Delivery rooms increasingly resemble gladiator-style amphitheaters where uninvited family members cram in to watch women give birth, according to Today, which describes situations "rife with drama as grandparents-to-be vie for the best camera angle, or a mother-in-law angles to be the one feeding ice chips between contractions." (Definitely just inadvertently shut my legs together tight while typing that.)
Women nowadays apparently swap tips on parenting sites like BabyCenter and DC Urban Moms and Dads on how to tell parents, in-laws and other family members that they don't want them in the room peering into their traumatized vagina:
One mom says she had to request hospital security to escort her in-laws off the premises, because they repeatedly tried to barge into the delivery room. Another woman recounts how her mother-in-law appeared, uninvited, during her C-Section prep— and somehow ended up holding the new baby before the mom could. And one pregnant mom, after two hours of pushing, asked her own mother to leave when the grandma-to-be elbowed their midwife out of the way to get the perfect shot with her camera.
Dr. Rob Olson, a Bellingham, Wash., obstetrician and gynecologist, told Today that in the 1990s (thus explaining a lot of emotional romcom scenes from that era) there could be between five and 10 people in a delivery room, making it rough for the doctor trying to facilitate human birth and the laboring mom "who, not infrequently, felt like she had to entertain 'guests' instead of focusing on herself." (Lean in!) Here are some tips for kicking unwanted bystanders out with grace:
- Olsen "reminds new moms they can always blame a hospital’s 'restrictive' visitation policy, rather than telling an overly exuberant relative outright that she’s not welcome in the labor and delivery room." Very crafty.
- "Due to various concerns about hygiene, the influenza virus and yes, personal space, many hospitals, over the past five years, have started restricting access to the delivery room." Say you're worried about [insert zeitgeisty disease here]. Or that you're claustrophobic.
- Get a doula to advocate for you in the delivery room— "which can certainly mean telling a mother-in-law or a best friend to hang out in the cafeteria or go home, so a woman doesn’t have to worry about a potentially prickly dialogue with anybody mid-labor."
Image via Anatoly Tiplyashin/Shutterstock.