Giving birth is one of the most precious times in our lives. This miracle is one that many women are choosing to share with their families or friends. Having the comforting presence of those you love can enhance the experience and make you feel more relaxed. The problem is that many of the people who are invited have no idea about how to act or behave during this moment of great joy. Here are some ideas of things not
- Get in the way.
Make room! In general try to stay out of the way of the medical staff. If the nurse, midwife or doctor comes in the room to do an exam or talk to the laboring mother, offer to leave the room. If that's not required or requested be sure to move to the outskirts of the room to allow the medical staff access and room to the mom in labor to make their job easier.
- Share too much.
Privacy, please. While it's tempting to go to the waiting room to share every little detail, remember mom may not want every little detail shared. Always ask her before sharing any information, no matter how minute the issue seems.
- Eat in front of mom.
Watch the food! Don't go bring food back to the room. The lingering odors can cause nausea or remind mom that her choices of food are limited. This is cruel and unusual punishment. If you do slip out for food, remember to brush your teeth to remove lingering odors.
- Watch the Monitor.
Watching the monitor is fine to help you get a sense of her labor pattern. You can even ask a nurse, in the hall, to show you how to read the monitor. Be careful about making comments about the contractions, particularly comparing them to other rooms (if you can see other monitors), comparing them to her pain level ("Gee that was a big one!"), and comparing them to each other ("That one wasn't nearly as big as the ones last hour.").
Be mindful and respectful of what the laboring mom needs. If she wants to talk she'll talk. Chances are there will be parts of labor where quiet and darkness are what she needs most. Be respectful of her needs. Avoid unnecessary chatter with others in the room. Bring a book to read in the corner or nap if you can. Also remember that everything you say she will remember in great detail. She is very sensitive at this time and even well meaning jokes may miss their mark. Instead remind her of what a great job she is doing and how you are grateful to have been invited to experience her miracle.
- Take photos mom doesn't want.
While you may want to snap great photos of the on goings of the birth, be sure you have her permission and know the rules of the hospital or birth center. Let her preferences guide your camera's lens.
Steal her thunder!
Be sure to allow the new parents or mom to be able to tell everyone the good news. If you are asked to go fetch someone from the waiting room, play a game and refuse to tell them anything, not even how big the baby is, not even if it's a boy or girl! This allows the new parents to get to see the looks of joy in others faces. The line I always use is, "They'd love you to join them to welcome their baby." Then I tight lip it back to the room with the anxious guest.
Read more: What NOT to Say to a Laboring Woman | What to Say in Labor