My labor and delivery experience was not at all like what you see in the movies. I missed my due date by a week. And when my water finally broke, it took so long for my labor to progress that I was given medication to speed things along.
I had a terrible reaction to the medication—I was shaking, I needed oxygen, and I was generally in a lot of pain. Finally, I got to have an epidural, which meant I was gratefully able to catch some sleep. My husband napped as well, since it was becoming obvious that our son would be making his debut in the middle of the night.
What I didn't know was that my family, deducing that my unresponsiveness to texts meant I was in labor, had come to the hospital. This was not the plan. I could tell at the start of my pregnancy that my mom was interested in being in the room with us, but I told her that I wasn't up for an audience when I was sure I'd be feeling pretty stressed and exposed.
I love my mom, she's totally awesome, but I didn't want anyone but my husband there while I was trying to accomplish this huge, intimidating thing. My mom was disappointed but didn't push back too hard. Where we lost communication was that I thought our plan meant "we'll call you when the baby is here and we're ready for you to come to the hospital" and my mom assumed that there was no harm to being in the waiting room through the delivery.
Luckily I had no idea they were there. We napped, Baby came along, and when my husband grabbed his phone to take pictures we noticed the texts from my parents. We invited them back to my room for a very brief 1:30 a.m. visit with my baby, then they headed home. I was so tired at this point that I hardly even remember. It would have been a lot nicer to rest and be really present for my son meeting his grandparents for the first time.
I am so grateful that I didn't know there were "waiting room warriors" while I was laboring. For me, the pressure to have visitors while I was extremely vulnerable would have undoubtedly had a negative impact on my labor. I also know other people who love having family or friends there for delivery.
We're here to remind you that it's ultimately up to one person who is in the delivery room: Mom! Here are some things to consider as you decide who will be there for your delivery.
There are lots of tips and tricks out there for having a smooth labor, but the experience will undoubtedly be different for everyone. But you should remember that labor and delivery is, at the end of the day, a medical procedure for the mom. Anyone who might be invited to be there should have Mom's safety and comfort as their first priority. That means that these are people who won't cause you stress, even in stressful situations. Someone who isn't your go-to person when you're having an extremely hard day probably isn't the person to have around when you're in labor.
If you decide to invite someone and they end up failing this requirement, don't sit and suffer. Ask them to leave, and get help if you need it.
Did you know that even your baby daddy doesn't have the right to demand a spot in the delivery room? A judge said so! That's because the law recognizes that stress has very real negative impacts on laboring women. So it stands to reason that a judge would also tell you that your mom, mother-in-law, sister, BFF, or anyone else who feels entitled to be there when you're giving birth is wrong.
You aren't obligated to have anyone there, for any reason. You might have some guilt, or field some comments like "But it's MY grandbaby!" But stay strong, Mamma. Your procedure, your choice. Don't let other people force stressful situations on you that can have a negative impact on your labor and those first precious hours with your baby. Anyone in that room should be there because you want them to be.
Yes, the Mom is the patient and gets the final say. But the birth of your child probably isn't a great time to force your partner to share the moment with your mother who he barely tolerates twice a year. If your partner is concerned about being able to support you (squeamish maybe?) then consider having a Doula present to help you both. If you're worried about capturing photos then hiring a birth photographer so your partner is free to support you might be a great idea. You should have a conversation with your partner to make sure that you're both planning for a labor room full of people who will help you be successful and as stress-free as possible.
The bottom line is that your labor and delivery experience will be better if you are 100% happy with everyone in the room. Choose carefully who joins you, state boundaries clearly, and enlist help if your wishes aren't being respected. If people push back, realize that those are exactly the type of people who won't support you, and you won't be happy to have them in the delivery room.
You're not crazy, you're not hormonal, and you're not unreasonable. You're the Mom, and this is your call! Make the choices that will help you have a successful birth, whatever that means for your labor and delivery visitors, and stick to it. You got this, Mamma!