Giving Birth Is Not A Party

Giving birth is not a party.

It sounds stupid to even say it, but it seems like people have forgotten what birth is really about.

Birth is not about having a get together with all your family and friends. It’s not about who is there to see it (except mom-to-be, her partner and her midwife or doctor.) It’s not about making sure everyone has a good time and goes home happy. It’s not about who has hurt feelings when they don’t get an invite. And there certainly aren’t any goody-bags.

It’s about having a baby. It’s about a woman getting a pretty large object out of her body. It’s about two intertwined lives becoming individual. It’s about the start of a brand new life.

I know, I’ve done it three times and on the brink of doing it a fourth time and, frankly, I’m tired of people thinking that my giving birth has anything to do with them and their feelings. It’s about me getting my baby out of my body as healthily as possible.

Some women spend a lot of time thinking about exactly what kind of birth they want, where they want to be at each moment and who they want to be there. I’m no exception and after four pregnancies, I’ve done my share of planning and creating expectations.  But this time, it’s just about having a baby.

I just want to be healthy at the end of it.  I just want my baby to be healthy, too.  I don’t want the drama involved with having a lot of people around.  I don’t want to babysit or entertain other people while I’m waiting for the big day (I’ve already got three kids.)

But people seem to forget that birth is about the mother and baby, no one else.

This upcoming birth is purely about my experience. It’s about my life, my health, my baby.  My birth is not a social event.  It’s not something anyone should feel automatically invited to.

Giving birth is hard and it’s made even harder when you have too many eyes, ears and opinions in the room. It’s made harder when you’re worried about everyone else’s feelings instead of your own. It’s made harder when, on your big day, you’re not the center of attention.

So if you know someone who is pregnant, remember: her birth is not a party. She is under no obligation to invite you into the birthing room whether she’s your daughter, sister, neighbor or best friend. Unless you helped get the baby in there or have been hired to assist with getting the baby out, she is under no obligation to let you in (and even then, she is in full control of when and where you are welcome to be.)

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  • When I was 8 months pregnant I saw my hairdresser for a final trim since I knew I wouldn’t have time after delivery. She gushed about how her labor was so fun and they had a party in the room with her husband, sister-in-law, mom, bff, etc. She said her epidural was magical and made everything “so super fun.” I had, for the past 3 months gone through the Bradley course, hoping for a natural birth, giving baby the best start possible, at my (painful) expense. I explained this to her and she told me I was silly because the epidural made it an easy, painless party. Her comment still pains me to this day. 🙁

  • Wow I guess my family is different. My mother never even mentioned being in the delivery room with me or any of my sisters when we all had our children. Between me and my sisters there are 9 grandchildren. My sisters never even mentioned anything like this about their MIL either. It was just me and my husband and the same for my sisters. I can’t believe how awful people are and how they want to make it all about themselves. My sympathies to all of you who have had to deal with this terrible issue.

  • Omg!! Yes!! With my first I just wanted my husband and my mom. With my second my mom had my older son and brought him to visit right after the baby was born. I didn’t want anyone else waiting in the waiting room ready to pounce on my time with skin-to-skin, nursing, and introducing our big guy to the new baby. My MIL was pissed about this and when she visited the next morning actually commented on having to wait until the next day and told me it wasn’t about me. I don’t hold back and told her I pushed a baby from my vagina…so yeah, it is about me.

  • Omg! A million times: YAAAASSSSSSSS! Currently 7 months preg with our first. Thank God my mom already knows she’s not going to be in the room while I’m in labor! She had zero issue grasping this and hasn’t been the type of person to make my pregnancy about her. My MIL is the same way. She and my FIL are in charge of taking care of our dog during labor and delivery anyhow. That’ll give her something to do/focus on while they wait for us to tell them to come see the new baby.
    The other night I literally had a nightmare that I had given birth, was at home waking up from anesthesia; didn’t get to see or hold my baby at all yet. My house was full of people; my BIL’s brother was there with his friends all loudly singing and drunk. Then my FIL was holding the baby who was screaming… I was sobbing and angry yelling for these people to get out of my house and that I hadn’t even seen my baby yet. In the nightmare my BIL says “oh but they let you see him in the hospital!” And I screamed at him that they hadn’t. Freaked me out and still does, even though I dreamt it. Next day I relayed this all to my husband and told him no one was coming to the house to visit us after the birth until we (mostly me, let’s be honest) were ready to receive visitors. He agreed: “whatever you want, babies are your area”. Discussed it further that evening; immediate family can come to hospital for quick visit- absolutely zero social media posts by anyone but us- and once we go home, we will let people know when we are going to have visitors; i.e. wait to be invited.

  • Where oh where was this essay when I had my first child and my mom gave me all kinds of drama about how I didn’t want her there at the birth? (Never mind that she lives halfway across the country and the stress it would’ve caused me, the birthing woman, to worry about her jumping on a plane and whether she would arrive in time…).

  • This is really true! I guess in the excitement of having a new life coming into the family we don’t consider the MOMs feeling!!! Yes, she needs her privacy!!!

  • Thank you! I only wanted my husband in the room with visitors after baby and I were comfortable and ready. My husband’s family had no issue with the request but my mom was so upset. Everyone knew when I was being induced and when my husband stopped responding to texts (ie when I was delivering a baby) my mom decided to show up at the hospital unannounced. Then she was threatened by hospital security when she was throwing tantrums with the nurses trying to get in my room. I had major hemorrhaging afterwards and almost died (awesome). So as I was bleeding out and my husband was freaking out my mom was sending nasty texts to us complaining about not being able to see the baby. The nurses finally got her to leave and the next day when I was finally somewhat up for visitors, she refused to come. Lol our relationship has been strained since… It’s been three years. People really need to realize it’s not about them

  • Thank you so much for that article. It almost brought me to tears. I was late to the party (no pun intended) by having my first baby at 34. So naturally, people didn’t think I knew anything about anything. My mother to be the worst. She kept making comments about me then quickly making the conversation about herself. Or comparing me to my sister’s experience. A family member came to visit and brought her 2 year old son 3 days in a row and I was so overwhelmed and upset because I wanted only my significant other there in the hospital with me. It was too much and in the end, I ended up snapping and being rude (from trying to push a small human out…then in the end having a c section and feeling defeated) that my mother hasn’t spoken to me since my daughter was 2 days old (she’s 9 1/2 months now). So again, I thank you for this post. Because in the end, it’s about mommy and baby and I wish more people realized this.

  • THANK YOU! I love this article because this has been a point of contention for me since before I gave birth and my daughter is 4 months old now! Family and friends alike assume a lot. I thought I was being the jerk but I slowly came to realize exactly what you’ve written about.

    If you don’t agree with this article PLEASE consider that you may be the reason it had to be written and don’t make someone else’s labor, delivery, 4th trimester, and further life-adjustments about you! Don’t take it personal if you don’t get invited to the hospital or have to wait longer than you’d like to see mom and baby – everyone is in survival/learning mode and they’ll let you know when they are ready!

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