Who you choose to invite in to your labor and delivery room can affect your entire childbirth experience.
Notice that word, CHOOSE? Yup, that's right. You have the right to choose who surrounds you during this intimate moment in your life. Why? Because: THIS IS YOUR BODY, BIRTH & BABY [[ and your vagina]]! I know, I know... telling that to your _______ [ best friend, mother- in-law, mom, etc.] might be easier said than done. Not granting them VIP access to the big show can understandably be a little stressful. Especially if you are a non-confrontational, people-pleaser like myself.
To help you feel more confident about the decision of who you should and shouldn't give an invite to, ponder the following questions:
Does this person:
Support my birth plan?
I'm no yoga master- but a little positive energy goes a long way. Being surrounded by people who support your goals is important for a positive experience. It can be very difficult to focus on contractions when your Mother-in law is telling you to just get the epidural already or bragging about the ease of her birth.
Feel comfortable seeing me in pain?
While no one should *enjoy* seeing you in pain, your birth team should be comfortable with the process. Childbirth is a pain our bodies were designed for. We were not built for broken bones & sprained ankles... But, Childbirth? Yup, you were made for it. Evaluate your birth audience and make sure each person will be able to tolerate seeing you in pain and keep their composure.
Encourage me and make me feel safe?
Mental blocks can negatively affect the progression of your labor. Spectators should be encouraging you, complimenting your efforts rather than making jokes about your reaction to labor--- these are all so important! You deserve to have your baby as calmly [ or not so calmly] as your intuition tells you to. If you do not imagine that you will feel comfortable to be what you need to be during labor and delivery, give this person a front row seat in the waiting room. Making loud, animal like noises can make contractions more tolerable--- holding them in because you are worried what your audience will think can make them worse.
Know when to be quiet?
Want to be spared the aftermath of telling someone to SHUTUP? Choose a birth audience who knows when to be quiet. No one wants to have contractions while listening to someone talk about when their next Target credit card payment is due or how much Kohl's cash they have racked up.
Respect my partner?
While it is your body and physical experience on display- this is a big day for Dad too. If there is tension between him and a friend or family member, try having an open discussion with him about how that might affect him on birthing day. If he is worried about the tension and trying to avoid further conflict, he may not be emotionally available to be completely present during this experience.
Respect my privacy?
If you don't want all of Facebook to know how dilated your cervix is, make sure your birth audience will respect your privacy wishes. Getting to make social media announcements and texts/calls about your experience and new baby is an honor for YOU. Make your privacy wishes known and choose supporters who will respect them.