“My mom wants to be there when he’s born…but I know she’ll stress me out. I don’t know what to do.”

“During my first birth, my mother-in-law came into the room while I was pushing! I was too stressed and tired at that point to say anything, but I was so nervous and frazzled having her in there. It’s not what we wanted”

“I’ve told my parents not to come to the hospital at all, that we will call them when the baby is born. They are now not speaking to me, as they say the “deserve” to be there.”

“My best friends are fighting over who gets to hold the baby first. I’m worried I’m not going to feel like dealing with that drama right after birth”

“I had 20 people in the waiting room during my last labor and birth, which took over 24 hours. I was completely stressed out that they were all waiting. I felt like I needed to hurry up and perform! I don’t want that this time”

“I think all the grandparents to be are going to get into a fight in the waiting room over who’s the best grandparent. This is the last thing I need.”

“I adore my parents, but we simply don’t want them there for the birth. It’s our day, right? Why are they acting like they have a right to be there? It’s making this pregnancy sad and stressful.”

“My mother was a labor and delivery nurse in the 80’s. If she’s with me during labor, I know she’s going to try to control the whole show. It’s not what I want”.

“Aunt Susie bought us a crib.  When she dropped by the hospital to visit during my labor and never left, I didn’t say anything, even though we wanted to be on our own.  I guessed she deserved to be there since she helped us with the nursery, and I felt bad kicking her out.”

Any of this sound familiar?  One of the big questions we are often asked as doulas is “how can I tell our parents we don’t want them with us while we give birth?  How can we explain to our family that we don’t want them in the waiting room?  And how can we explain why we have a doula, but won’t let them in? Click here for a great blog post on how a doula is different than having a friend or family member be your birth coach. “They are acting hurt by it all, and it’s making us miserable.  We love them!  But we just want it to be us.”  Even though we love and adore our family and friends, birth is often a private and special time for the new family.  Not wanting family members or best friends to be there, isn’t personal.  It really isn’t.  Here’s the message I want you to understand: It’s all about you.  This day is all about you and your birth partner.  That’s it.  You have every right to keep it to yourself, and to be respected for that choice.

Pregnancy and birth, while wonderful and happy, can also be filled with stress and can be tiresome.  Having to deal with grandparent jealousy, overbearing friends, overexcited cousins and quarreling siblings can wear a person down on a good day, much less after 24 hours of labor.  Mothers are often a bundle of nerves as their daughters give birth, and it shows.  The birthing person will often pick up on this nervous energy from well meaning folks.  I actually overheard someone in a labor and delivery waiting room crankily tell a nervous father to be, “I’m tired of waiting.  Tell your wife to hurry it up”.  Yes, my jaw hit the floor too.

Even having family in the waiting room can be worrisome for the new parents.  I’ve been told countless times “I feel like I need to perform”, or “I feel so bad for them all, they’ve been up for hours sitting in those waiting room chairs.  I wish I could make them more comfortable”.  No.  Uh-uh.  No.  The last thing someone in labor should be worrying about is the comfort of people in the waiting room.

So how can your family and friends support you without actually being present?  Family want to help and be a part of this beautiful event.  Help them feel involved, even if that involvement is not in the birth room.  Here are five things they can do to lend support, while giving you your space.


Bring Food- Ask them to be on standby to drop food off for the birth partner. While the person in labor may or may not be hungry (or might be restricted to a clear liquid diet) you can bet the birth partner will want some food! Have them run grab a meal or some coffee and bring it to you But-here’s the thing-make sure they know to drop off the food and head out, and not to  linger.
Pet Care- Furry little friends still need bathroom breaks, walks, and to have their kibble bowls filled. Ask your friends to help with pet care during birth, and feel confident that your pet family are being well cared for.
Cleaning your home- Aunts Susie and Aunt Margaret stopping by and  giving your house a good cleaning while you are having a baby?  How sweet is that? They can sweep and mop, put fresh sheets on the bed, make sure the nursery is in order and that the fridge is stocked with nourishing, ready to eat food. You will be over the moon happy  for this act of kindness.
Be on sibling duty-If there are other siblings in the family, one of the most helpful things grandparents and best friends can do is take care of your other children-whether it’s at 12 noon or 3 in the morning. Childcare during birth can be incredibly stressful, and knowing you have one or more dedicated people to help out, is a huge relief.
If they are in the know, tell them them to keep it a secret- I recently heard a friend bemoan the fact that her mother had posted on her Facebook page that she was in labor.   “I guess my mom posted about it.  Everybody knows now.  I wish she hadn’t”.  Stress to your friends and family before labor that it’s important NOT to share with others unless you give them permission. On the flip side, if they are in the know after baby has arrived, don’t let them spoil your birth announcement! Make sure they know you want to keep things to yourself right now, and not to post on social media.  Remember-this is YOUR special day!  Your birth announcement should be made by you or your birth partner.

Remind your family and friends that there will be a lifetime of memories to come with this new little baby, and respecting your wishes during birth is the first gift they can give to you, as your start your new family.

As always, happy birthing!