Deciding who you want to have in your labor and delivery room can be anxiety-inducing and problematic among family members. As I've emphasized in previous posts, it is important to remember that it is your birth and you should try not let your concern about others dictate your experience. The amount of people in your labor room directly correlates with how long your labor will be. I have also seen countless times when patients with high blood pressure simply have their family (or namely their mothers) leave the room, their blood pressure miraculously drops to a normal range. I have had many patients tell me in private they do not want certain people in the room but they are too afraid to tell them. I am happy to be the bad guy and get anyone out of the room that my patient doesn't want as I am my patient's advocate and want her to have the birth she envisions sans family drama. I have recently had a barrage of crazy family members which prompted me to write this post. As you decide who you want in the room, remember that this is one of the times in your life it is absolutely OKAY to be a little bit selfish.
People to Leave at Home...
1. The Non-Supporter
Unless you are the person having contractions and squeezing a melon out of your hoo-ha, no opinions on pain management from the peanut gallery. I do not tolerate a mother, boyfriend or husband telling me "She doesn't want an epidural." I am very capable of talking directly to my patient, as she is very much capable of speaking directly to me. If said mother or significant other shows up several hours into my patient's labor and disappointingly or angrily says, "I thought we weren't going to get an epidural," they will find themselves a one way ticket out to the waiting room. Trust me, this stuff really happens. I'm not making it up!
2. The Story-Teller
This is a difficult one because everyone wants to share their experience. When I first went back to work after maternity leave, I caught myself several times telling stories of my own birth to my patients and worked really hard to reel that in. I've had patient's mothers, sisters, and friends talk the entire time, comparing each and every event with their own birth experience. Sometimes it is the sister who just gave birth two months prior in that very hospital room. Sometimes it is the friend who had four kids at home in a bath tub. Sometimes it is the mother who relates everything her daughter is going through to her own birth. It may sound sweet, but it can really retract from the moment at hand which is THIS birth. Things are going to be different with every single labor, delivery, and postpartum period so it is important not to get too caught up in comparisons.
3. The Skeptic (AKA the Googler)
Some people just have a little too much Facebook time on their hands and have read one too many un-sourced articles. They are distrustful of nurses, doctors, and hospitals and in turn plant little seeds in the patient's mind which in turn causes her to distrust the experience. These are the type of people that question every single thing I do from the saline flush in the IV to setting up the newborn warmer in preparation for delivery. I'm all about asking questions and am always happy to answer, but there is a difference between asking for the patient's benefit and asking to try and prove something or somehow catch me in my evil nursing ways. Leave these people at home.
4. The Arguer
This person is a close relative and often the same person as The Non-Supporter. This person will have overall hostile tone toward other people in the room, including but not limited to nurses and doctors. This is often the guest that the patient is afraid to tell she doesn't want in the room. They are often outspoken and rude and cannot put aside their own ego for two minutes to realize that this is not about them. I have had this person argue with me at the labor room door while the patient (her daughter) was literally pushing and she would not leave. Meanwhile the patient was simultaneously crying because she didn't want her mom in the room and knew that subsequently her mother wouldn't speak to her after as a result. If you do bring these troublemakers (or sometimes they just show up), don't be surprised if a Code Grey is called on them!
5. The Close But Not-That-Close Relative
For everyone's comfort level, leave your brother and your dad in the waiting room. It's just weird. They don't want to see that. You don't want them to see that. Just trust me.
I hope this helps as you decide who to have in your L&D room. Just remember, as stressful as it may seem and you may worry about the repercussions for hurting someone's feelings, all that will pass very quickly and seem utterly trivial once you are holding your precious baby in your arms for the first time. As always, good luck and happy pushing!