You are likely already expecting your close friends and family to be ready to visit soon after the baby arrives, but as you near the end of your pregnancy, it’s a good idea to also think about your preferences of who is in the room during delivery.
If you’re a first-time mom, you may be unsure about what to expect from your delivery—and for good reason. Several things can happen during labor that can change the delivery method or birth process you originally had in mind. For some, having parents and your partner and maybe even a sibling will help to relax you, while others may be overwhelmed by the idea of that many people in the room with you. No matter how you feel about it, it’s important to let all those close to you know your decision beforehand so you don’t get stuck in a situation that isn’t right for you.
To decide who is in the room during delivery, you’ll want to consider a few important things.
1. Your Comfort Level
Remember that during labor, you are likely to be dressed in only a hospital gown (unless you choose to wear something else) that is often skimpy and is pulled aside for different procedures, leaving you exposed for a majority of the time—not to mention the actual birth, where you will be very, very exposed! Keep this in mind before inviting your father-in-law into the room for the birth (unless, of course, you are comfortable with that).
Aside from the physicality, consider your emotional comfort levels. Labor and birth require you to produce oxytocin–the relaxing, love hormone! If your sister makes you anxious, it may be best to have her wait outside until after the baby is born to ensure you are truly calm the entire time.
Always know that it’s okay to have just you and your spouse in the room—or just you, alone, if you prefer it that way—the most important thing is that you are comfortable during the entire process, your family will understand.
2. Your Hospital’s Limit
If you’re planning to birth in a hospital, consider that many hospitals actually put a limit on the number of people who can be in the room during labor and delivery. Often, this limit is two people (your partner + 1), but your hospital may be stricter or more lenient. Before you begin letting others know who can and cannot be there with you, check with your hospital about their policy. Hospital policies are put in place to ensure that the nurses and doctors have enough room to care for you and your baby, so it’s important to follow their protocol to ensure a smooth process.
3. Your Doula or Photographer
Do you have a doula? Are you having a birth photographer take photos during your labor and delivery? If so, you’ll need to consider this when choosing who is in the room. Your doula will want to make sure she is as close to you as possible, which means you may not want your hovering mother-in-law to be in the way of her working. If a photographer is there, they’ll need as much room as they can get to take the best photos, so fewer people in the room may be a good idea. Ask your hired professionals their feelings on guests in the room and how they handle a larger-than-average crowd if that’s something you want.
4. Have a Backup Plan
You may have imagined you and your partner in the room alone. But if you go into labor suddenly and your partner can’t be there right away, make sure there is someone else you feel comfortable with who can take their place until they arrive.
Or maybe you imagine laboring just the two of you, but halfway through you really want your mom. Or perhaps your labor is long and your partner needs someone to step in and support you while he gets a snack or takes a short nap.
Explain to your family and friends early on that they will only be in the room on an as-need basis, but that you’d like them to be available.
So, how, exactly, can you tell those you love that you don’t want them in the room?
This can be a tricky situation. Many in-laws and parents will simply assume that they will be there during the birth. To avoid any last-minute drama in the delivery room, speak with each of them beforehand explaining your desires. A mother-in-law may be hurt to find out that your mom is invited and she isn’t. Simply explain that there just can’t be too many people in the room and she is more than welcome to wait in the waiting room and meet the baby as soon as she is born. Being open and honest is the best way to handle these situations. Always remember, at the end of the day, it is you and your baby who is most important, and this decision is yours and yours alone.