There are so many decisions to make when preparing for the birth of your baby. One decision that should not be taken lightly or left to chance is inviting others into the room for your childbirth.

How do I choose my birth team?

Before making this decision there are some basic considerations to take into account. If this is not your first delivery, you have an idea of what to expect during the birthing process. But the people you choose to be with you may not have experienced a birth. Here are some things to think about, discuss with your spouse, and then discuss with anyone else you want in the birth room.

Childbirth is not a spectator sport

Dr. Jonathan Hulme - an OBGYN who has been practicing in Houston, Texas for nearly thirty years - says that more than four people in the room, besides the mother and newborn, can become distracting. "Her first and most important area of focus is giving birth to her baby and then bonding with the newborn." He suggests having the baby's father and then - in descending order of importance - the mother's mother, her sister, her father, her parents-in-law, or a close friend.

How comfortable do you feel with this person?

Remember, those in the birth room will:

1) See your lady parts, witness when you lose control of bodily functions and possibly lose control of your sanity and begin screaming at them. Will you still have a good relationship with them after this?

2) Need to be your advocate to the nurses and doctor. Are they ready to be brave and step up to the plate to fight for your needs and wishes?

3) Need to bring a calming presence. This will be a beautiful but intense experience. Your person must be able to handle the entire experience without becoming agitated themselves.

Does this person want to be in the delivery room with you?

This person needs to be someone who will not freak out at the blood and possible hysterics of the mother. Are they able to handle the intensity that accompanies a birth? As Dr. Hulme points out, the hospital does not want a third patient in the room, someone who passes out and then has to be attended to along with the mother and newborn.

Will this person honor your wishes?

This person will need to remember why they're there

. It is not uncommon for a person attending the birth (mother of the laboring woman, mother-in-law, or husband) to pressure the mother-to-be not to get an epidural. Dr. Hulme has strong opinions about this. "Whether she chooses to have an epidural should be her decision, not strongly influenced by anyone else, since she is the one going through the pain of the birth process." Pressuring the mother is counter-productive and should never occur.

Always remember that the real focus and priority are the mother and the newborn, then the father if he is present. They are the most important individuals in the birthing room.

The goal of every person in the birth room should be to help keep you comfortable, relaxed, and confident that you can and will get through the beautiful and amazing process of birth.

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