Motherhood

Who Would You Want in the Room While Giving Birth?

Newborn baby

Who would you want in the room while giving birth? For both our boys, I…

…wanted only Alex there, with doctors and nurses checking on us now and again. I loved the experience and craved total peace and quiet. Here, seven more women share their stories:

“I’m a single mom, so I had my dad with me; he’s the calmest of my family, so I knew he’d be the one. It was an emergency C-section a month early because my blood pressure was too high. I remember him sitting next to me and stroking my hair. I said, ‘Dad, I’m not going to speak, so don’t think I’m dead. I’m just imagining I’m on a beach in St. Barth.’ I did manage to transport myself to the ocean… but I’d break out of it every 30 seconds and beg him for a Diet Sprite. I don’t even drink soda but I was the thirstiest of my life and really craving a Diet Sprite! When the baby was out, he was the first to hold her — it’s a memory I cherish.” — Alyssa

“During my C-section, my doctor told my husband to put his face close to mine and say sweet nothings, like how beautiful and strong I was (it had been a long labor). She asked him to hold a lavender handkerchief under my nose for the smell(s). She also told me to expect bright lights, music and that the doctors might talk about seemingly strange things — their vacations, golf, jokes. I was so glad for that advice!” — Abbey

“On Christmas Eve, I was having major contractions, and we were leaving for the hospital. I was on the front porch when my water broke. My legs started shaking, and I yelled ‘I need to push – NOW!’ My dad, who’s a family doctor in Arizona, was visiting with my mom and my sister. He said, ‘Looks like we’re having this baby right here.’ They got me back into the house, and my husband and my dad lay me down on an ottoman in the living room. The baby was crowning and I started pushing, with my sister holding my back up, my husband and my mom holding my legs and my dad delivering the baby, two feet from our Christmas tree. There was not a dry eye in the place. We tied the cord with dental floss and my husband cut it with a pair of sewing scissors, sanitized with Purell. We wrapped our daughter in a beach towel before heading to the hospital to get checked out. Her name? Evie, our Christmas Eve miracle.” — Jenny

“I spent my entire labor trying to figure out who to set up my OB with, and trying to convince her to do JDate, so that kept me busy. (Don’t worry, she is now married to a nice anesthesiologist without my help.) My husband was there, and quite helpful 1) turning the pages of my Us Weekly while I was on my hands and knees and 2) holding my knees to my chest while I pushed!” — Paige

“All four grandparents were in the waiting room, although my partner was the only one in the delivery room. During my three hours of pushing, my dad was pacing right outside the door, like a scene in a movie.” — Allison

“We did a home birth, and two older kids were right there. I wasn’t sure if it would be too much for them, but it was a magical experience having my husband, midwife and two — then three! — children all together at that miraculous moment. We just had to stop them from jumping in the birthing tub afterward!” — Nicole

“We were lucky to have an obstetrician who works with just one other partner in her practice, and for most births they have a policy of providing ‘four hands’ on deck — both doctors are present pretty much the whole time. They often say that they’re more like midwives than doctors. During my 12 hours of labor, which ended up in a C-section, one or both of them sat with us and chatted about movies, careers, family and amazing patient stories. I remember going in and out of sleep all night listening to my husband and doctors laughing and hanging out, and it was pretty much the most comforting feeling in the world.” — Lexi

Newborn twins

Who would you want in the room with you? Your partner? A doula? Your best friend? Is there anyone you really wouldn’t want there? I’d love to hear…

P.S. How to keep up your marriage after kids, and how do you know if you’re ready to have a baby?

(Top photo by Billy Jack Brawner; bottom photo by Kieran Dodds.)

  1. Courtney says...

    Just found this post via the Man Repeller profile on Joanna… missed it the first time around because I was in labor!!! :)

  2. I struggled with the “who do I want in the room with me?” question for almost my entire pregnancy. I don’t want to say I’m a control freak, but in potentially high-stress situations like that, I easily agitated and like to have control over my environment. My fiance’s Mother really wanted to be in the room, as did my Mom and honestly – I wasn’t sure if I wanted anyone but Nick and I in there. After talking it over with my Mom, she reassured me that the situation was about me, and me only and to not worry. I got induced, and decided to not call our parents until I was about 7cm dilated, and honestly, no one showed up until I was on the table pushing (everything went very quickly). So, I spent my whole labor with my nurse, and my fiance in retrospect, the only thing I would have changed would be the have my mom there for more of the labor. I was in such a vulnerable position, and was working so hard to stay focussed, that I feel like having others around me would be a distraction, and would just be irritating to me (no matter how much I love them). This worked for me! I love hearing stories of women who invite all of their friends and families in to experience their labor and birth. It’s so amazing!

