Call me smart or just OCD (or rude! my mom thought this letter about birth etiquette below was rude), but today I sent out a letter to the people attending my birth that aren’t medically involved (aka my birth team). I am totally stoked to have a homebirth and that I get to have these special people witness our daughter’s birth, but at the same time I want to make the experience as pleasant as possible for all.
Since I’ve been at more births than the average gal, I thought I’d share some wisdom with my invited birth witnesses on birth etiquette.
Here’s the letter that I sent out.
Birth Etiquette: Letter to Birth Team
Hello Lovely Ladies!
I am so excited that each of you has been granted access to the birth of our baby girl. As my mother knows, I am a very private person ESPECIALLY when it comes to my lady bits (who gets to see them and who doesn’t). You and what you bring to my birth experience is so special that you all have been approved to see my lady bits. Consider yourself amazingly awesome to be worthy of being in my lady bits’ presence. 😉
Since some of you have never attended a birth before, let alone a homebirth, I thought I would write you some tips to make everybody’s experience more pleasant. If you find this offensive just remember that birth is sorta my territory and it would make sense that I would be slightly OCD about this process. I think about birth a lot!
If homebirth/natural childbirth semi-freaks you out, please watch the documentary The Business of Being Born. If you really like it, watch the next series of films on Netflix entitled More Business of Being Born part I part II part III or part IV.
The main purpose of being at a birth is to see a baby being born. However, the baby won’t come unless I get her outta there so I’ll need all the help I can get.
How to help a laboring woman isn’t the easiest of tasks… heck, I teach classes on how to do just that. Here’s a short list of ways to be most helpful to me.
Birth Etiquette Tips
• The fewer questions you ask me, the better. If you need me to do something, just tell me. I’ll choose whether to do it or not.
• Don’t draw attention to yourself – no flashy clothing, loud talking, strong perfumes, etc.
• Please help me protect my birth space by being silent when I have contractions, chitchatting in another room where I can’t hear you (unless of course I am chitchatting with you), and not allowing anybody else in the house unless they’ve been invited.
• Please don’t update facebook about what’s going on. I’ll announce the birth on facebook when I feel like it.
• If you’re going to be physically close to me and talk, please be mindful about your breath. Consider brushing your teeth/chewing gum/sucking on a mint.
• I’m going to need a high protein meal after I give birth. Anybody interested in helping me make that happen?
• Help yourself to any food I have in the house. If you can, make sure to offer food and drinks to everybody who is present. I would love that!
• I need my washing machine to be emptied by the time she is born. My dryer is in the carport.
• Matt’s job is to set up and empty the birth pool. Feel free to help him out. I’m sure he’ll need it. 😉
• I really like music when I am in labor. I like Watermark, Hillsong, Bethel Music, Sarah McLachlan, etc. I’ll have CDs out and my iPhone which can stream Pandora via my tv or docking station.
• I need to be kept hydrated. Please offer me water or water with electrolyte cubes frequently. Use a straw and just put it in front of my face and say, “take a sip!”.
• I love words of encouragement! However, one person at a time please. I don’t need a squad of cheerleaders shouting at me when I’m pushing a baby out of my vagina.
• If you want, remind me to “breathe for my baby” or take “deep slow breaths”. Be specific when helping me to relax. Saying “drop your shoulders” is more helpful than just saying “relax”.
• Just because I teach childbirth classes and am a doula doesn’t mean that I won’t need ideas or suggestions. Birth is hard and I’ll definitely need help. I’m so glad you’ll be there!
Birth Etiquette Rule
One of my “rules” about people being at a birth is that whoever is there needs a role or something to do. Please, make yourself useful and whatever you do don’t just sit and stare at me (unless I’m pushing then gawk away). If something needs to be done, go ahead and do it. I won’t be hostessing, so I’m hoping you all can hostess yourselves.
My address is ***** and my cell is *****. Matt’s cell is *****. Both of us have unlimited texting/minutes.
Mr. G will either be a) sleeping b) with my neighbor ***** who lives three houses East of me c) with my mom at the birth or d) with my mom doing something more interesting than watching a boring birth.
My due date is 12/13/12 and I will be “full term” on Thanksgiving day. What that means is that I have a green light to have my baby at home from Thanksgiving day on. Odds are, I won’t have her that early but you never know. Birth is full of surprises!
See you soon!
PS – Who wants to encapsulate my placenta for me? 😉
UPDATE: Here’s my daughter’s birth story! Check it out.
Wednesday 31st of October 2018
Thank you so much for writing this! I have been plagued with anxiety as my last birth experience was a perfect home birth except for the fact my family and friends were beyond intrusive. They took over my house and turned it into a watch party. The photos are atrocious and everyone was misbehaved. Though, I know they were only acting out of love and concern, I do not want a repeat. I wish to feel safe and secure, not like animal in a zoo. Thank you for outlining how to set these boundaries and relay appropriate expectations for others.
Monday 5th of November 2018
You're very welcome! Best wishes to you!
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