Giving birth is one of the most beautiful—and stressful—times in a woman’s life.
The moment you go from the positive pregnancy test to pushing, your circle of support is essential. Here’s how to think through who you want by your side:
Plan Ahead for Labor and Delivery
Most women pack a hospital bag and think about what they might need. But it’s important to think about who you need, too.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a lot of friends and family supporting you through the pregnancy, there might be a lot of people who want to be by your side at the hospital.
But labor and delivery is not a spectator sport. It’s okay make choices about who will best serve you and what kind of role they should expect to play in your labor and delivery. That way, they can prepare—and you can, too.
Know the Rules
Many hospitals have visitor limits.
DOES YOUR HOSPITAL HAVE FAMILY BIRTHING ROOMS? IF SO, HOW MANY VISITORS ARE ALLOWED IN?
Make sure you and your family understand the rules. After all, they are in place to keep you and your baby safe.
Take a tour of the birth center to find out what the limit is on visitors and how long they can stay. Start thinking about your team with those details in mind. In many hospital settings, the number is 2 to 4.
So, if you want your child’s father and your mom to be in the delivery room but the limit is 2, you may need to have a conversation with your best friend about how she can support you in a different way.
You don’t want certain folks at the hospital, but they still want to help. Here’s are some suggestions for how the can pitch in:
- Babysitting your older children while you’re in the hospital
- Bringing your favorite foods to the hospital after your baby is born
- Preparing meals for you for when you return home
- Making sure your house is cleaned and the laundry’s done for your return home
- Checking the mail while you’re in the hospital
How to Choose Your Team
When thinking about who you want in the room, remember that you are going to be in a very, um, vulnerable position. You need people who make you feel safe.
These people will see you at your best and your worst. Your bodily functions could be out of control. You may say things you would never usually say. You need to know that whoever is in the room is non-judgmental.
Your privacy is also important. While the medical team will do everything they can to protect you, there’s a chance that people in the room may overhear medical information that you may not want them to know.
Why Does Comfort Matter?
When a woman in labor is feeling stress or tension, it affects her ability to relax.
That stress can stall labor for women who have non-medicated deliveries. For those using an epidural, it can keep them awake when they need to be sleeping.
Remind People That This Is Not A Party
Well-meaning friends and family members may not totally grasp the idea that the labor and delivery process could take many hours. You need people who are going to be focused and there for you the whole time.
Having a bunch of people coming in and out, eating and chatting on their phones will not help you. Anyone who’s not there with a specific way to assist or emotionally support you should consider waiting to visit you until after the baby is born.
Who Not to Bring to the Hospital
In a perfect world, we’d all have great relationships with the father of the child, our parents and extended family. But, be realistic about your situation.
Here’s who not to invite to join you at the hospital:
- Anyone with whom you have friction—today is not the day for family therapy
- Anyone who disagrees with your birth plan. If you want to have a natural birth and your sister is an advocate for medication, leave her home
- Anyone who makes you feel self-conscious. This can include your overly critical in laws or bossy siblings
Use the Nurse as a Buffer
Your nurse or doula can be a huge advocate for you. If you suddenly regret allowing someone to come in with you, tell the nurse.
She can ask that person to step out and handle whatever reactions come from that request. Or she can just make up a vague reason why there need to be fewer people in the room.
You and your baby are the most important people in the room. The staff is there for your health and your baby’s, not to make your aunt feel special.
Remember: This is About You and your baby
You may have some sense about how you deal with stress—and it may be the same on the day you give birth, or it may not. Make sure everyone in the room knows what you need and is willing to adjust if those needs suddenly change.
If you want your back rubbed, ask. If you need water, ask. If you want people to back off and stop touching you and bringing you all that water, say so.
Having a team supporting you through the labor and delivery process can be a huge help—just make sure you have the right people in your corner.