  3. Amy says...

    My mom is not comfortable with hospitals, doctors, etc, so I knew I wouldn’t want her there. As far as family goes, I knew it was just going to be me and my husband, and I was totally fine with that. For my birth with my first, I really wanted to go as far as possible towards a natural birth. We didn’t do birth classes, but we did hire a wonderful doula. We were in this wonderful beautiful hospital with tubs for laboring, and a doctor I really trusted, and I was so ready for it. Unfortunately we ended up inducing labor at 10 days late, and I went through 7 hours of Pitocin induced labor before requesting an epidural. My doula was amazing during this time, what I specifically remember is that she massaged my feet while I labored on a ball. I don’t even ask my husband to rub my feet, but she just did it! It gave me such relief. When my labor didn’t progress over the entire day, she backed up every decision we made, from my decision to get an epidural, to agreeing with the doctor late that evening that I needed a C-section. We decided that my husband would come into the operating room with me for the surgery, and then stay by our son’s side, and my doula took his place up by my head when he and our son went back to the room. At that point, post-surgery, post-seeing my son, I was SO READY to be done. I just kept saying “I don’t like this anymore, I don’t like this anymore, I’m hot, I’m going to be sick,” and she just held a bowl by my head, told me I was doing a good job, and stayed by my side until we were back in the room with my husband and our son. Even after that she stayed for another couple hours, working to get breastfeeding started (didn’t work out). My husband was great, I was so glad to have him by my side all day, but my doula just knew what to do, you know??
    With our second, I just prayed and prayed and prayed to have a VBAC. That was my sole focus, I found a doctor (new city) who told me she’d work with me to that goal, and it was me and that doctor. I didn’t care about laboring unmedicated, or anything. And I went into labor by myself! Middle of the night drive to the hospital! Got an epidural! Pushed for 55 minutes and got my baby girl out in one big push! I will say, there were so.many.people in the room by the time I was delivering, good lord. My husband, l&d nurses, a specific baby nurse, MY ob (hooray, it was her day in the hospital!), a bazillion people and bright lights.
    Next time around (god willing we’ll have a third), I am totally going to hire a doula again. Having had a successful VBAC, I’m ready to think about how I want to labor, a different strategy for pain management, etc.

  4. Courtney says...

    I love this! For the birth of my son, I wanted my husband and my mom present. I knew my husband might be a little unprepared, but my mom is an absolute boss at knowing exactly what you need at the right time. I was right! My mom brought with her a magical bag of tricks, and made me burst in to hysterical, uncontrolled waves of laughter after she pulled one of her kitchen rolling pins out of her purse.
    Everything moved rather slowly with the labor, until it felt like the pain went up several notches in just a few minutes. When the nurse checked, I had gone from a 4-9, and was ready to push. In the moment, I completely panicked, and a voice from the deep recesses of my heart told me I had to have my identical twin sister present. I asked the doctor if I could ‘pause’ for a minute and someone could get my sister (who at the time, was about 20 minutes in good city traffic away, at home, taking a shower). My surprised doctor told me that I was the first patient she had ever had who asked to ‘hold off a minute’ before getting started with the pushing, but I knew I couldn’t go on without her. My sister raced over, with her dripping wet hair, and I don’t think I have ever been so happy to see someone in my entire life. She, my mom, and my husband took turns holding my legs and getting my sips of water between pushes. My poor husband held his breath every time I would push, and had to sit down for a second before he passed out. A few pushes later, we welcomed my son into the world. I could not have asked for a better birth experience the first time around. My second child came into this world asleep, so I look back on my first experience with even more awe and wonder at the miracle of it all.

  5. Shayla says...

    I am a fairly introverted person, but when I was in labor I wanted everyone there! My three best girlfriends and my husband were there. My water broke at 11pm. By the morning they were all at the hospital with me, taking turns helping me through contractions. My husband stayed with me the whole time and was a huge source of comfort and strength, but I needed those women too! One walked the halls with me during my earlier labor, one rubbed my lower back through the back contractions, and one sprayed my stomach with warm water while I was in the tub trying to relax as I got closer to transition. When it came to pushing, they held my legs. One of them even caught my daughter! I don’t think I would have it any other way. It was a special moment I got to share with the people I loved. I am definitely asking them to be there next time!

  6. Sarah says...

    It’s a comfort reading so many wonderful birthing stories. I am currently 8-weeks pregnant and living with some looming anxieties.

    Back in October, I was at the 21 week mark, when we learned the baby had a fatal abnormality (acrania, caused by amniotic bands) and we needed to have the pregnancy terminated.

