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Who do you invite with you to the labor and delivery room?

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Updated January 27, 2014

Family in the Delivery Room

Who you invite to your birth does matter.

Photo © Juan Silva/Getty Images

Professional Care for Birth:

The professionals that attend you during your labor and birth can be many. You may come across a variety of people who help in in some form or another:

  • doctor or midwife
  • nurses (multiple depending on shift)
  • laboratory workers for blood work
  • admissions clerk or unit secretary
  • anesthesiologist
  • neonatologist or pediatrician

And that's just on the labor and delivery side of things! You will be able to have a say about student nurses and doctors involved in your care.

More on who's who in the delivery room.

Husbands, Partners and Boyfriends - Oh my!:

Okay, so the old joke is that any man in the delivery room is bound to pass out. This is something that might be worrying either you or them. I have personally never seen a man who passed out or even came close. The closest was a guy who got dizzy when he smelled blood. We just had him go get a coke for the placenta delivery. If your guy is worried, simply prepare him by taking childbirth classes, hiring a doula and avoiding TV births! You will also want to ask how many people you can have in the delivery room.

Dads in the Delivery Room Quiz | More on helping a woman in labor.

Mother Versus Mother-in-Law:

So you might want your mom there, but you might not. This is a decision that you have to make with your partner, though you always get the final say. Basically, if you feel uncomfortable, it will impact your labor negatively. This brings me to your mother-in-law... unless you have a really, really good relationship with her - don't even think about it! Family drama does not belong in the labor room. And just because you don't think you have drama - don't kid yourself.

More on telling your mother-in-law she's not invited...

Other Family Members:

Having your older children at a birth is a very personal decision. You should consider the following:

  • their age
  • whether they want to be there
  • are they prepared
  • do they have their own support system

Other family members who might be interested in coming to the birth. This could be fathers, grandparents, aunts, etc. Each should be considered individually.

More on children at birth.

Your Friends:

Friends can be a real blessing at a birth. The relationship is already there and she might even have some prior experience with her own births. This can be a great thing, if she agrees with your philosophy of birth.

If she has questions about how your birth plan is laid out, or if she doesn't have any birth experience, bring her to a childbirth class with you.

Doulas and Childbirth Educators:

Many women choose to invite a professional labor supporter to their births. Studies have shown that doulas can help decrease labor interventions.

Childbirth educators are also good invites. You have a relationship and they have knowledge of birth and your wishes. Childbirth educators may or may not have any first hand experience assisting at a birth.

More about professional labor support.

Making the Invitation:

Before you make the invitation to your birth consider some of the following:

  • Does your place of birth have a policy for the number of people allowed in the room?

  • What does your husband think of this person?

  • Do you have a specific job for the person to do?

  • Will this person support your decisions?

  • Does this person bring a special talent or gift?

  • Does the person want to be there?

I'd recommend that you talk to them in person when you make the invitation. Let them know why you've invited them. Tell them what they bring and know that they can still say no. Be prepared to give them time to answer.

When Someone Invites Themselves:

Sometimes, someone just assumes that they are invited. Perhaps its someone in your family or his or maybe even a friend who came to a previous birth that you don't intend to invite back. You may notice that they start talking about plans for your birth and include themselves or they may just say something directly to you.

If this is not someone you want to invite to your birth, say so now. The longer you let it go, the worse the hurt feelings in the end. Blame hospital or birth center policy, say you want to be alone - whatever works.

Rescinding an Invite:

Sometimes you've invited someone to the birth and as time goes on you or your partner realize that it was a bad decision or simply that it is no longer the right decision. Rather than let the odd feeling worry you about your birth say something, sooner than later. Explain that you've had a change of heart. There may be hurt feelings, but if you're honest the hurt will go away. New babies have a way of bringing out the best in people.

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