At some point in your pregnancy, you will need to decide who will be present at the birth. This can vary from just the couple to a room full of family and friends. Don’t be surprised if friends and family members have strong opinions on this subject. They may voice them loudly, particularly if their ideas differ from yours.
How do you feel about company in the delivery room? Are you the type of person who craves support from extended family or close friends? Do you prefer to be alone with your partner to welcome your baby into the world? Would you feel better or annoyed by your mother or mother in law in the room? The answers to these questions will help you make your decision.
The next step is to discuss the issue with your husband or partner. How does he feel about people at the birth? Some men like the idea of having a mother, sister or friend there. This can take the pressure off dad, especially if he’s never witnessed a birth before. On the other hand, some men feel it is their job to support and comfort their wives in labor. These fathers often pour over the books on labor and birth during the pregnancy.
How many people can be present will depend on where your baby will be born. In general, there is more flexibility at a birthing center or at a home birth than there is in a hospital setting. Some hospitals are very flexible, but most have strict guidelines about the delivery room and who can be present. Call the place where you will be giving birth to find out their policies.
You will need to discuss this subject with your health care provider. He or she may have rules or preferences about the number of people present in the delivery room. In general, midwives tend to be more flexible and welcome family and friends at the birth. Their philosophy is often that birth is a family event. Doctors tend to prefer fewer people in the room. Some only allow the husband and one other support person.
Consider the atmosphere you want at your birth. When I was pregnant with my first, my midwife told me of a birth where 25 family members and friends were in the room. She described the scene and it sounded like a circus. She told me that she could barely move in the room. I knew immediately that I didn’t want anything like that!
In the end, I decided that I only wanted my husband with me during labor. When the first was born, my mother in law and sister in law and one friend were at the hospital. My friend left just before the birth to pick up my mom at the airport. I kicked the others out just before it was time to push. I wasn’t comfortable with them in the room and really wanted the first few moments to be just the three of us, bonding as a new family.
In the end, the decision is yours and yours alone. You can always switch care providers or hospitals, if they don’t mesh with what you want for your birth. This is your birth and your baby, so do whatever feels right and will work for you.