    I was to have a surgical procedure, but the laminaria placed to expand my uterus caused me to go into labor. My water broke at about 2 in the morning, and we rushed to the hospital. I delivered in a small exam room, heavily medicated after traumatic pain, both physical and emotional.

    While I’m so filled with joy to have another chance at bringing a baby into the world, delivery fills me with dread. I have been suffering with strong PTSD. Reading all of your stories gives me warmth and hope. Thank you!

    • Kadija says...

      Sending you love and light today, girl <3

  7. Amy says...

    I’m late to this post, but loved reading all of the stories! My husband and I really wanted my mom in the room- something about the person that gave birth to me helping me give birth seemed like a wonderful circle of life. I went into labor at 9pm a week before my due date and they live 10 hours away. My mom was so upset that she might miss the birth since they needed to be able to sleep before making the long drive. On a side note, the next day (when I was still in labor), I INSISTED that my dad make a stop on the way through South Carolina for fresh peaches. He was like, “we might miss the birth!” and this long-laboring lady did.not.care. And the first few weeks of my son’s life, my mom cut two peaches up for me to eat every early morning and I love those sweet memories! When I called my sister and told her I was in labor, she jumped in her car and drove until 2am to be with me. She and our doula were so helpful as we were all exhausted at that point. When it came time to push, my sister went to leave and my husband told her that he couldn’t imagine her not being there for the finale. Having my mom and sister in the room was priceless to me. We are so close and I would want exactly the same thing the next time.

    My labor was long (23.5 hours- they said I had to have a c-section at 24!) and started at 9pm.

  8. Charlie says...

    I love reading stories like these! I had a very (very!) quick homebirth where my husband and I did most of the work ourselves. The midwife arrived when was I already urging to push so there was hardly any time for her to set up her things, let alone go to the hospital. For the next baby we are wondering whether my husband will have to do it all by himself, since chances are that delivery will go even faster!

  9. Anna says...

    I had my husband, sister and father all in the room. We were spread out across the UK but I had to be induced so the many hypothetical scenarios we had gone through luckily didn’t become a reality and everyone made it there as the midwife broke my waters. It was around another 12 hours before my son appeared so having a few people there (and my mum in the waiting room) was helpful for everyone. My dad had been a little reluctant to be in the room but he is a paediatric neurologist so I wanted him there ‘just in case’. He mostly stood awkwardly near the door but I ended up needing a ventouse delivery and the junior doctor started telling me about potential complications. My dad was able to quickly reassure me and his presence definitely calmed me. The junior doctor then stayed longer than planned helping with my after care once he found out how senior a doctor my dad was! I’m very thankful for that, and the doctor’s very neat stitches…

  10. Eliz says...

    We had just our two midwives and my husband. (It was a birth in a hospital but with a midwifery team as primary caregivers — which is an awesome option in the area of Canada we live in. They only call an OB into the room if needed.) I just want to tell other women that you don’t HAVE to have your mom there — and don’t feel bad if she’s not part of the D-day plan. I love my mom but she is an expert worrier who tends to raise the stress levels of any room she’s in. I didn’t want her worrywart/worst-case-scenario/second-guessing way of thinking in the delivery room. We also asked our family to give us space for the first few weeks and it was the best decision ever.

  11. Whitney says...

    We don’t have kids yet, but I’m interested in having a doula. How does one find a reliable, well trained one? I’ve looked online, but I’m not sure how to even start asking the right questions, etc…

    • Gigi says...

      I found my doula online at doulamatch.net I interviewed 6 doulas from the website and the one we chose was amazing and PERFECT. We plan to use her again when we have a second child.

  12. kelly ehlers says...

    I thought I’d want my daughter in the room (she was 3 at the time). She gave me a hug before I went into major contractions and went off to bed. My doula, midwife and husband were in the room with me (homebirth in the UK) and my son was born about an hour after my daughter went to bed.

    My midwife kept back while my husband and doula helped me labour. She was amazing and I feel blessed to have the birth I always wanted. My friend calls it a Unicorn birth haha since she doesn’t believe they can exist.

  13. Sasha says...

    Maybe someone who has had a negative birth experience can advise me here? My first labor happened in the ER and the baby was stillborn. It all happened so fast that both my husband, who was there, and I were just in shock. Now I am pregnant again, and although I love my husband, I worry that being present at the labor will just give him PTSD flashbacks. I feel that I will be so busy worrying both about him and the baby. Even for myself, I just wish I can be knocked out and wake up with a healthy living baby. Are there doulas who specialize in people who went through traumatic birth incidents? I just want to shout at people who talk about natural labor that death is a very natural outcome as well.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh, sasha, i’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your first child. how heartbreaking. what was his or her name? i’m thinking of you and sending so much love. i bet there are doulas who specialize in people who went through difficult or tragic births; i’ll look around and see what i can find. and perhaps someone else has suggestions? again, my deepest sympathies for your and your husband’s loss.

