn’t mean you need that many. If you only want your partner and one other person, that is what you should have.

Here are some ideas of what you might say to loved ones to let them down gently.

1.) I’ve actually not put much thought into who I feel comfortable with having there. I will think about it and let you know.

2.) I’m sure you are excited and want to participate, but after putting it to a lot of thought; I really want just ___________ there to keep it very intimate and quiet. I know I can count on your understanding and support.

 3.) After thinking and pondering, I’ve realized how emotionally and physically venerable I will feel. While I love you very much, I would feel uneasy with you being there. I’ve decided that the presence of (names of invited) will help me feel the most relaxed and comfortable.

As a labor nurse I’ve seen a lot of unwelcomed and unnecessary drama play out in birthing rooms and hallways as hurt and angry people find out for the first time that they will not be there. I’ve often contemplated how much better and more peaceful this day could have been for this mom and baby if her wishes had simply been expressed in advance. I know it can be a delicate and awkward thing, but your needs and feelings as the birthing woman trump anyone else’s. Someone who may feel entitled to be present is operating out of a greater concern for themselves rather than that of the mother. Given enough time to process, most reasonable people come to realize that.

The sooner you decide which visitors you are comfortable with and when, the better. Expressing those decisions to your loved ones as soon as possible will let them get over any disappointment they might feel and eventually come to support your wishes. This will allow you, and your loved ones to feel more relaxed and at ease during your labor and birth.

If you’ve expressed your desires to that certain loved one and they are resistant to your wishes and you worry they may try to bully themselves into where they are not wanted, give a heads up to your nurse or other birth attendant. Speaking from experience, they will happily be the “bad guy” and defend your birthing space if you need back up.

While every aspect of labor and birth cannot always be predicted and controlled, in this one matter you do have control, so don’t be afraid to express your wishes. I hope this advice helps empower you, and I wish you all the best as you plan and prepare for your baby’s arrival.