As you prepare for the birth of your child, one very important thing to consider is how you will protect your birthing environment. This is important because labor can only progress unhindered when the laboring woman feels safe and at ease in her birthing space.
Unfortunately, there are many things that can signal to a new mother’s body that labor should be stalled. Some examples of these things are:
The presence of individuals the mother is not fully comfortable with.
Too many people in her birth space.
Loved ones (close or otherwise) who are being disruptive in some way.
Stalled or slowed labor is something to be avoided due to an increased risk of interventions. Therefore, it is crucial that expectant mothers carefully pick and choose who is allowed in their birthing room.
For many women this is a difficult task. After all, there is always the risk of hurting the feelings of a well-meaning friend or family member. However, the most important thing to take into consideration when choosing those people who will be allowed in are the feelings of the mother.
If you are having trouble deciding who should be allowed, consider the following.
DO NOT ALLOW...
Too much noise is distracting for the laboring mother. Therefore, people who tend to bring a lot of noise with them wherever they go probably should not be invited to the labor party. After all, a woman who is going through transition is probably not going to want to listen to an obnoxious phone conversation as she awaits the next surge.
Another huge distraction during labor—as well as something that’s sure to make the new mother feel insecure—is drama. If there are certain family members or friends in your life who tend to cause drama, avoid allowing them into the room during labor. The gossip and jealousy can wait until after baby arrives.
Overly Opinionated Individuals
Unfortunately, there are some kinds of people who just don't get that this is your labor and delivery, and yours alone. These people have strong opinions on just about everything, and they do not hesitate to share those opinions. Overly opinionated people are likely to shame a laboring woman for her birthing choices and make her feel vulnerable and self-conscious.
Those Who Are Not Close
Acquaintances and Aunt Sally that you met once have no place in the delivery room. This is true no matter how much someone else may want you to believe otherwise. If you are not comfortable with a person seeing you naked, you probably aren't going to feel great about them hanging around while you give birth.
Anyone for the Sake of Feelings
Nobody’s feelings trump those of the laboring mother. If the mama would like her sister in the room, but not her mother, that is perfectly acceptable and completely up to her. No one should ever be allowed in the birthing space purely to spare their feelings, even if that means patching things up at a later date.
Respectful individuals who are extremely close friends or family, and who the mama to be would like in the room.
Typically, these people are partners, mothers, mothers-in-law, sisters, best friends, and of course, doulas and midwives or doctors. That said, all of the people listed absolutely do not have to be included, and many women choose to allow only their doula, caregiver, and partner in the room.
During the birth:
A mother definitely needs to have the freedom to choose who is in her birthing space. These choices must be made with much thought, and everyone involved should know and understand the decisions that are made before labor ever begins. This will decrease the chance of a miscommunication or dramatic event happening just before or during labor, a time that should be kept as calm and sacred as possible.
That said, sometimes even when there are very firm and clear boundaries put into place, people will test those boundaries by showing up at the birthing location. In these cases, it is important that members of the birth team know who is and who isn’t allowed in the birth room, so they can politely refuse entry to anyone who hasn’t been invited. This should be done as quietly and as calmly as possible so as not to disturb the natural progress of labor.
If a pregnant woman believes certain family members will ignore her wishes, she may exercise her freedom to not call anyone when labor begins and avoid such a situation entirely.
Clearly, protecting your birth space takes a bit of foresight and planning. However, it is a job that is well-rewarded in the end. If you haven’t already, now is the time to begin considering who you would like to include in your laboring experience. After all, it is never too soon to begin planning for the life-changing event of welcoming your little one earthside.