Whether you're clashing with your mother-in-law or your labor and delivery nurse, it's okay to ask someone to leave! Here's how.

pregnant woman in labor
Credit: Veer

Imagine this: You're in labor, and it's going perfectly. Your carefully typed birth plan has been safely deposited in the hands of your nurse, your giving-birth playlist is playing in the background, and you're weathering your contractions like a pro.

Then an unwanted visitor shows up in your delivery room. And doesn't want to leave.

What's a mama-to-be to do? If that uncomfortable moment arrives, remember this handy "how to kick someone out of the delivery room" guide:

Prepare ahead of time. If you can, plan who will be with you during your labor and delivery before you leave for the hospital or birth center. Find out how many people can be in the delivery room, and talk to your partner and any family or friends who you want to be with you. Labor and delivery can be a difficult and lengthy process, so don't feel guilty for not wanting a lot of visitors. Stick to something simple, like: "We're planning to have a private delivery" to avoid hurt feelings from other family members.

Rely on your health-care team. Your labor and delivery nurse will be your number-one resource when it comes to ensuring that the only people in your delivery room are the ones you want to be there. Whether you prep her in advance that she'll need to play referee or you decide as you're pushing that Grandma needs to go, she'll be more than happy to comply. Your ob-gyn can do the dirty work, too. "I'm always happy to be 'the bad guy' and ask someone to leave," says M. Kathryn Buchanan, M.D., an ob-gyn with MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center in Baltimore. "Because I'm focused on your comfort and experience, I am not worried about offending someone." Don't hesitate at any time to ask the health-care staff if you'd like someone removed from the delivery room -- and don't feel guilty about it, either. After all, you're not going to labor well if there's someone in the room making you uncomfortable, says Tina Alessi, a certified nurse-midwife at Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, New Jersey.

Don't feel intimated. It's all well and good to control which family and friends remain with you during the labor and delivery process, but what happens if you run into complications with the staff? The truth is, labor and delivery nurses, doctors, and midwives are all people with unique personalities -- and sometimes patients and staff clash. If that happens, there are a few things you can do:

1) Speak with the manager of the unit. If you've got a particular problem with a nurse, you or your partner should ask to speak to the manger of the unit. Be brief, courteous, and clear about what you want -- outline the problem at hand and, if it's your wish, ask if another nurse can be transferred to your care. "Patients have the right to feel comfortable with their care providers," says Lisa Allen, D.O., ob-gyn at Lapeer Obstetrics and Gynecology in Lapeer, Michigan.

2) Get recommendations ahead of time. One great way to avoid any awkward encounters with staff during your labor is to get recommendations from fellow new moms. If they gush about a certain labor and delivery nurse, find out her name and specifically request her when you check into the labor and delivery unit.

3) Just say no. Laboring at a teaching hospital? Know this: You have the right to refuse students or residents in your room. Not everyone minds, of course, but if you're uncomfortable having a gaggle of students in your room, speak up. (Students won't take it personally -- it's just a part of their education in patient rights.)

Know your rights. In some instances, a mother-to-be may have a complicated relationship with her baby's father, and it can be helpful for her to know her rights on delivery day. In a recent ruling, a New Jersey judge stated that a mother has the right to ban her baby's biological father from the delivery room. If you're concerned that your situation might warrant legal interference, investigate your state's rights and hospital policies ahead of time.

Make a postbirth plan. If your family members are hurt that they're not invited to -- or have been kicked out of -- the delivery room, remind them that they'll have lots of time to visit you and your newborn after the birth. Let them know the hospital or birth center's visiting hours, and ask them to come back at a specific time. And if you're still worried about unwelcome guests postdelivery, tell them that most hospitals have a mandated one-hour postbirth recovery time, when no one will be allowed in the room.

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