    • Tessa says...

      Sasha, I’m so, so sorry for your loss. What you and your husband went through is devastating. Our third baby was stillborn. I did go on to become pregnant again (unexpectedly) and we recently had a healthy fourth baby. To say that that pregnancy was stressful is obviously an understatement. My husband and I ended up seeing a therapist to talk through all the emotions we had experienced and were still experiencing regarding the loss of our daughter and to find ways to cope and be somewhat sane during the pregnancy. We found that to be enormously helpful to us. There is also a programme PALS (Pregnancy After Loss Support) that was started by The Pregnancy Loss Support Program. Here is their web site: https://pregnancyafterlosssupport.com. Though we didn’t look into it for us I am certain there are doulas experienced in pregnancies and births after trauma. I truly hope you and your husband are able to find the support that you are looking for. I’m thinking of you and sending lots of positive thoughts.

    • Lydia says...

      Hi Sasha, I’m so sorry to about the loss of your child at birth.. I know a fantastic doula in the NYC area. I don’t know what her experience is with traumatic births, but she has a lot of experience with many many births and most importantly is a wonderful presence and and woman. Her name is Abby Block – http://www.abbyblock.com
      All the best in your second pregnancy!
      Lydia

    • Sasha says...

      thank you everyone for all the kind words.

    • Sarah says...

      Oh Sasha, I’m so sorry for your loss. While no one can know exactly the contours of your pain, I wanted to tell you I relate.

  14. Mickey says...

    Always love reading these, though honestly a little sad not to hear anything about doulas in the post itself! Of course a doula is not for every woman or family, but I’m so happy to see so many women commenting with their positive experience of doulas. I’m a doula/student midwife who’s loved and followed Cup of Jo for years and have always thought how cool it would be to see more representation of the role we play and of the many different options that exist for care/setting during pregnancy/birth/postpartum on the blog.

  15. emma says...

    My daughter was born almost two years ago. Nothing went as it was supposed to. I was 7 months pregnant but really fit. I was on vacation 500 miles away from home, at my cousin’s, who is also my best friend. My husband was not here : we were having serious trouble at that time, reason why I took some days off far from home.
    But sudently, I began to feel really, really bad. My cousin took me to the ER.
    I had to have an emergency C-section, because I was dying of eclampsia.
    It took doctors two minutes to decide they had to make a C-section. I was totally freaked out. Alone. Absolute terror. I did not even had time to call my husband or my parents. It was about life and death.
    I was lying in this white room, with people hurrying and shouting around me. And then a nurse came and said : “your cousin is here. She has normally no right to be with you but I won’t let you be alone. So, I fought with the doctors, and if you want, she can come in”. I was so, so, so relieved. She was with me when my tiny baby girl was delivered. The day before, she had told me : ” I am sorry, I won’t be able to be with you in two months when you’ll become a mother”. And there she was. In the most magnificent way.
    We were really close friends, this event created something really, really special. She is now the godmother of my daughter.

    • Celeste says...

      Your story made me tear up. I’m so thankful that nurse was there and fought for you and so glad you didn’t have to face such a scary situation alone.

  16. Lindsey Fox Parker says...

    Just wanted to pop back in to say that I (finally) had the baby! Samson Jude was born yesterday morning after two days of labour. Oof. Thanks for the sweet encouragement. I’ve always loved this community. Together we are so powerful. While I was pushing Samson out into the world I was channeling the love and energy of all the strong women in my life, and that includes you guys (even though we’ve never met). So, thank you. Xx
    Lindsey

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Congratulations, Lindsey!!! That’s so wonderful — Samson Jude is the sweetest name.

    • E says...

      Yay, congrats! When I first read your comment I misread it as “two hours of labor,” ha! I’m breastfeeding my baby right this second and I’m so excited for you!

  17. Mikaela says...

    At my second birth, it was an excruciatingly long labor- I labored at home for 36 hours before going to the hospital in rough shape- so ready for it to be over. I’d lost my cool and was banging my head on the headrest in the car on the way.
    When we arrived, my midwife was sent from God, I’m positive. She looked me in the eye and said with such kindness and compassion “Thank you for allowing me the privilege of delivering your baby.” which was so beautiful to me. Then she checked me and said “Ok, we’re going to break your water and you’re going to have this baby.” and it felt like the situation was under control and I could do it again. (My water actually broke on its own while I was walking down the hall to my room) She reminded me to relax and breathe and my baby boy was born just an hour later. I am so grateful for her.

