Dear Amanda and Suzanne:
I am six months pregnant with my third child — a girl. Every time I’ve delivered, it’s been just my husband and me in the birthing suite. He’s a good coach, both attentive and calming.
This time around, I’d like to ask my mother and my best friend to be there as I go through labor and when I deliver my daughter. It has nothing to do with my husband, I just know that they would love to be there as much as I would love having them. It would be something that we would all always remember.
Hubby gets along just fine with my mom and BF, but he’s objecting my idea, saying that it would take away from the specialness of the moment for him and that he’s not entirely comfortable with having other people there.
Since I’m the one doing all the work, isn’t this my call? It’s not like he’s never been in the room before. I don’t understand what the big deal is. I’d love to get another opinion.
–Labor Loves Company
AMANDA: If it was me, I’d abide by my husband’s wishes. Yes, usually the pregnant mama gets to call all the shots, but it is his baby too, and certainly this will be one of the most important moments in his life as a father, a husband and a person — even if he’s done it twice before.
Having said that, I’d like to know why your husband is objecting. Personally, I’m in the “no guests” camp when it comes to labor and delivery — mostly from a modesty standpoint, but I like keeping the experience between my husband and I. Does he want this to be a special moment between just the two (three) of you? Does he have medical concerns? Is he not a big a fan of your mom and bestie as you think?
I think there is a way to compromise though if you are really insisting on having them there. You could either have them stay until a certain point — say until it is time to push, or have them come in when you are about to, depending on what your husband would prefer. That way you still get to hear them cheering them on, and he gets to spend the majority of this moment alone with you.
In any case, I think a conversation is in order.
SUZANNE: If you watch any number of birth stories on TV, you might just begin to think that tickets are being sold at the door to labor and delivery. Two by two, the expectant mother’s whole family (brothers, cousins, aunts, and even the mother- and father-in-law) shows up and stays right there at the foot of the bed to watch the blessed event.
Now I’m all about doing up birthday parties in a big way, but that very first one — the day your child enters the world — is best kept a private affair in my opinion. Not to mention your husband’s from what I gather.
While your two extra guests certainly don’t constitute a crowd, you might just try to come up with another way to involve them and respect your husband’s feelings at the same time. Amanda suggested a great compromise, and one that might satisfy everyone’s expectations for the big day.
If you have your mom and best friend join you and your husband during the early phases of labor, be sure to set some ground rules with them in advance. If he wants to be the one to guide you through your breathing techniques or be the only one at your side during the internal exams, then prepare them in advance to heed those wishes. You will still have plenty of time for joking around, watching mindless TV together, or whatever it is that you feel up to in the time between 0 and 8 centimeters.
When the staff says it’s go-time, your invited guests will have to know that it’s time to make their exits (as gracefully as possible, without having to be pulled out of the room by a nurse) and wait for word to come back in at whatever point you and your husband have agreed upon (as soon as they hear baby’s cries, when a few minutes have passed and he comes out to get them, or even when you’re all back in order and have the baby at your chest).
In the end, your mom and friend will still be among the first to celebrate baby’s arrival with you and your husband, and will no doubt be honored to have had backstage passes — even if they didn’t get to sing with the band.
When you delivered your baby (or your spouse did) who was in the room? Have you ever witnessed a baby being born that wasn’t your own?
If you have a problem that needs two opinions, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.