Our friends and family are so incredible, especially when they’re eager to share in the joy of your new baby. This week, we’re kicking off a new blog series on setting expectations and communicating your desires to your loved ones in a firm, but gentle way.
Let’s set the scene: You’ve just announced your pregnancy to your friends and family.
You’ve got some basic ideas of how you’d like your birth to unfold, and who you’d like to have by your side. Your family is brimming with excitement and your mother, and mother-in-law, and best friend, and your first cousin… they’ve all asked to be there on The Big Day by your side. Or, maybe there’s an unspoken desire that you can just feel from your friends and family that they expect to be there in the moment you welcome your baby into your arms.
So how do you tactfully tell your mother that your plans for birth may or may not include her being in the actual birth space?
Start the conversation early …
Pro Tip: Waiting until you’re actually in labor to announce that you’d only like your partner, (and oh, also the doula, but not you, Mom) is a sure fire way to hurt feelings, even unintentionally.
If you’re envisioning a birthing space with a very limited guest list, speak up now before the emotions begin running very high. This is your birth, and you get to say who’d like to be there and who needs to wait in the lobby.
Empower them with information …
Birth looks a lot different than it did when you were born, and things that may feel like normal, low-risk choices to you, may actually feel very big or scary to your parents.
If you mom (MIL, friends, cousin, whomever) is in fact invited into your birth room, make sure that they can support your vision and goals. Invite them to your birth classes or prenatal meeting with your doulas, so they have a space (outside of the actual birth) to ask questions or address any concerns. Otherwise, you risk a nervous energy in your birth space that could effect your own confidence in yourself.
Be clear about your communication timeline …
Time is a third dimension in birth. Your baby’s birthing day will some how feel like the fastest time of your life, and the slowest.
To anxious friends and family? It’s downright glacial.
And every. single. well-intentioned family. we’ve ever met always assumes that no news must mean bad news. It doesn’t. Birth just takes time.
If they’re not joining you in labor, in your birth space, be very, very clear about when you’ll communicate with them and how. Will you send a text as things progress? Will your partner call them every 4 hours? Should they call you?
Will you wait to share that you've gone into labor until the baby is Earthside?
In our experience, setting that expectation and timeline ahead of birth will reduce your birth team’s distractions and they can put their focus more on you and your birth and ease the minds of your loved ones.
Don’t forget the immediate postpartum …
Sometimes, once the “Baby’s here!!!!!” text is sent, our Waiting Room Fan Clubs get very anxious to see that precious new baby. Who can blame them?!
But those first few moments after birth are a very tender and vulnerable time, both emotionally and physically. Give yourselves a few moments alone as a new family to get to know your baby before their adoring visitors begin arriving. We’ve seen more than one Father-in-Law accidentally invite themselves into a labor room, and walk in on a naked birthing person who’s just delivered their placenta.
You may need a moment to collect yourselves immediately following birth - to have any repairs made, to put on clothes, to clean up the room (birth is quite messy sometimes), to focus on feeding your baby. Set expectations now with your friends and family that you’ll let them know when they should come back to see you. And, give them a realistic idea of when that time might be (immediately following birth? An hour after birth? On your way to your postpartum room? The day after birth, in your postpartum room? At home?
If you’re giving birth in the hospital, the staff can help play bouncer at the door if needed. But, it will be better received from you, before your baby’s birthing day.
Did you know that setting boundaries with friends and family is a topic we dedicate an entire Community Prenatal to for our clients? Community Prenatal Meetings are the cornerstone of our model and a unique addd value to our doula services. These monthly meetings provide an opportunity for shared learning, both from your doulas and from our other clients.