  18. Emma says...

    This post is timely for me, too, since we’re expecting our first baby any day (ok, really, my due date is 10 days away, but I’m soooo ready)! Not only did we decide just to have my husband and the birth team, but we also decided to tell our families that we wanted 3-5 days of bonding time before inviting anyone to come meet our son. I knew my parents would be fine with that, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well my in-laws took that news. I’m looking forward to a few days of honeymoon period at home with the baby (and frequent check-ins from the midwives), and then to having help once the magic wears off and we start to feel overwhelmed. We’re also not planning to tell anyone when I go into labor because I know I won’t be able to relax into labor knowing that friends/family are anxiously and excitedly awaiting news.

    I will say, though, that one of the reasons I chose the birth I did (midwives in an out-of-hospital birth center) was to be sure I’d know the person delivering my baby! We see a practice of midwives who rotate through seeing you through your whole pregnancy and every appointment is about an hour long. They all know me and my husband so well now that I know I’ll feel totally comfortable with any of them when the time comes and I’m at my most vulnerable.

    I loved reading all of these sweet birth stories — they’re making me even more excited to have my own someday very soon!

  19. One of my favorite things about reading this blog is how it feels like a chat with girlfriends :)

    I want our first birth experience to be shared only between my husband and myself (and the doctor/midwife), and for future births I am open to having our children present for the birth of their siblings. I was present for my brother’s birth and it was amazing. I asked to be present (I was 9) and I remain moved by the power and beauty of it to this day. Ideally our babes won’t be that far apart, but I’m open to having any older ones join us!

  20. So I lost my mom five years ago to cancer and as my husband and I get closer to being ready to have kids, I’ve thought about this a lot. Who should be in the room with me? It would be really comforting to have an older woman who’s been through this to be there with me and coach me. My mom would have been that person, but in her stead…? A doula? Are there any other Cup of Jo readers out there who gets how hard it is to do this without our moms?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Your mother sounds like she was a wonderful person. I’m so sorry for your loss, Bethany. Sending a big hug your way.

      I had just Alex in the room and it was really nice. You might consider a doula — so many lovely ladies out there. I’m not sure wher eyou live, but Erica Chidi in LA is amazing: https://www.instagram.com/thisisloom/?hl=en

    • Also, the Christmas Eve story made me cry! That’s the sweetest memory. Her name is perfect.

    • Brenna Wong says...

      Hi Bethany,

      So sorry about your Mum. I lost mine before I had my 3 children and I had my midwife and husband with me. I definitely thought of my Mum throughout the labours but you will be so busy you will be ok.
      Good luck! Your Mum would be so proud of you!

    • Polly says...

      I can’t imagine not having my mom there, she was at both of my births. But the few doulas I’ve met are just wonderful people who would probably really make you feel loved and at peace, which is the most important thing! I had midwives at both of mine as well, but ours aren’t with you all of the time. So I would say absolutely look into doulas. Best wishes!!

    • Amy says...

      I haven’t lost my mom, but I can relate to you. I’m preparing to conceive our first child, and always planned to have my older sister there. She was a nurse, and had a rough delivery – so she always said she’d be there to be my advocate. Fast forward 10 years later, and I held her hand in a Hospital room while a doctor told her there was nothing more they could do to stop her brain tumor from growing. Amongst the sobs and anguish, I cried out “You’re supposed to be there when I have my babies!” She very calmly promised me she would, just from the other side. I don’t know if you believe in any of that (I don’t know if I even do), but it’s a comforting thought nonetheless. ((Hugs))

    • rebecca says...

      I know I am way behind on commenting, but I have this same situation. My mom passed away from cancer in September and I am expecting our first due this coming September.
      I too feel the need for a “mom” there, but know that my mother-in-law is not that person for me.
      I have asked my aunt to be with me, because her humour and personality are so much like my mom’s I know it will be comforting when things feel hard knowing my mom won’t be there.

  21. Courtney says...

    My husband ONLY. But I loved chatting with the nurses about their lives. I was so fascinated that they deliver these miracles everyday and then they go home to help their teen out with homework or cook dinner. Like what?! You just delivered my entire world, changed my life forever, and now you have to go help with some math problems…Nurses are heroes!

    Side note: The TV show, The Office, keeps me oddly very calm and happy. So during the really painful parts of labor, my husband would hold up his iPad and he would be streaming episodes of The Office to distract me.

  22. Oh my gosh that Christmas one is sooo sweet! Kind of scary at the time but I guess when it’s time it’s time !!

  23. My husband was with me all three times, and we had a doula for the first two. In hindsight I’d would also have had a doula for the third (though labor was so quick she probably wouldn’t have made it in time!); there is something so helpful and wonderful and powerful in having a woman in the room who’s sole purpose is to support you, who knows the process and has insight into how you are feeling. I’d recommend to absolutely everyone to have a doula present if possible.

