Childbirth is one of the most amazing, life changing experiences a human can experience. It also really, really hurts. Whether or not your child’s birth is medicated, you're bound to experience a degree of pain and discomfort. What you really need is to be surrounded by people that love you and support you, and offer comfort as you undertake labor and delivery. Unfortunately that's not what every mom-to-be experiences. Instead, an unlucky few encounter the cruelest things anyone could do to a laboring woman.
There really ought to be a code of conduct that people must swear they will follow before they're allowed in or around the birthing room or suite of any woman in labor. After all, if you're being trusted to witness someone at their most vulnerable, most stronger moment, you shouldn't underestimate that honor. However, for better or worse the onus is on every pregnant woman to think very carefully about who they want to be with them when they go through childbirth. If someone annoys or upsets you in normal everyday life, I think it's safe to say they're going to drive you crazy in the delivery room.
Personally, I chose my mom to be there while my son was being born, and she was amazing. She kept me hydrated, cheered me on, and calmed my fears. Most importantly, she definitely didn't do any of these truly unforgivable things:
Eat In Front Of Her
More and more hospitals are allowing laboring women to eat if they wish to, but many stick by the old rules of refusing food in case surgery is needed.
If you dig into a big greasy burger and fries while the mom to be has to make do with ice chips, you're officially an evil human being.
Tell Her All About Your Own Experiences
Hearing about a range of birth experiences can be very interesting when you first find out you're expecting (and if you ask to hear about them). However, when you're in the middle of birthing your baby, those stories are irrelevant. Hearing someone say, "My contractions were shorter," or, “I didn't need any medication," is infuriating when you're in the middle of a contraction and asking for medication.
Wave Her Birth Plan In Her Face
Plans can (read: usually do) change, especially when it comes to birth. Perhaps you always wanted a water birth or you knew an epidural was for you, but once the contractions start and your baby is on its way you change your mind. If and/or when that moment arrives, you don't need meddling bystanders tutting and saying, “Well, your birth plan says…”
My birth plan had to go completely out of the window, due to a string of complications and emergencies. I needed my birth coaches to be flexible and roll with all the changes, so that they could support me in doing the same.
Say "It Can't Hurt That Much"
These words, especially spoken by someone who hasn't or physically cannot experience birth firsthand, are the precursor to being punched in the face. Even if the woman giving birth is making enough noise to wake the dead, birth attendants should let her do whatever she needs to do to get through it.
Complain About Your Own Feelings
Women in labor often feel tired, frustrated, impatient, uncomfortable, and in pain. What they don't need to know is if their birth coach feels any of those same feelings. Not necessary. Not helpful. It's all about her, so hush.
Make Calls Or Video Chats Without Consent
When I was laboring, I found the pain easier to manage when I concentrated in a quiet room.
My mom was very understanding, so she took calls outside the room as to not disturb me. So, if you do make calls, turning the phone around to show the laboring mom to the caller is an absolute no-no.
Take Pictures Without Consent
Some women want their birthing experience to be caught on film, and may even hire professional photographers to capture the big moment. Personally, I can't think of anything worse than being photographed when in an immense amount of pain and discomfort, wearing a hospital gown with my hair stuck to my forehead with sweat. That's just not a good look for me.
Ask "How Are You?"
Birth can take a very long time. Mine lasted more than 48 hours and, in that time, I felt a range of emotions: pride, strength, empowerment, fear, vulnerability and sadness. What I didn't need during that long labor and delivery, was someone constantly asking me if I was OK.
Birth coaches can show support in other ways, without having to constantly verbally check in with you. That's all I'm saying.
Announce The Birth Before She Can (Or At All)
Being at the birth of a baby is a huge privilege. You are there to support and comfort the mother. You are not there to announce the birth before she has a chance.
Posting a status about the birth of the baby on social media before the mother can is, in my opinion, the lowest of the low. Many parents know exactly what they want to say, and may have crafted the perfect message to introduce their child to the world. Beating them to the punch is not cool.