Who you really need to have in the delivery room

Giving birth, wether it is your first, second or third can be a very powerful experience.  And sharing those special moments with those we love and care about can feel like a wonderful way to bond. 

But what if we invite someone to the labor and they turn out to be a nightmare?  Or they try and influence our choices in the heat of the moment with their own agenda? 

These are the guidelines I used when deciding who comes into the delivery room with me, I hope they help you find the right people to have by your side. 

First off, check with your birth location on how many people they permit

Before you invite anyone you need to know how many will be premited to enter the room.  Some locations are really strict, others not so much.  So it’s best to check and see what you can and can’t do. 

Also if you are working with a doula, ask if they are counted in the invite or as part of the medical team (hint they are usually one of your invites).

Think about how you want to experience your labour and delivery

Ideally, we would all get our picture perfect labor and delivery.  The reality can be a bit different, however, having the people around you that are supportive is a key thing in helping you through the process. 

Some commonly included people are:
Doula
Husband/Father of the baby
Mother
Mother in law
Sister(s)
Friend(s)

Many of these people are very helpful and supportive, but sometimes the personalities can get in the way.  Or they have a different “ideal” delivery and think you need the one they want instead of what you have stated.

So think about what you would like the most.  YOU, no one else makes this choice, not even baby’s daddy!

Should you really let your Mother-in-law into the delivery room? What about your squeemish sister? Pushy Aunt? Here are the tips I used to decide who to invite to our little one's debut into the world.
Photo credit: Joe Kurtz on VisualHunt / CC BY

Put yourself first

Girl this is one of those times where you need to be selfish!  When you are considering someone to come into that space think about things like the fact that this person will see you naked.  They will see you at your most vulnerable.  They need to be someone you trust not to push an agenda, or cause some dramatic scene in an effort to steal your thunder. 

If you have multiple people you want present also think about the dynamic between those people.  Do they all get along?  Or are they always at each others throats? Pick people that will focus on you and keeping you happy and comfy (as much as you can be).

Think about the timing, do you want a full house for the labor, but come delivery it’s hubby only?

Where in the room do you want people? Head of the bed, foot of the bed, or waiting room?  Be upfront and honest with people about what you are ok with.  If they can’t respect your wishes cross them off the invite list.

Related: The Hands Down Best Labor Advice I Ever Found

Consider Photographing the birth

Ok, before I had our little one the idea of someone taking my photo mid push really freaked me out.  However our doula offered to take some photos of the process from my phone and I couldn’t be happier.  

While I don’t know that I would hire a “profesional photographer” for the next one, I’m dead set that I want photos of some kind to comemorate the special moments that we all had.  And I never even noticed that there was a photo being taken until well after the birth when I was taking them. 

Again this is also something to ask your birth location what their rules are on the idea though.  Not all locations permit photography or even videography. 

If you do go the professional route, look for someone who has a style you like and has done this type of work before.  A good photographer will do everything they can to ‘stay out of the way” while capturing your precious moments. 

You should not have to feel like you have cameras in your face all the time.

You will also want to ensure that any medical staff in the room have given you permission to photo/video them BEFORE they have their images captured.  This can make anyone, especially medical staff nervous and they have a right to privacy as much as you do.  If you catch them on tape don’t publish it anywhere, not Facebook, Instagram or any other online sharing medium untill/unless you have their permision.  It can get you and them into trouble if you are not careful.

 Delivery room etiquette

This is one of those things that likely varies from place to place, but in general there are some common things like 

Safety First

The staff attending you need to be able to take care of you, that means if you invite 10 people and the room holds 3 there is a space issue that means your care providers will likely clear the room in order to work with you… and no one gets to come in then. 

This can also mean that conflicting personalities of people invited may get kicked out too, as they are distracting to the staff who are there for the main event (ie you and baby).

Should the father be in the room?

Historically speaking, well I should say in recent history.  Men did not come into the delivery room unless they were a doctor.  But these days it’s common to hear that the guy was there getting his hand squished, and yelled at for being “at fault” for the woman having so much pain….

However just because something is more common now, doesn’t mean it is the right choice for you.  I think this is a very big question and should be discussed between you two. 

My husband is a more “traditional” male on this one, he expected that when his wife (me) went into labor he would wait in the waiting room until kiddo was born and then go celebrate with the guys.  I’m more of the “no way in hell am I doing this alone” type.  In the end we compromised, and he joined me in the delivery room.  But we also hired a doula to do all the hard work so all he had to do was be there.

Again, talk it through with the man in question.  If you feel safer (like me)with him in the room then I belive he should be there (no matter how traditional he is).  But if you don’t talk to him you’ll never know what his thoughts are.

Should your mom be in the delivery room?

