How To Enforce A Delivery Room Guest List

Got a case of pushy in-laws or a sister who absolutely must be there for the big moment? We've got some tips for keeping the delivery room guests to whatever level allows you to do the work of welcoming your new baby into the world.

Delivery room

Photo credit: David J Laporte/Flickr

One thing parents-to-be quickly learn: Everyone has precise ideas for how the whole birth should go down. Family, friends and strangers offer up opinions on incredibly personal decisions, but some go even further — assuming they are entitled to a front-row seat to the birth.

Perhaps their own mothers or mothers-in-law were present. Maybe you even attended your sister's birth. Regardless, your ideal birth differs, and past precedent does not apply. Follow these steps to smooth over the process of telling wannabe spectators a firm nope.

Set boundaries early

Like today early. If you've been pawning this task off on Future You, now is the time to suck it up. Be honest about your reasons — people stress you out, you don't want anyone seeing your bits, you just plain can't deal — but remember you don't owe anyone an explanation to their satisfaction. It doesn't matter a whit if they disagree with why or where you draw your line; their only job is staying on their side of it. Enlist your partner to explain things to that side of the family — all the dirty work shouldn't fall to you, and they will take it better.

Have an advocate

Keep someone in the room to help scare off potential lurkers. This can be your partner, a trusted sibling, a close friend or a doula. You should not have to be the one, mid-contraction, convincing people why you need a break from labor room guests. Seeing your partner's face at regular intervals in the waiting area might be enough to satisfy your loved ones' curiosity.

Let the nurses be the bad guys

Sometimes the hordes will attempt to overpower your advocate, and here is where hospital staff comes into play. Whether or not you write a birth plan, let your nurse know as soon as you arrive — and update the new ones on shift changes — that you want no guests. Nurses have your best interest at heart and won't want you feeling anxious. Let them lie and tell your crowd, "Sorry! Doctor's orders! No guests right now!" Sometimes warnings fall on deaf ears until someone with a medical degree issues them.

You might change your mind

Stay with me a second. While absolutely no one you turn away gets to insist you'll have a change of heart — with a smug, "Just you wait and see!" — I'm going to quietly suggest it as a possibility. I spent three pregnancies assuring my mother I wanted privacy during the birth, and I was completely correct for the first two. Eight centimeters into labor with my third, I shocked myself with a phone call begging her to come be by my side. I still don't know what came over me, but I'm grateful she was close by and made it in time. Absolutely plan for what you know to be true today — you are almost certainly correct — but build in a backup just in case those labor hormones grab the wheel.

More on labor and birth

Help! I can't have a water birth at my hospital
The truth about tearing during childbirth
I regret not standing up for myself when I was in labor


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