An expectant mum has taken to the internet, asking for advice on how to keep her in-laws out of the delivery room so she can birth her baby in (relative!) peace.
“I’m pregnant and my husband is forcing me to let his parents in the delivery room, but I don’t want that. What should I do?” she posted to popular Q&A forum, Quora.
Ugh. Anyone who has been at a birth, given birth or can imagine giving birth will know why this mum is keen to keep her birth attendants to a tiny few she’s chosen herself. Not only are women in pain and very vulnerable when they’re in labour and birthing their bubs, they’re going through some physical processes that many prefer to keep between them, their partner and medical staff.
While it’s not clear exactly why this poor woman feels coerced – or indeed “forced” – into complying, it is clear that other women had some very strong feelings about her dilemma and were keen to help.
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Issue a challenge?
Some were keen to sign her partner up for some exposure therapy, in a bid to help him understand why in-laws in the delivery room are not his choice to make.
“Tell your husband that before you’ll allow his parents in the room to labor and delivery, he must stand naked and also produce a bowel movement in front of your parents,” a passionate commenter posted. “He must remain naked, spread-eagle for at least 12 hours. If he accepts this challenge, allow his parents.”
Look, that’s funny because it’s true, but jokes aside … a mum’s wishes should be enough. Let’s take a woman’s word for it if they let us know certain people should not be at their birth.
Others urged her take the first step into a new life – as a protective and vocal mama bear – with one mum explaining that when she asked nurses for advice on a post-delivery issue relating to family visiting a newborn, she was given the cold hard helpful truth.
“I’ll never forget what the nurse said: ‘You’re a mama now. Congratulations. Now grow a pair of balls.'”
Gulp. In those vulnerable pregnancy and postpartum days, this is easier said then done. (And also impossible/inadvisable because women and balls are not a thing, but we get her point.)
We’re of the view that women often need help to advocate for themselves when there’s a new baby in the mix, so let’s facilitate that, rather than ball-growing. There’s no shame in being vulnerable and struggling to make sense of the avalanche of new decisions and situations that present themselves when you become a parent. There is no shame in asking for help.
Unsurprisingly, this is not the first time in-laws tried to muscle into the birthing room and it won’t be the last. A letter from a mother-in-law sent to agony aunt Dear Prudence, asserting that being refused the opportunity to watch her first grandchild being born was a snub, was met with this sage response:
“Your daughter-in-law is giving birth, which is a pretty difficult, painful, and intimate process. She has every right to plan ahead for just how many people she wants to be in the room for that. This is not about you.”
We couldn’t agree more. Listen to mums.