In-laws in the delivery suite
Who do you and your partner want in the delivery room? It’s surprising just how charged and tribal this question can get.
In fact, it can precipitate all kinds of family feuds which can see in-laws pitted against each other, grandparents feeling excluded and underappreciated and parents-to-be beside themselves with stress and worry at a time when what they need more than anything is calm and relaxation.
But what do you do if your partner wants additional people in the delivery room – perhaps her mother and her sister – and you don’t?
After all, you’re the father of the baby and it is your special time too. Sure, you won’t be the one on all fours pushing a baby out, but you too are entitled to some level of privacy and your wishes should not be discarded altogether.
What does she really want?
Sometimes people in families have a hard time speaking up and being heard. If your partner says that she feels she “should” have her mother and/or sister in the delivery room, be sure to gently check with her that this is what she really wants.
So often, people act out of a feeling of obligation or a desire not to offend. The birth is yours and your partner’s time and should really be about what the two of you want. Be sure to discuss the issue in private, away from the added pressure of overeager family members.
Ultimately, if your partner has any margin of doubt about additional family members being in the delivery room, then these people probably shouldn’t be there, no matter how much they want to be and no matter how much she feels she “should” invite them in.
Having said that, Mum’s and daughters often have “special” bonds and the feeling that a woman wants her mum with her at such a fundamentally momentous time in her life can be overwhelming – while for you, it may feel a bit strange.
If your partner feels strongly about Mum being present, it would probably be unwise to challenge this. However, perhaps you can all sit down before labour day and make some plans. Perhaps Mum will be present right up to the final big push, as an extra cheerleader perhaps, leaving you and your partner to experience the actual birth alone as a couple (but with the medical staff of course). Or you could agree that Mum will leave the delivery room if your partner says that’s what she wants during the labour.
Your partner needs to feel relaxed about her decisions, and by talking about them, you can make sure that everyone knows who’s boss in the delivery room.
Relaxation is key
In fact, being relaxed is the key to a good labour and delivery. This, together with a private, calm, safe, non-judgmental environment that is not overly lit (you can ask your midwife to dim the lights), is the perfect recipe for a successful birth experience. These factors promote the production of the birth hormone oxytocin, which will ensure that your partner’s cervix is soft, dilated and primed to deliver the baby.
Having additional people in the room can increase anxiety and feelings of self-consciousness while reducing privacy – all things which can make for a slower and more painful birth.
The question of guests
For a lot of non-modern cultures birth is a woman’s business and men are not particularly involved. It may not suit you, but having her sister or mother there may be what your partner needs and it may tap into ancient rites
So, if your partner really wants it, there may be a place for her mum OR her sister in the room (NHS hospitals typically allow only two birth partners and only one for a C-section).
So, the key is to talk about it, all of you, including the other birth partner, beforehand. If your partner wants another person with her during birth, other than you, you may simply have to accept it. She may change her mind on the day (and the other person will simply have to accept that as well). The bottom line is this: your partner is attempting to bring new life into the world – what she wants, she gets!