Who’s Invited to Your Birth-Day Party?

Who will you invite into the labor and delivery room (or birth center, or home) with you on the big day?

Many women want their partner to join them for birth. Some want their own mothers, or perhaps a sister or close friend. Others may desire a doula, and a few hope their entire family can make it (children included). There are a few things you should consider, though, when deciding who you will invite.

Are you comfortable with this person?

By, “are you comfortable,” I don’t mean whether or not you can easily sit down and have conversation over tea. You have to be able to be really, truly, completely open and relaxed with whoever you will have at your birth. Remember, you will be at least partially nude, possibly throwing up and/or relieving yourself, moving in strange ways, making new sounds, stretched to your physical limits, and emotionally vulnerable. You will be baring your body and your soul at your birth, so make sure you’re ready to do that with whatever company you choose.

Are they helpful?

Will the people at your birth be willing to help out with whatever you need? Your guests should be happy to volunteer to do things like occupying your other children, preparing cold washcloths, helping you move around to different positions, or even just holding your hand. Whetever it is you need, you want to be able to depend on who you’ve brought with you to help. Sometimes nurses or midwives can offer some aid, but they are often busy tending to the medical side of things (which is also needed!).

Do they make you nervous?

This is the absolute LAST thing you want- to have someone there fretting over every contraction, getting more and more worried as you go. You don’t need someone being afraid for you! If your mom or sister or best friend is going to be chewing her nails and telling you every horror story she ever heard, you may not want her company on labor day. Additionally, while it is good to be prepared for a change of plans or an emergency, it usually isn’t helpful to be dreading every possible “what if” of labor. It is possible that the anxiety created by all this worrying develops enough physical tension to make some of your fears (stalled labor, extreme pain, etc.) become self-fulfilling prophecies. Make sure your guests are committed to focusing on the positive and what is going well, rather than on what might possibly go wrong.

Will they help to create a relaxing environment?

You want the least nerve-wracking environment you can have. The more you can relax, the better you will be able to focus and deal with each contraction as it comes. Even if you’re planning on medication, it’s still much better to feel soothed than it is to be nervous about the next stage of labor. One of the things I really appreciated about my midwife was that she stayed in the background, very calm and collected. She checked the baby and I as she needed to, but maintained a sense of being at ease as she did so. Whatever makes you feel most relaxed (soft music, silence, gentle conversation, a nice back rub, etc.), make sure that your guests are willing to contribute to whatever you need at the time.

Will they be supportive of your wishes?

If you’ve made up your mind that you will want some medication once you are in active labor, then you may not want someone there who will pressure you and push you to refuse any drugs. If you want a natural childbirth, then don’t invite someone who’s going to constantly insist, “Why don’t you just get the epidural? Don’t be a martyr!” If you want to avoid Pitocin unless medically necessary, then ask one of your guests to support you in your choice to avoid it so that you don’t cave under pressure. If you’re planning a homebirth, you may not want to invite someone who is against homebirth to your labor and delivery, as their disapproval will certainly permeate the environment. Conversely, if you’re planning a hospital birth, you may not want to invite someone who is extremely anti-hosptial.

Will they be supportive of you?

Most importantly, will the people you invite support you, specifically, in every way they can? Sometimes all you need to make it through is someone telling you that you’re doing great, not to give up, and to keep going. You should feel loved, respected, and encouraged during each stage of your labor and delivery, no matter what your childbirth choices are. Make sure that the people attending your birth will strive to guard your dignity, lavish you with confidence and reassurance, and always be of great strength and comfort to you.

Hopefully these ideas were helpful to you in creating your guest list!

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Love these ideas! I am going to share your post with my readers. 🙂

    I think choosing your care provider is the MOST important choice you make regarding birth.

    http://www.enjoybirth.com/kno-careprovider.html

    Reply

  2. Posted by dac on March 1, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    So many good points. Thanks!

    Reply

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