I knew a few members of my family, and my partner's family, were less than thrilled that I didn't want a lot of people in the delivery room when my son was born. It wasn't a secret that all the parents, and siblings, wanted in. I think even a bold aunt tried to muscle her way onto the birth squad. When I shut them down and said, without hesitation, that my kid's dad should be the only person in the delivery room, they were begrudgingly compliant. They didn't throw themselves on the ground, start weeping, and threaten to sue or anything — they were (mostly) adults about it — but they were deeply displeased.
What I didn't know at the time, but was later unhappily surprised to learn, is how few women feel like they can say, "I don't want you and/or anyone in my delivery room" to family and friends without creating intense (and sometimes, insurmountable) friction within their families. And hey, I get not wanting to deal with that, especially when you're pregnant. Taking the path of least bullsh*t is always understandable, never more so than when you're staring down the barrel of expelling a person from your body through an upsettingly small opening. Who wants to deal with a pissed off mother-in-law on top of that, right?
Evidently, I did. To me, being in control of what happened in my labor and birthing space — and what didn't — meant everything. So with that in mind, here are the reasons I didn't let anyone in the delivery room except my partner, why I would for sure do it again, and why I'm convinced one of the best decisions you can make before you bring a human into the world is to kick everyone else out of the damn delivery room:
Because You Won't Want Anyone Else There
We could truthfully just stop the list here. I wanted my partner there, and I didn't want anyone else there, and that never felt like a choice I needed to defend. Yes, other people absolutely thought I needed to defend that choice, but whatever. When they had a baby, they could decide who would watch it come out of their body. Call me crazy, but it just kinda felt like a "me" thing.
Because Chaotic Birthing Environments Are Confusing
I'm not about to tell anyone what they should or shouldn't do during their labor (because in the end and always it is your decision, even if I have some feels about the entire thing) but I cannot understand the logic behind having so many people in the delivery room. Who came up with that plan? I'm guessing it wasn't a laboring mom. I'm guessing it was her mom... and her partner's mom, and their sisters, and their moms, and maybe some sisters or cousins or whatever, all of whom want to feel essential and important. And nothing is more validating than being part of the inner circle around someone's Big Life Event. Hand-to-god, I'm certain the widely accepted notion of a mega-packed delivery room was originally built in service to relatives' egos.
Anyway, I wasn't having it.
Because You'll Feel More In Control
Fewer people in the room meant less distraction, and less distraction meant it would be easier for me to attain and maintain whatever mental state and environmental vibe was most conducive to me getting the job done. Basically, people are full of free will and variables, both of which felt like a liability that could f*ck up my flow.
Because You'll Have Fewer People's Feelings To Deal With
Yeah, man, labor and birth are times of intense feelings all over the place. Totally. I feel you. Excitement, fear, anticipation, just to name the broad ones and ignore the countless much more specific emotions that anyone and everyone in a birthing room is unavoidably condemned to feel at some point. It's a lot to handle. And honestly, It was more than enough just to deal with my feelings. Even my kid's dad was on alert that he might get thrown out if he didn't keep it together enough for me to do my work.
Because You'll Feel Less Pressure
I thought I knew exactly how my labor was going to go, largely because I was 25, basically competent at most things, insufferably stubborn, and had encountered very few challenges in my short life that I hadn't been able to ultimately bend to my will, so why would this be any different?
In addition to being obnoxious, I was obviously quite wrong. And something in me must've known that there was a strong possibility of birth being a stressful and unpredictable experience, since I very strongly dismissed the idea of having an audience in the room.
I know my irritating self, and trust me, if I'd really thought my labor experience was going to be the effortless, curated endeavor I would've told you beforehand that it would definitely be, I would've wanted as many people there to witness it. I knew it was going to be an unmitigated mess, and it was, and I'm glad no one was there watching me expectantly while I was contemplating any one of the dozens of little choices I had to made about how to proceed in the middle of an especially arduous labor.
Because Your Baby Will Be Born In A Quieter Room
I mean, being that I was the person who was going to be pushing a 9-pound beast out of my vagina, my needs and preferences took priority. If I could tend to other people's needs while also serving my own, I was delighted. If that wasn't possible on any point, I didn't sweat it. My baby was the only other person whose needs and comfort were arguably tied for top billing with my own. As it happened, we needed a lot of the same thing: space and quiet to get our bearings, adjust to the reality shift we were actively navigating, and figure out the complicated task of breastfeeding.
I was thrilled that so many people were so eager to get busy loving on my kid that they were inconvenienced by having to wait a few extra hours and days to do so — but I'm incredibly thankful that I made them do just that.