If you’re getting close to your due date, you probably have your hospital bag packed, your childbirth plan in place, and a new car seat painstakingly installed in the backseat of your car. Now, the real countdown begins.
As your baby’s debut nears, you’ll want to think about who to have in the delivery room with you. Tara Davis, DO an OB/GYN at Bryn Mawr Women’s Health Associates, gave us the lowdown on who should be in the delivery room for support when your baby makes his or her grand entrance.
Who will definitely be in the delivery room?
Great question. First, there’s your doctor or midwife, who will deliver the infant. Then, there’s a labor nurse who will coach you through the pushing all while monitoring your baby’s progress. You’ll also have the support of a baby nurse who will evaluate your baby’s health after delivery and facilitate the skin-to-skin and breastfeeding processes.
Everyone’s childbirth experience will be different. If you need a cesarean section or if you deliver early, your birth team may require an extra set of hands. In some cases, a neonatologist and an NICU nurse will be present to check on the baby’s well being as soon as they are born.
If your baby arrives via c-section, an anesthesiologist will be present to treat any pain. You’ll also likely have a scrub nurse in the room who will hand instruments to the physician during the procedure, as well as an assistant physician who will provide extra support. If you’re expecting twins or triplets, your care team will likely multiply in size.
Am I allowed to have anyone else?
The day your baby arrives will be one of the most special days of your life—there’s no doubt about that. But it’s also going to be a busy and demanding day, which is why it’s important to have a support system by your side.
“A partner can help with the delivery—such as holding a leg during pushing—and provide reassurance to the patient during the labor process,” Dr. Davis says.
You may want to invite your partner or chosen supporter to attend a childbirth prep class before the big day. There, you can both learn about the physical and emotional aspects of labor and delivery along with some coping strategies and relaxation techniques.
Dr. Davis adds that you are typically allowed to have one support person in addition to a partner. While some women will choose to have a doula or labor coach there for support, others might invite a parent or additional family member. Regardless of who you invite into the delivery room, Dr. Davis recommends choosing people who can create a supportive environment and help you feel calm and comfortable.
What if I want to ask someone to leave?
It might feel awkward to ask someone not to be in the delivery room, but don’t worry—many expecting mothers have been in this same position. While additional loved ones might want to be a part of this special moment, whether or not they are in the delivery room is your choice. If you have a family member who is insistent on being present, try to have an open and honest conversation about your preferences with them.
You can also let your care team know who you want present, and they’ll take care of the rest. If at any point you feel like someone is adding too much stress or simply getting in the way, your nurse or doctor can always ask that individual to exit the room on your behalf. Remember: you can change your mind about who to have in the delivery room at any point.
Can my older children be in the delivery room?
Dr. Davis recommends that older children be at least 16 years old to be present during labor and birth. Any child who is present should be counseled about the process of vaginal birth so they know what to expect and are not alarmed. Children are not allowed in c-section deliveries.
Anything else I should know?
Many new parents feel pressure about including certain friends or family members in the delivery room. Don’t push aside your own preferences or personal values—do whatever makes you feel the most calm and comfortable.
“The labor room can be a stressful place for a new mother, [so] ask support people to be present who will provide a calming environment even at times of pain or stress for the mother,” Dr. Davis recommends.
Once your baby arrives, you’ll want to limit visitors, at least for a while. The first hour following childbirth is known as “the golden hour,” and it is a special time of bonding for the new family. This is when you and your partner or support person have the opportunity to attempt breastfeeding for the first time and engage in skin-to-skin contact with your baby.
All in all, who you have (or don’t have) in the delivery room is an important decision that you should consider ahead of your due date. Be mindful about your own wishes, and, when in doubt, simply do what feels right for you and your baby.