YOU DECIDE WHO YOU DO AND DO NOT WANT AT YOUR LABOUR
Every person who attends your labour and birth is an intervention. Now, when most people read "intervention," they assume it's something negative. WRONG. Some interventions are absolutely necessary and can be life-saving. It is also true that some interventions or in this case, people, can add positivity and calm to your birth space while others may bring fear or anxiety into your experience.
Whether you allow people and whom you allow into your labour/birth space is entirely up to you! Many of my clients prefer to labour at home for as long as they can before going into hospital. Of course others have a home birth or prefer to go into hospital right away when labour starts. You need to ask yourself who you think will be supportive and add positivity to your experience if you plan on labouring at home. On the flipside, who would be more likely to bring feelings of fear or anxiety or worse, maybe even go against your wishes? Several of my clients in the past felt really pressured by their well-meaning family members who kept encouraging them to go to hospital although the labouring person didn't desire to go to hospital until active labour began. Others had family members relaying birth horror stories to them while they were labouring at home. "Well your cousin stayed home and x happened to her baby..." This can be really upsetting to the expectant parents and disruptive to the progression of labour.
Who do you want supporting you while you labour at home? It's perfectly ok and normal to want to labour alone, with your partner and/or birth doula. Do you wish to notify others when you go into labour? Some people you may need to tell, especially if they are minding any older children for you. If you would prefer they not tell anyone else, say this to them. Do you want other family/friends to know? Keep in mind some people will give you loads of time and space while others may request regular updates or flood you with messages once they know it's almost baby time!
The beauty of all this? YOU DECIDE who you want to tell, when you want to tell them and who you want to physically invite. Some expectant mother's partners may also decide they would like to act as a gatekeeper once labour has begun. They nominate themselves to deal with family/friends rather than have them directly contact the labouring person who may be trying to rest, relax and get in “the zone” of birth. If you don't want someone in your space or change your mind and want them to leave? You can say you need space or create that space yourself- again, your gatekeeper may be the perfect person for this. You may need to set firm boundaries about when you will contact people and who you feel most comfortable contacting and hearing from.
And what about when you go into hospital? Some hospitals only allow one support person like your partner, sister, mother, friend etc. plus a birth doula. Other hospitals have a policy, which I entirely disagree with, that forces you to choose between your partner and a doula- a strictly one support person rule. I find this rather backward but it's the reality for some families in Ireland. Have you included in your birth preferences that you would like fewer interruptions from hospital staff? Have you discussed whether you want medical students observing your experience? All of these preferences may impact the number of people in your birth space and how comfortable and at ease you feel as you welcome your baby into the world.
What feels right for you?