  24. Sarah says...

    For my next labor, I want to be alone. In a tub of hot water, alone.

    I loved my birth team for my last labor (husband, doula, OB, midwife, and nurses), and I would still want them near during delivery. But, leading up to that, its really a journey I have to take by myself. All the interruptions last time, although very well meaning, made it hard to relax and focus on my pain coping.

    • Jo says...

      Thank you for sharing this, Sarah! This resonates with me for some reason. Probably because I’m so cognizant of and impacted by other people’s energy.

  25. Robin says...

    Omg no one but my husband and the midwives! Both my births were unmedicated so it was noisy and (probably this is true even with painkillers) not pretty – I was mostly naked, there was vomit, poop, blood – no way would I have wanted anyone else there. I have such wonderful memories of both births (if not the lead up, the experience of both boys coming out) and I wouldn’t have been able to be so comfortable with anyone else in the room.

  26. I’ve always thought the idea of having your family, specifically your parents in the room with you was weird, and I still do, as I was literally only wearing a bra when active labor finally started (after a long induction process). It was just my husband and I in solitude for most the time. We were finally joined by our doula when it kicked into high gear. The true stars of my L&D were the amazing nurses.

  27. Karen says...

    I am a midwife myself and my second baby was born at home, we were preparing to go to the hospital when my water broke and she announced herself. It was just me and my husband, and he did amazing, we were a great team. But I just wished we had somebody there to take care of me, to reassure me through those overwhelming moments right before she was born. I don’t think we’ll have another baby, but if we did, I would maybe plan it at home, with a midwife and my husband by my side.

    We used garden rope for the umbilical cord. Should’ve thought about the dental floss, like Jenny did. Much more elegant…

  28. elainepill says...

    Ii had both my daughters at home.
    for the first birth, my mom, husband, midwife (who is my sister in law) and her midwifery partner were there. it was great. I think my mom will always remember seeing her first grandchild born.
    for the second birth, i had one of my sisters there, as well as our now 2 and 1/2 year daughter and sister-in-law midwife and midwifery partner. my niece came to watch our daughter during the birth but fell asleep. our daughter stayed up all night. :-)
    both births were great and i wouldn’t have had them any other way.

  29. Katie says...

    Such great timing on this post. I’m due any day and trying to figure out how to bring this baby in the world (if I have any say) without neglecting my other baby. My husband, 2 year old, and I moved a plane ride away from all of our friends and family right before I got pregnant, so we don’t really have a network of people to reach out to for help in this situation. For my first birth, I thought it would just be my husband and I in the room but when I let my friends and family know I was in labor, they all showed up to the hospital for support and ended up wanting to stick around for the birth so it was quite a party in the delivery room. They recorded it all and toasted with champagne and it was such a happy time – I love to look back on it. This whole pregnancy I’ve thought it will be nice to do something different and just have my husband and I in the room but now all I can think about is how I’m probably going to be alone in the room when my baby is born while my husband is home with our son and that just seems so painfully sad. Does anyone do that? Is it ok to do that? Ah!

    • Ohhh I hope someone can watch your son so your husband can be with you (and give support). If you’re in NYC I’ll babysit! Other city? Maybe another CoJ reader will watch him? xoxo and happy happy!

    • Capucine says...

      My daughter was newly four when my son was born. We had a home birth. She wanted to be there so…I hired her a doula. I couldn’t hit on another way; anyone else who could do it, I didn’t want around me in labor. It cost $600. It was a home-run choice, the doula woke her up when I was pushing, held her in her lap while her brother was born, and pitched in helping me afterwards with sips of tea etc. My midwife had to do a sweep for the placenta and my husband took my daughter out to the living room for that. I think a two year old, I wouldn’t likely do it with, but you know your kid best. Just putting it out there as an idea.

    • Anne says...

      I feel for you, I had this same issue with my second. We had it a bit easier in that our closest family was just a couple hours away and not a plane ride. But I had a really quick labour and my sister barely made it here in time for us to get to hospital (he was born minutes after arriving). My advice is bring the 2 year old too. If your hospital has a no kids in the delivery room rule, your son and husband could at least be in the waiting room and run in right after the new baby is born. That said, L&D nurses are amazing so you’ll have support even if your husband doesn’t make it.

    • Barbara says...

      Katie, I don’t know you, but I can imagine you are a wonderful person! I’m sure any neighbor with kids (aka, someone that you could consider trustworthy with YOUR kid) would be more than happy to help you out in this situation! I would if you were my neighbor. You could call them to come sit with your 2 year old and then bring him to the hospital.

