The conversation usually starts with a client asking, “Who can I have at my birth?”, but the answer to that question isn’t really what they’re looking for since my response is, “Anyone you want!”. I then help them to rephrase their question so they can ask what they’re really wanting to know…..“Who should I have at my birth?” And that’s a great question, but not one that I can answer for them…
To help my mamas figure out who they should invite to their births, I turn the tables and ask them a few questions:
1. When you picture your ideal birthing experience, who is there with you?
2. Is the person you’re planning to invite supportive of out-of-hospital birth? Do they understand why you’re choosing this way of birthing vs. going to a hospital?
3. Do you feel comfortable speaking bluntly and honestly around them without fear of reproach or hurting their feelings?
4. Would you feel comfortable being vulnerable and naked in front of this person?
5. Are you inviting this person for your benefit, or because they want to be invited?
6. What does this person bring to the table in terms of helping you and enhancing your experience?
After they’ve answered these questions, the client will usually know whether or not they should invite that person to their birth. Once we sort out who is on the “yes” list, we discuss the number of people they want to invite. One of the midwives who taught me when I was first learning had a saying that I’ve found to be quite accurate over the years…. “For every additional, unnecessary person who is present at a birth, add an hour to the mother’s labor time”. The reason for this is that the mother tends to feel she is on display and therefore more likely to stay present in her consciousness, rather than letting her instincts kick in and take over.
But who is considered “unnecessary”? Only the mother herself can answer that. I’ve attended births where anyone other than the midwife was considered unnecessary and another where all 25 people in attendance were vital and exactly what that mother needed. It solely depends on how you picture your birth.
So whether you’re thinking about having a doula, photographer, massage therapist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, mother, mother-in-law, sisters, friends, or your pet dog (yes, I have had several mamas give birth while cuddling their canine companion! J ), choose wisely and make sure the decision is what you want and what will help create the birthing experience of your dreams.