Delivery Room Visits Dilemma

Your baby’s arrival is just around the corner. You’re flooded with excitement, pangs of anxiety and requests from loved ones for an invitation into the delivery room.

Would mom help or hinder your birthing experience? Would Aunt Ida pile on stress with her eccentric chanting while you push? Should your best friend come in to take pictures? Whose presence would be most soothing as you welcome your baby into the world?

Some moms-to-be want to be surrounded by loved ones, and even live-tweet their progress between contractions. Others prefer a quiet, private experience, accompanied only by their spouse and medical team.

Kathy Ryan, clinical coordinator for the Monogram Maternity program at St. Vincent, helps mothers personalize their birth plan. “Some women say, ‘Oh, my mom will be great!’ Others say, ‘Oh, my mom will make me so nervous!’ Others don’t think about visitors until their delivery day and realize, “Oh, gosh, if my aunt is in the room I’ll go crazy,’” says Ryan.

Whatever your preferences, having a birth plan and those conversations ahead of time can help ensure a smooth, satisfying delivery.

Visitor-induced stress can be avoided by following these steps:
  • -Inquire whether your hospital has restrictions on the number of guests allowed in the delivery room. Some hospitals allow only a spouse and one additional person, while others have no limits.
  • -Stress can stall labor, and it’s important that visitors know their role is to support you. If you’re worried about entertaining guests, you won’t be able to focus on delivering your baby.
  • -Define roles for each visitor. If you want your spouse to have a front-row seat but keep your mother-in-law and best friend above the sheet, make those wishes known. Also clarify whether visitors can photograph the delivery.
  • -It’s okay to change your mind. It’s your birthing experience, and you call the shots on who is (or isn’t) welcome to watch.

In all, the goal is to keep impromptu or unwelcome companions from dialing up the stress in the delivery room and draining the joy out of your birthing experience.

Sure, some loved ones may not be pleased with being left out of the delivery room. In those cases, Ryan is happy to take the blame and manage that conversation. “I can talk to them because I don’t have to sit with them at Thanksgiving,” she says. “Most families understand that we want our patients to have the best experience, and stress should not be a part of that.”

Plus, there are other ways to involve visitors without bringing them into the delivery room. “There’s labor and birth: two different things,” Ryan explains. Visitors can help during labor and not be involved during birth.

Along those lines, it’s helpful to give a task to each visitor, like helping with relief techniques during labor. “We give them ideas on how to be helpful because it’s an anxious time and they don’t know what to do with themselves,” says Ryan.

Your family and friends are excited to meet your baby. Early planning can clarify expectations, eliminate stress and avoid hurt feelings of last-minute delivery room visits. The sooner you define your birth plan, the more satisfying your experience will be.

“It’s your day,” Ryan concludes. “This has to work for you.”

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Indy's Child
Indy's Child
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