      That being said, it’s ok to do whatever you want! If you want to bring him along, do it. If you want your husband to stay home with him and just rely on the hospital staff, that’s ok, too! Best, best wishes on your new arrival!

    • I totally know where you’re coming from. I got pregnant with our second daughter two weeks after we moved from California to Amsterdam. I gave birth two months ago, and literally leading right up to it I was stressing over who would take care of our 21 month old daughter when I went into labor. We had a handful of people lined up to watch her based on when labor actually started, but I never really felt “covered” the way you do when family is close by… y’know? I was very lucky in that my mom ended up flying out last-minute for just three days while she was off work and I miraculously happened to go into labor 24 hours before she had to fly back to California. I’m sure it will all work out for you as well, but I can completely empathize with the stress of trying to figure that all out when you don’t know WHEN labor is coming and how uncomfortable it is to trust someone with your babies (not to mention potentially calling on them at 3am to do so!)

    • Taylor says...

      I want you to know that you’re not the only one who has been in this kind of situation! I would recommend finding a doula or babysitter to stay with #1 while #2 is coming. Maybe you could have this person come over a couple of times before you deliver so that your little one will get to know them and be comfortable?

      I ended up having my stepfather come out for a week (my older daughter adores him). He flew in around my due date, but my baby wasn’t quite ready to budge even though I had been 3cm dilated for a week! This is somewhat controversial, but we had a “normal”/healthy pregnancy and ended up inducing just so that the baby would arrive in time for him to be here and help us– he could only stay for a week.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      katie, please tell us how it works out! we are rooting for you!

  30. Ella says...

    I was in the room with my sister for the last 2 of her 5 births and it was magical. Our mom was there for the first 3. Her husband was there for all 5 and calmly sat in a chair by the bed quietly, smiling and telling her she was “all good” while I sat on the bed holding her up and wiping sweat. The midwives were amazing and calm and it made me feel so much closer to not only my sister and her daughters but also all women and the experience that we go through as female. When I give birth I will absolutely have her there with me.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that sounds amazing, ella!

  31. Ramona says...

    The only family member present in the room when I gave birth was my husband, and he was my total rock and helper. But that said, I also want to also mention the nurses who support total strangers every day as if they are family members. I will never forget the kindness of a nurse who kept bringing me fresh stacks of blankets that she warmed up in the dryer when I was in labor and something about the drugs or the IV was making me freezing cold to the point where I could not stop shivering. Even though my mom wasn’t there it honestly felt like I had a mother in the room with me because of the way the nurses were caring for me. Nurses are total angels.

  32. Hannah says...

    Where are all the doulas and midwives?!

  33. Megan says...

    I thought about this a lot during my pregnancy! Of course my husband was the most importante person for me, and I didn’t really want anyone else. Except… my OB group meant that I wouldn’t know which doctors and nurses would be present, which made me super nervous, so I wanted someone familiar to me AND familiar with birth to help us through. So we decided to have a doula. She was AMAZING! She had this way of anticipating our needs (mine and my husband’s), suggesting just the right thing, and keeping me totally calm and centered. Thanks to her I labored comfortably at home until 9 cm!

  34. Kristen says...

    I just had my husband (and awesome nurse and doctor) in the delivery room with me, as our immediate family members all live out of town. Even if I had wanted to have my mom and sis there with me, it would not have been possible, as my sister – who lives on the West Coast (and I’m on the East Coast) – and I were both due with our babies within a couple of days of each other (which was super special and has been SO wonderful to share with her)! Thankfully, my labor was very quick (I texted my mom at 9 pm, telling her I thought I was in labor and was waiting for a call back from the doctor, and I made it to the hospital and had my son at 11:59 pm!) But, my husband did a really great job of telling me I was doing a great job for those couple of hours. :) And my nurse was amazing at helping me get through my contractions while my husband was moving the car! (He had left to go move the car after we were checked in and settled in the L&D room, as required by the hospital… but before we realized I was already completely dilated!)

    Anyway, thank you so much for this post. It has been a pleasure to read all of the lovely birth stories.

  35. I think I would only want my husband in the room. His entire family would want to be in the waiting room though, that’s just how they are. Lots of family who are waiting very patiently for us to get married and have kids ASAP since we got engaged last year. I have already told him I’d prefer he stay up by my head and not look at anything below my neck, but sometimes I wonder if it would be good for him to keep an eye on the doctors to make sure everything is going okay? Sounding too paranoid here? I guess it really depends on how much I trust my doctor (s) at that point.

    • Sara B says...

