Deciding who will be in the delivery room is an important decision to make, and you might not fully make that decision until you’re in labor. However, knowing the restrictions set by your hospital or who you think you want for support can be made now before you have your baby.
Nowadays, most hospitals don’t restrict labor and delivery rooms to just the mother and her partner. Families often decide to bring in other people, such as a doula, the mother’s mom, or even a sibling.
Typically, how many people can be in the delivery room depends on the hospital’s policy, as well as how you will deliver and the room you are in. Some rooms accommodate more people than others.
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Ask Your Doctor About the Hospital’s Policy
The best person to ask this question is your doctor. Either your doctor or hospital will have some policy about the number of people in the delivery room. They don’t want your entire family and all your friends to come to a party in the delivery room!
You can also ask this question if you decide to take a hospital tour, which I highly suggest that you do. I took all of my hospital tours around 34-36 weeks. That allows you to ask questions of the nursing staff and find out how things will go when you have your baby.
In general, a standard hospital policy states that you can have two or three people in the delivery room. Some hospitals indicate you can only have two people, but a majority allow a maximum of three people.
I was able to attend my sister’s delivery of my niece, and our local hospital allows three people in the room. However, as an attendee, I do advise that you be respectful of the staff and the mother. They have an essential job to do, and we need to be sure not to get in their way of any crucial tasks that need to be finished.
Laboring Room vs. The Birth
You should ask your doctor or nurses if they have a different policy regarding who can be present while you are laboring. Some hospitals allow more people into your room if you are laboring but then impose a limit when it is time to give birth. That makes sense because during labor, there is fewer medical personnel in the room, and the mother might want support.
Generally, the staff asks guests to leave during procedures such as vaginal exams or during the placement of an epidural.
The one time that you are almost guaranteed only to be allowed one person to accompany you is when you have a c-section. I have had four c-sections, and I was only allowed to have one person with me. I chose my husband all four times for obvious reasons.
It’s important to remember that you are in an operating room, not just a delivery room. These rooms are small and not designed to hold extra people. The one person who will accompany with you needs to sit or stand near your head and avoid getting in the way of the nurses who are helping with your surgery.
However, if you end up needing general anesthesia, chances are everyone will need to wait outside of the operating room.
Deciding Who You Want to Be in the Delivery Room with You
Picking who you want in the room with you is a big deal. You might only want your partner in the room, and that’s perfectly okay. The birth of your child is a big deal, and it’s intense and intimate. There is nothing wrong with desiring to have separate time together.
On the other hand, you might like the idea of having your mother, grandmother, sister, or best friend with you. There is strength in numbers, and having people to support you is empowering. Your mother can be there to help rub your back, hold your hand, or get you more ice when you need it.
The most important thing is only to select people who will be supportive and respectful of your decisions.
For example, if you want to keep your baby on your chest for the first hour and let her naturally breastfeed, that is your decision. Your family should not be asking to hold the baby or pushing you to give the baby to a member of the staff.
When I was in labor with my first and second children (I did end up with a c-section for both of these labors), I had my mother, my spouse, and my sister with me. I liked the support and encouragement I received.
It’s Okay to Change Your Mind
If you tell your best friend that she can be in the delivery room but change your mind when you’re in labor, that’s okay!
Everything changes when you are finally in labor. Your mood might be different than you imagined. You might have difficult labor and not feel interested in having visitors.
On the other hand, you might end up wanting that support and asking for people in the room. Give yourself the mental freedom to follow what feels best to you when you’re in labor. Changing your mind is fine, and the staff, along with your partner, should help support you.
Does The Father Have to Be in the Delivery Room?
No, the father of your child does not have to be in the delivery room if you don’t want him to be. The nursing staff will respect any choices that you make, and if you don’t desire his presence, then you can ask him to leave, or he can opt to wait in the waiting room.
Most partners do opt to stay in the delivery room to watch the delivery of their child. Years ago, it was uncommon for fathers to be in the delivery room, but that has dramatically changed.
Setting Visitation Rules
Not only do you have to think about who can be in the delivery room, but you also need to think about visitation rules once your baby arrives. You might not want people to cram into your room to see your baby when you just finally got to meet her.
Here are some suggestions.
- Only tell a select few people that you are in labor to limit who will come to the hospital to wait for you to give birth. That places too much pressure on you to allow them into the room immediately after delivery.
- Ask for everyone to give you a call and ask if it’s a good time to visit you and the baby.
- Let people know that you might want a few hours alone with the baby and your partner before allowing anyone else to meet the baby. This might make some people upset, such as your parents, but they will live. Stay firm with what you want, and they’ll eventually get over the disappointment.
- Avoid children visiting aside from your children. Kids tend to be germ carriers, and you don’t want a sick cousin coming and sneezing on your child. So, unless they’re your kids visiting their brand new sibling, have the kids wait to meet the baby.
- Remind everyone that if they have any signs of illnesses at all, they need to stay home and not visit the hospital. Now is not the time to get the baby sick.
When I had my c-sections, my parents and my husband’s parents waited in the waiting room. Soon after delivery, my husband went out to inform them that the baby and I were okay, but we didn’t allow them to come back to recovery just yet.
My husband and I like to spend the first hour or two in recovery alone with our new baby. I have skin to skin time, and so does he – yes, dad’s can do skin to skin as well!
Then, we allow them to come back two at a time to see the new baby. As for other visitors, we wait until I am in my larger stay room. My other kids visited first to see their new baby siblings, and my sister came down as well. We asked all other guests to wait for the second day to stop by to give me time to recover and to allow us to have privacy with our new baby.
In the United States, there is no one hard-set rule about how many people can be in the delivery room. It is based on each hospitals’ policies, the doctor’s policy, and how you give birth. Be sure to talk to your doctor or take a tour of the hospital first to come up with a plan before you have your baby.