What Nurses Want You To Know About Bringing Your Toddler To Labor & Delivery

Going into labor is nerve-wracking and wonderful. You're bringing an entirely new human into existence and honestly, it's nothing less than a miracle. It's understandable you'd want to share that joy with your toddler — after all, it's going to affect them, too. But can toddlers visit you in the labor and delivery ward, or will they have to kiss mommy goodbye when she leaves for the hospital and wait to visit?

Many hospitals have strict policies determining who can and cannot attend your delivery. Where I delivered, you were limited to three people, all of whom had to be over 13 years old. That worked out well for me since I generally hate everyone while I'm in labor. (Especially since I'm pretty sure at some point, my uterus was communing with the Dark Lord, because it felt like my vagina was a horcrux and I was giving birth to a wizard intent on destroying it.)

I understand the desire to have your toddler there with you though. I've seen pictures of friends on Facebook who had their other kids in the room with them while their sibling was born, and it seems a transcendent joy overtook them at this new life. It could really make them feel like they're a part of the process.

I asked labor and delivery room nurse Tara Wilson of Manhattan if it's possible — can toddlers visit you in the labor and delivery ward? She tells Romper that "most hospitals would prefer if they didn't. However, if you're having an uncomplicated labor, you're comfortable, and the hospital policy allows it, then a visit should be OK. You may want to think twice about them being around for the birth, though. Things can get hairy quickly, and that could be traumatic for you and your child. Also, they can be a distraction, and for that reason alone, many hospitals won't let them attend the birth. Birth centers are usually more lax on this policy, but the reasoning is sound."

To me, at least, that makes sense. It's easy to think that because you've had an uncomplicated birth previously, that you would again, and your child would simply be witnessing the miracle of life. However, it can go sideways, and that would be hard for any child. If your hospital allows it, Wilson tells Romper that you should have someone there — other than your partner — who can usher them away in an emergency situation. You don't want to face the prospect of delivering alone if your child has to be removed from the area and the only one available is your partner.

In the end, it's a balance between personal choice and hospital policy that will inform your decision. Talk to your OB-GYN to determine what you think is the best idea moving forward.