This one really depends, I know a number of women who had their mom’s in the room with them and loved it, and others who cursed the idea.  You really need to ask yourself these questions:

  • Will she be supportive of any choice you make?
  • Will she hover, or be actually helpful?
  • Will the moment turn into her for you (even if only in your own head)?
  • Is this really a moment you want to share with her?
  • Will her presence relax you or stress you out?

We all love our Mom’s and there can be a great bond formed in the delivery room with them.  But if they are not going to contribute to a relaxed environment then it is ok to not have them there. 

Related: Labor Pain Management; 15 Tips for a Scream-Free Labor

When thinking about who to invite (or not) to your little one's birth considerations like room size and how many people will fit are only part of the equation.  Here is what you need to know about who should be in the delivery room with you.
Photo credit: DFAT photo library on VisualHunt / CC BY

Should your mother-in-law be in the delivery room.

Men, one question… do you want to stand naked in front of your father-in-law? No? Then don’t ask your lady to in front of her Mother-in-law… 

Ladies if you have a solid relationship with your mother-in-law and you can honestly answer the questions above about her the same, by all means invite her. 

But if your guy pulls the “but she’s my Mom” card, refer to the line above.  

This was not an option in our case, my Mother-in-law lives over seas so it was a moot point to talk about it.  But even if she lived in the same house as we did it would have been a hard no for me. 

I don’t want my mom in the delivery room

This is likely more normal then you think, but there are some Mom’s who insist on it.  Here are the tips I would use to address the topic with them BEFORE you go into labor. 

Be upfront right from the start.  Something like “Mom, this is something that I want us to do together, and we will be sure to keep you posted on how things go, and of course you can visit as soon as I feel upto it.” Should take care of it. 

Don’t tell them when you go into labor.  Honestly, it may happen too quickly for you to tell them anyway.  And it is a plausible reason to not call at the first contraction.   We didn’t tell my parents (or anyone) when I went into labor, partly because I had to be convinced that I was in labor and partly because I didn’t feel the need to worry anyone. 

Do not have them wait in the waiting room if you can help it.  This could lead to them “poking their head in” just to see how things are going.  And may lead to more stress for you… so just don’t.

Also keep in mind with all the privacy laws these days medical staff likely can’t give your parents updates on how things are going, which means your partner is going to get called out anytime they have questions.  When he should be with you.

Our newborns first moments are very precious, and it is understandable that we would want to share that with some of the special people in our lives.  Who you should have in the delivery room with you for the momentus occasion is largely up to you, but there are also other things to think about before you go into labor.
Photo by Ewout Paulusma on Unsplash

I don’t what anyone in the delivery room… and they still keep pushing me to let them.

There are some relatives out there who insist on attending the birth of children for some unknown reason.  Personally I don’t get it, but you could have one in the family or a friend who just insists that they NEED to be there. 

You are welcome to let them if you think they will fit with the type of birth you want.  However there are a few key phrases that can be used to keep them out or make it clear that their presence wouldn’t be the present you want from them that day.

“You know that would be great, but the hospital has limited us to just me and hubs”

or

“I’m so happy your are enthusiastic about this baby, we are too!” and then re-direct them to another topic with out making any promises. 

Keep in mind you can always “forget” to tell them (or anyone) when you go into labor. 

Can the hospital keep people out of my delivery room?

Short answer, yes of course they can. 

And in most situations they will keep out anyone they feel is unsafe and likley have them removed by security. 

However for the people you choose to have there it depends. 

If you post on all your social media that you are in labour and the room number chances are people will pop in that you may not intend to be in the room with you.  And the staff won’t be able to catch them all, even with things like signs on the door stating they have to check with reception. 

Some birth locations in the area where I am have fully locked down wards, which means everyone has to check in with the nursing station before getting into the ward, which will make it easier to keep extra visitors out. 

When we were talking about visitors with our midwife she speciffically asked me if there was anyone I wanted to keep out and gave me the option to write out a list (not that I had one) that she would have in my file.  So when the day came we would have a pre-arranged group of people who were permitted in the room.  And a flat ban on anyone else who may want to enter.  Ask your care provider if they do this, if not write it on your birth plan of who you want there, and if you have anyone in particular you don’t want note that too!

If you are in a hospital always ask your nurse for help with things like this.  They are used to herding people out of rooms and often will be on your side quoting things like “she needs to rest” and even getting less polite when need arises.  So feel free to ask for help. 

Can my other child attend the delivery?

This is one of those things that can vary widley by location.  

I’ve heard some hospitals permit it if the child attends a class before hand about being in a delivery room.  And other hospitals flat out ban them.

I know some midwives who encourage the other children in the family to be present.  

The big keys here are what do you really want with this one?  And what does your birth location permit?  You also should think about the impact of what your child will see in the delivery.  If you are like me and tend to go very deep into yourself you won’t be able to enjoy having your kiddo there and they may even be a distraction in the process.

