Monday, July 30, 2012

Who Gets to Be in On The Labor?

I always ask my clients to consider ahead of time who is going to be in the labor and delivery room suite. There is a difference between a labor and the actual pushing and delivery. Some folks want to be alone, just the two of them and the healthcare professionals. Some want a mom ( usually the woman's ) and some want that mom for the labor but not the delivery. 

So how do you tell Mom number 2 ( the guy's ) that she isn't invited to the party? And how do you tell Mom number 1 that she's being asked to leave at the apogee of the event? What about those long suffering dads?  Sisters? BFFs?

I think that the prospective parents are the ones that should share the labor and delivery. Alone. I think it's not fair play to invite some and not others. And I think it's crucial to let everyone know how you want it to be, way before it actually happens. There is nothing so disconcerting as a major mother meltdown when it's time to deliver your baby. Because she ( they ) didn't  realize she wasn't part of plan.

Honesty is always the best policy. Who said that? Were they ever wise. Tell your parents in a loving way, how you want your labor and delivery to be. Tell them that your choices do not reflect in anyway how you feel about them and that this is no indication of a smoldering rift between you. Reassure them that this doesn't mean that you don't want them to be an integral part of your young new family. Let them know that they are very important to you but that you want to start this new phase of your life alone, for just a couple hours or so. And then they can "have" the baby. Since it is all about the baby!

I always suggest calling the family after the birth and after you have been moved to the postpartum room. It can be very difficult for your significant other to run interference back and forth from the family waiting room. And it can be hours and hours. It also is quite a commotion when the baby finally arrives and your family is told that you want to bond as a family and that they can see the baby " in a little while ". 

Nothing is nicer than a calm, peaceful rest with your newborn after the
chaos and high emotion of labor and delivery. Take time to get to know each other. By the time you get to postpartum, when your infant is kind of sleepy, wash your face, change your gown, brush your teeth and then you'll be prepared for the congratulations and good wishes.

Anyone can visit on the postpartum unit and unlike labor and delivery the hospital is much more forgiving about the numbers of guests who pop in. There are no set visiting hours. And well children are allowed. Remember to ask everyone visiting to use the hand sanitizer near the door. And don't be coy about how long your visitors should stay. Dads are often best at suggesting that visitors should limit their visits and come back again later, so you can rest.

Emotions run high and feelings get hurt, all around. Try to prevent misunderstandings and don't be defensive about asserting your rights as the members of this new family. It probably will help to remind everyone to patient with you and remember how it was when they had their baby. Things are more liberal now than they ever have been in labor, delivery and postpartum. Bask in the pride that your parents feel for you and acknowledge their love and the love and gratitude that you feel for them. Then send them down for some food and remind them to bring back a sandwich for you.