There are many topics to address regarding friends and family during labor. When to tell them, who you want there during delivery, and if you want visitors while at the hospital after your baby is born.
You are excited, you are about to have a baby! You want to tell everyone right away, but do you?
Telling Friends and Family You Are in Labor
Of course, if you want to tell your friends and family right away you should! But there are a few things you may want to think about before sending that text or making that phone call. What if it’s a false alarm and the hospital sends you home? What if you get admitted to the hospital and labor progresses slowly? Then you have friends and family who may be texting you asking what is going on and if you have a baby yet. If labor takes a really long time you may start getting the calls of concern wondering if everything is okay with you and the baby. Do you want to deal with all those distractions while in labor? If you still want to share the excitement with your friends and family, make sure you set boundaries. Let them know not to contact you with a million questions and to wait until they get a text or call update from you before reaching out again. Make sure they know you aren’t going to forget to let them know when the baby is born, but that until then you need to focus on the difficult job of laboring and delivering your baby without distractions. Also, if you don’t want them at the hospital, make sure you are clear about this when you let them know you are in labor – you don’t want them to just show up. Maybe you want to wait until you start pushing to let family know, or wait until the baby is born. If you wait until just after your baby is born keep in mind you may be responding to hundreds of text messages and phone calls during the golden hour of bonding instead of bonding. Consider waiting until after you’ve had a chance to bond as a new family before calling and texting everyone the happy news.
This also applies to social media. If you post to social media before the baby is born, be prepared for the onslaught of messages. If you do decide to post, consider turning off the notifications for that app. And make sure you are clear with friends and family about whether or not you are okay with them posting the happy news to social media, or if you want them to wait for you to post first. In the excitement of the moment they may not think about it before posting!
Who Do You Want in the Room With You?
Do you want your whole family with you? Just your husband? Do you want a doula? If you don’t want them in the room, do you want them at home or in the waiting room? If you want friends and family in the labor room with you, make sure you consider the following. Are you comfortable peeing, pooping, passing gas, vomiting, crying, moaning, sweating, screaming, and possibly swearing in front of them? All of these might happen during labor - in the middle of the room, not in the privacy of the bathroom. If you are not comfortable doing all these things in front of that person, think about asking them to wait in the waiting room.
If they are invited in the labor room and you are worrying about doing something embarrassing in front of them, you will tense up and your body will be working against itself. During labor, you need to be relaxed and allow your body to open and let your baby out. If you are worrying about passing gas, or pooping, in front of family you won’t be able to relax.
If you still want them in the room, what do you expect from them? Make sure you are clear ahead of time if you are looking for silent support, hands on support, or talking. Some people can feel awkward sitting in silence and feel the need to fill it. When you are having contractions, people talking to or around you can be very distracting and frustrating. If you think this may be the case, ask them not to talk to or around you during contractions. Make sure you are also clear that you may change your mind during labor and ask some or all of them to leave.
Have you and your husband talked about how he will be supporting you during labor? If not, consider making that plan now. Unsure what support you may need during labor or how your partner can provide support? Contact a doula. That is what we are there for! We help guide your husband, partner, or family members in the best ways to support you and lend a hand ourselves as well. If you don’t want friends and family in the room, think about having them wait in the waiting room. However, you never know how long labor may take - so unless they insist, they may be more comfortable at home. If they really want to be a part of the excitement, ask them to stop by your home to help out with pets, older siblings, tidying up, or preparing some meals for when you get home.
Another thing to consider is having friends and family visit during early labor with the understanding that they will leave when things start to get tough or you ask them to.
Keep in mind, some hospitals put a limit on the number of people allowed in the labor room and some even have visiting hours. So make sure you check with your hospital to see what their policy is if you plan on inviting more than just your partner to be there with you. They may also enforce age limits for visitors, so make sure you ask before inviting anyone with children, or before bringing any of your own.
Visitors at the Hospital
After the baby is born many friends and family will of course want to meet your new baby. Many of them will patiently wait to be invited, but others may invite themselves. At the hospital you are going to be exhausted, wanting to rest and bond with your baby – in addition to recovering and figuring out breastfeeding. You may want the distraction of company, and the excitement that is there when they meet your baby for the first time. Just make sure you ask them to come between nursing sessions or let them know that you may need to breastfeed your baby while they are there. They can stay or leave while you feed your baby – whatever you and they are comfortable with. If visitors at the hospital sounds overwhelming, just let your friends and family know you won’t be seeing visitors until you get home, or until after the first week, or some other time-frame that makes you comfortable. The first few weeks after your baby is born can be a special and yet overwhelming time. You may want that time to be alone to bond and figure out how your new baby will fit into your family routine, or you may want the extra hands and help that friends and family would provide. Just remember, those first few weeks you need to take things easy so your body has time to recover and you can figure out how to breastfeed your tiny new baby.
No matter when you decide to announce you are in labor, or just had your baby, or if you want guests during or after labor, make sure you allow yourself to say ‘No’ and to change your mind. This is a special day that you will remember for forever, do what feels best for you.
Did you invite friends and family to the hospital during or after labor? If family came during labor, did they stay in the waiting room or join you in your room?
Next week I will be blogging on the letter G… G is for Group B Streptococcus (GBS).