But that doesn’t address how the child will handle seeing you go through this, if you are screaming in pain will they be able to handle that?  If you are having a pain free experience but unable to talk to them or connect with them there could be implications there too.

Just keep in mind that if there is an emergency in all likelyhood the child will need to leave right away and that could mean your partner too if there is no one else to take care of them.  

Our choices around how to labor and deliver our babies can be affected by the opinions of others expecially the ones we ask to witness the birth.  Here are my best tips on how to choose who joins you in the delivery room so you have the experience you want.
Photo credit: theogeo on VisualHunt / CC BY

How many people can come to a C-section?

If it’s an emergency you may be put under general anethsesia, and in that case no one else is usually in the room.  Planned c-sections are a bit different so check with your location on their rules.  But normally a husband/partner/support person will be permited. 

Related: The Suprising Truth About the Pain of Childbirth

Who should I tell to NOT come?

Anyone who is sick should stay away from you and baby untill they are better.  Not just in the hospital but after you get home too.  

I’d also recomend that any kids not living with you don’t visit you in hospital or for the first couple of weeks, they tend to carry more germs then most adults and you don’t want to make your newborn ill. 

Outside of that you likely won’t want your “super-chatty relatives or friends” chances are if they are always chatty that isn’t going to stop.  And when you are in labor it can be distracting in a bad way.  No matter how awesome your feelings are for them if they go on and on and on and on about some TV show for hours on end, you’re likely going to want them gone pretty quick.

Anyone who is squeamish, if they have a hard time with blood or can’t handle the thought of you in pain chances are they won’t be any help. And they may even cause more work for the medical team if they pass out.  Just explain nicely that you want their support and it would be great if they could help with this Other Very Important Task.

Your #socialmedia #obsesses #friend.  You know who I’m talking about, she’s the one that is checking in at the restaurant, or event you’re at usually before you even get your seats.  And normally that’s fine, but when your naked, sweating, panting and working your but off to get this baby out do you really want her posting selfies with you in the background?  Are you really ok with the fact that she will likely upload the first photos of your baby unedited and unaproved before you do?  And do you really want all her followers to know all the details of your labour or delivery?  (Seriously I know one woman who posted when her water broke and how many #centimetersdilated she was every hour or when there was an update.  No way in heck I was having her document my baby’s journy into the world in front of the whole world. 

Your well-meaning (but overbearing) realative. This one coule be your Mom, or Dad, or an Aunt or Grandma, no matter who it is they are going to want to sit there and squeeze your hand and tell you how great a job you are doing.  Which is good until you consider your partner and the fact that they are likely feeling a bit left out and need to do that to have the chance to feel like they are supporting you.  I doubt your man is excited about anyone taking over his role during the delivery no matter how close you are to them. 

The grumpy Nurse. Everyone has bad days and nurses are no exception.  While you may be handling one that has just seen a horrible loss or is just having a bad day all around.  You don’t need to subject yourself to anyone with the grumps while you labor.  Just ask if you can see a supervisor and gently suggest that while you are sure they are great as a nurse you are not “clicking” with Nurse grumps-a-lot and if possible could you be switched with someone else?  Many times they will do what they can, but keep in mind that if you get shot down all hospitals work in shifts so chances are you will not have them the whole time.

In the delivery room you will have medical staff supporting your journey to meeting your baby... but will you have any invited visitors to baby's big debut?  Here are the top tips on how to choose who is in the delivery room with you.
Photo by Luis Melendez on Unsplash

What Medical Staff will be in the delivery room?

This can vary from location to location.  For instance when I toured a local hospital for our first delivery I was advised to expect 2 nurses for the labor, and a doctor would come the “catch” baby during the delivery. 

Our Midwives told us to expect 2 midwives, and whom ever we invited. As we were delivering at the birth centre we were also to expect that ambulance attendants could be included if there was an emergency or we needed transport and that if transported we could expect up to 5 medical profesionals to meet us at the hospital. 

I would suggest asking your care provider what the norm is in your area.  At least then you know what to expect.

Who was in your delivery room?

For Mr. B. and I, we just had our Midwife and Doula in the room with us.  Lots of reasons but mostly because that was how I felt the most comfortable.  

Come to think of it, I belive that there were 2 midwives I just really don’t remember the second one.

Sure there were other people that looking back I think would have enjoyed the bonding and time with us, but this was really about what I wanted and it was how I felt comfortable welcoming our Little G into the world. 

Right now Mr. B. and I are debating on who will be in with us for then next one, for sure we will have our doula again (happily our first one has said she would love to be there for us) and the debate is going on over wether or not little G will be there to provide a Big Brother Welcome or not.  

Who did you have in the delivery room? 

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