It comes from a good place. I recognize that. But one of the hardest conversations I have as a doula is when well-intended parents/in-laws/friends/family want to attend the birth and mom is hesitant but worried about making waves.
Their desire to attend the birth truly comes from a place of love and excitement, but what they don't realize is the more people at a birth, the less the mama will be able to relax during labor. This increases stress hormones, pain, the length of labor, and decreases her ability to cope.
Here are five solid reasons you can give when discussing why you want to limit the amount of people at the birth.
1. Because you said so, dammit! Okay, so I couldn't find a study to back up this reason. But let's be real for a minute. This birth experience is about you, your partner, and your new baby. It doesn't matter WHAT the reason is! Only people you truly want in attendance should be there.
4. Labor hormones are orgasm hormones. Oxytocin and endorphins are the key players on the hormone team during labor and birth. These are the same hormones your brain releases during an orgasm. Think about the environment that you require for the latter to happen. Likely you need dim lights, soft music is nice, and privacy with your partner. Birth should be treated as an intimate experience as well, to help support the hormonal responses needed.
5. You can't even have a conversation with your toddler present. Just trying to relay basic information to another adult is near impossible with the noise-pollution provided by a toddler. Now, let's close our eyes and imagine labor... we feel the gentle pressure rise as our surge builds... we breathe deeply allow all tension to exit our body with our breath... our surge builds and you begin to rock... and.. POW your leg is grabbed by an exited toddler screaming "MAMA! PAW PATROL. I watch Paw Patrol." and now you've lost any semblance of focus. I would like the record to show many women have given birth with their toddlers present and LOVED every minute of it. But before you do, check this out...
Now, if after reading this and you close your eyes and your perfect birth includes your partner, your doula, your birth photographer, your mom, your mother-in-law, your best friend, your baby sister and that, to you, feels like the safest, most serene environment you can imagine GO FOR IT, GIRLFRIEND!
Just keep these few things in mind:
Give everyone a job. If you're there, you have a purpose. Who is on snack/water duty ensuring water bottles are filled and everyone is fed? Everyone will know how to work the sink attachment to fill the birth tub right? Someone is specifically on toddler duty? Who is manning the camera?
My advice for those attending a birth? Know how to do a double hip squeeze and know when not to speak (which is most of the time).
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