Who you welcome into your birth isn’t something anyone else can decide for you. While the birth of a baby is a miraculous and incredible experience to witness, depending on your personality and preferences, it is also a deeply intimate and private moment. Some of you may want every mother, aunt and best friend that can make it to surround you in a circle of love and support, others of you may not even be sure you want your own partner there for the event, or perhaps you’re really not sure who to invite into this sacred space. Whoever you decide to open your birth space to matters, and there are a number of factors that we think you should consider.
Will you feel free to be yourself? And by yourself, we mean: free to express yourself however you may instinctively do so in labor. Perhaps in your day to day you’re pretty put together, but we know that labor isn’t necessarily a graceful or glamorous event. There’s a lot of noise, nudity, and probably even some poop, and feeling uninhibited is essential. Ina May Gaskin talks about the “Sphincter Law” of birth, and references that the ‘sphincter’ of birth (the cervix), acts similarly to other bodily sphincters (think: washroom with a magazine). Just like we need to feel uninhibited to efficiently do our business in the bathroom, in the same way, the cervix responds to the disruption of privacy by delaying dilation and ultimately slowing labor. If you feel like this may be an issue for you, think twice about who you say ‘yes’ to.
Are they going to bring their experiences or beliefs into your birth? Unbiased support is essential. Whether positive or negative, the experiences of others need to stay out of your birth. You’re preferences and choices for labor are the only thing that should be considered, so it’s important to be sure that whoever accompanies you is leaving all judgment at the door. Is your mother going to have an emotional breakdown seeing you in pain? Is your best friend going to guilt you out of the epidural you had already decided on? Are they on board with your birth plan and ready to see you through? There’s no question the people that love you and want to support you mean well, but it’s up to you to decide if they’re the best thing for your birth.
Who are you saying ‘yes’, for? This is your birth, remember? There’s no question it is an incredibly meaningful event for the people that love you most, as well as an honor and privilege of anyone who you welcome in, but the only person that should truly be considered is you: what you want, what is best for you, what will serve your birth and leave you feeling safe, supported, and empowered.
Having doula-care in labor; knowledgeable, judgment free, and compassionate support, is linked to better birth outcomes: quicker labors, lower rates of cesarean sections or interventions, and a greater overall satisfaction with your birth experience. Whether it’s your mother, sister, doula or friend, make sure whoever you bring into your birth-day meet the criteria that ensure they are the right fit.