Who should I allow in my birth space?
Eventually, every woman has to make the decision of whom she wants to allow in her birth space, whether it be at home, in a birth center or at a hospital. However, some women struggle with a multitude of factors. For instance, perhaps they want their partner, mother and sister present, along with a birth photographer. But, then you also have to factor in the medical staff; you are likely going to have a midwife or physician present, and possibly multiple nurses or assistants and before you know it, you have ten people in the room, during one of the most intimate experiences you will ever encounter!
Some mothers decide to have even more people present at their birth; so what are some of the downsides to this? Well, for one, it can be distracting. Sometimes, with all of the excitement, people forget that labor is really hard work, and that the mother is trying to focus. Additionally, having too many people in the room can often stall labor if the mother is too stressed. Or, in cases with more modest women, they are too shy to feel comfortable with letting go, making noise, etc.
I recently listened to a podcast about a mother that wanted her father to be present. During her labor, she didn’t seem to be progressing and so the doula asked the father to step out of the room for a bit, and the moment he did, the mother was able to relax fully and her labor immediately started back up again. Although you may not realize that you are uncomfortable, you may be subconsciously hindering your labor progress by allowing certain people in the room. When deciding whom to have at your birth, make sure you have a conversation with them. Educate them about the ways that you like to be supported when in pain, and remind them that those could change when you’re actually in the thralls of labor!
You also want to make sure that they are either contributing to making your birthing process better (i.e. by acting as your doula, cleaning the house to prepare for baby if you’re birthing at home, etc.) or they are leaving it alone altogether so as not to interfere. Also try to help them to understand that they may be asked to leave if you or someone close to you feels they are hindering your labor. If this is the case, they may be hurt or offended, but just need to be reminded that it is likely not about them and that women can be extremely sensitive during labor; sometimes, they even push their own partners away!
Lastly, it is important to talk to your midwife, doula or primary care provider about who you intend to have present; have a conversation with them and decide if you want to give them the responsibility of asking someone to leave the room if they are disturbing you. This can also be the responsibility of your partner; don’t assume that you’ll be in a position to ask someone to leave, and make sure that someone close to you can directly attend to your needs.