      I felt this exact same way, but when it came down to it in the heat of labor, I didn’t care who saw what. It’s funny how all of a sudden those things aren’t important in that moment.

    • Rachel S says...

      I agree! With my first, before the labor, I was like, “Don’t you dare move away from my head!” Once it was all happening though, I didn’t care AT ALL. Even if he does stand by your head, he will still see a lot of what’s going on down there! There is a lot of gross stuff happening but it is also so beautiful and miraculous! In the end, that’s all either of you will think about. :)

    • Gigi says...

      I told hubby to not look down – hell, I didn’t want to look down myself! But in the heat of labor, believe me, he saw everything! I’m kept my eyes closed until baby made his full appearance and I am still thankful I didn’t see everything for myself. (I probably would have fainted.) Once the baby was on my chest, I just stared at him and let the doctor do his work.

  36. I’m about to give birth (38 weeks and 3 days!) and we’ve already established that only my husband and my mother are allowed in the l&d room. Even then, my mom is more of a relief support for my husband.

  37. Katie says...

    I’ve completed most of my labor doula training, but feel like I would be in the way of a sacred experience between 2 new parents…

    • Paula says...

      haha, dude, no. It was a sacred experience with a first kid… but it was also educational. So with the second one I got a doula! Here’s why! My husband, love him to death, completely fell apart during the birth process. He was touching me (DO NOT TOUCH ME WHEN I’M IN LABOR) he was telling me sweet nothings (DO NOT WHISPER IN MY EAR WHEN I’M IN LABOR) and other fun stuff! See, two people who love each other have no idea how they will act when they are in the delivery room. I thought I was going to be the cynical myself, and that he was going to be the manly rock himselt. He fell apart, snot coming out of his nose, total emotional basket case, and my fight or flight instinct kicked in super strong and I just wanted to be OUT OF THERE and NOT PREGNANT. The second birth was exactly what I wanted, my husband, there but really hanging with the doula, the doula doing all the massages, touching, talking for me/with me. So kudos to you-it’s a big job! Good luck!

    • Sasha says...

      It is sacred. But it’s also usually just a whole lot of work. Back rubbing, hip squeezing, puke bucket emptying, affirming, juice sips, ticking, holding, wiping years and sweat….helping negotiate “is it time to go?” “Do I really want that?” “How much longer?”
      Most often you will be too busy working your tail off, in the middle of the night, to worry about sacred interruption. But then, magically, the sacred will insert itself and you’ll see it. But you’ll realize you are a part of it too.
      Anyone who hires you, NEEDS you there.

    • Paula, this is hilarious! I felt similarly, though not as strongly as you: it just seemed like my husband didn’t know how to touch me, but the doula was perfect! I also found some of my husband’s “helpful” words to be really annoying, so I sometimes tuned him out and listened to the doula instead. Though maybe this just says something about my relationship!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love this thread :)

    • Amy says...

      Doulas are godsends! The parents hire a doula because they want someone who can help and champion for their needs. My labor started at night and went 24 hours. We could never have made it without ours!

  38. My birth situation was not ideal…the plan was for my sons father to be the only one in the room. Due to unforeseen circumstances, that didn’t happen. Instead, my son was welcomed into this world by a group of wonderful loving women (my mom, aunt, grandma, and his dad’s mother). Sometimes God intervenes in a beautiful way.

  39. Alex McKellar says...

    Unfortunately giving birth to a child was not to happen for me, however I was lucky enough to be there for the birth of one of my nephews and also for my friends first daughter. Both experiences were unbelievably beautiful. I can understand why it really is different for every woman – it is such a personal choice and every woman should be careful not to feel they should do it a certain way because of what other people want.

  40. Jane says...

    When I was pregnant with my first child, I met with a doula who is also a friend and was considering going that route. As the pregnancy progressed and I thought more about it, I decided that I wanted my mom to be there, along with my partner. My mom has always been a grounding force in my life, and she exudes calm. Though I think a doula would have be a great choice too, I’m so glad to have had my mother and partner there- they each held a leg while I pushed! And the second time around, just 7 months ago, I had them both there again.
    Just a few days ago, my mom sent me this entry from a favourite blog of
    hers, which recounts a mom’s feelings about being with her daughter when she gave birth. The email was titled “how I feel about you,” and I could cry all over again just thinking about it. Worth a read: http://www.yarnharlot.ca/2017/04/on-the-outside/

  41. Dana says...

    I work as a sign language interpreter and have been in the room for five births to interpret between the medical staff and one or both of the new parents. I am always hyper-aware of the space that I take up in that room–that I get to be in that moment when a mom or sister or best friend doesn’t. It’s an incredible, intimate honor.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that’s incredible, dana!!!