Giving Birth Is Not A Party

pregnant woman hunched over bed prior to giving birth

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.)

Our next recos:

Happily After Giving Birth – 10 Things They Don’t Tell You

Sex After Childbirth – 7 Unsexy Sins

Types of Baby Rashes

Topics:Best Of, Birth
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  • Thank you for this! You have no idea how relieving it is to read your post and read all of the comments, affirming my wants and desires for my upcoming birth in a couple of weeks. My mom and grandmother have been so selfish throughout my whole pregnancy, and their attempted guilt trips over my not wanting them at the hospital at all, has really made for some stressful moments of late just when I don’t need it.

    I finally get pregnant at 38, after 15 years of marriage, and rather than be happy for me and do as a mother should, I am forced to admit that I simply can’t talk to her about anything pregnancy related. She has to turn every conversation around to her experience, how my experiences are invalid, and how her’s were the best. Pretty much the same for my grandmother, who doesn’t understand my complications due to age and GD, and maintains she had the best pregnancies. I’m sure they were great, when she was 17.

    So far I’d pretty much told them I only want my husband in the room with me and that honestly I don’t really even want them at the hospital until we call to say we’re ready for visitors. Cue the histrionics.

    A) Our hospital has no nursery, all the babies room-in with the parents and given my GD, I’m sure the baby will need some immediate after care. So they’re not going to see anything until my say so.

    B) I honestly don’t see the point in waiting around when you can’t see anything in a nursery, and you’re not welcome for a few hours in my room either, especially since we don’t know how the birth will go.

    Given how we already don’t get along, the last thing I want is either of them crowding in and stressing me out even more when all I’d rather do is relax, bond, and learn how to take care of my baby without their drama. Their bullshit can wait.

    It’s going to be a point of contention I’m sure as the time comes. But as my delightful mother-in-law reminds me: Other people’s feelings are not my responsibility.

    • Good for you! I’m so glad this is helpful! You are so wise to establish boundaries early. Your mother-in-law sounds like a smart lady too. I hope you have a wonderful, stress-free birth!

  • It still baffles me that people don’t understand the concept that birth is about mother and baby and nobody else. My family would never dream about showing up at the hospital till I was ready for visitors but my husband’s grandmother thought she was going to be there right after our baby is born. Naturally I got super defensive and said that I will be the 1st one to bond with my baby then my husband. Everyone else will meet the baby on my schedule and that might not even be in the hospital depending on how I’m feeling. There’s so much going on after birth (recovery, figuring out feeding, etc…I cannot even fathom entertaining other people. Plus she’s been a nightmare since she found out I was pregnant and uses every opportunity to make unwanted comments. So she’s the last person I want there atm. It took me threatening to call security on her if she randomly shows up for my husband to talk to her. She said she understood but I’m still keeping my distance for now

  • I had no problem telling everyone that no one would be allowed in the room while i was birthing.

    Whats funny, is that my sister and mom came to lete know they were there if i needed anything and i told them it was fine to stay a bit. They ended up being such a great help!! Sweet and supportive to both me and my hubby. I cant believe i almost missed out on that.

    Im a lucky one though with great family.

  • We had some issue this go around (baby 3) with my mother being upset she wasn’t invited in, a few moments of hurt when people assumed they were but I am just no longer in the mood to deal with people and once I calmly explained everyone (but my mom who is still a little sulky) has been really respectful.. I am not a spectator sport. My favorite line seems to be “This ain’t NASCAR. ” lately….

  • Yes! I didn’t even want people thinking about us during the birthing time so we didn’t tell anyone the baby was even ready to come until after well birth.

  • I can’t agree more, from a personal and professional standpoint!

    I am a Registered Nurse, and as student did a round through the Birthing Centre at my local hospital. Sometimes a birth can be a circus with just the number of health professionals in the room, let alone a bunch of family. One birth I attended has Mom, Dad, the OB, his two medical residents, 2 nurses, 2 nursing students, A respiratory therapist and his student, and a paramedic student (its a teaching hospital). Thats 12 people, 10 of whom are medical! Thankfully our hospital has a 2 person limit on support people, because HOLY BANANAS, I couldn’t imagine what it would be like in one of these rooms with a herd of family! Truthfully, the mother has every right to kick out every one who doesn’t need to be there (Students) but usually, the mother is a little bit too involved with giving birth to say anything.

    But, all that aside, birth should be a beautiful, loving moment where the parents get to meet their child and celebrate. If you want to have a party to welcome your little one, save it until you are home and maybe even settled a bit. The hospital is not the place for a fiesta!

  • The whole entourage in the hospital thing is definitely an American “thing”. Certainly in Ireland, no-one would DREAM of turning up at the hospital until after the baby arrived, and even than, most of the maternity hospitals strictly limit the number of visitors to partner and one or 2 others max.

  • This article is spot on! I was due yesterday (still waiting…) and I have said this from the day I took that positive pregnancy test! I told my husband, and we in turn told our respective families, that we didn’t want anyone at the hospital. I was taken by surprise when they all agreed with, and supported our decision. We told them that if I am doing well, and so is the baby, that we would consider inviting visitors.

    Strangely enough, my best friend’s sister (whom I am not even close with) is the one that was offended?? That was an awkward conversation to have. She couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t want people there after the delivery. I had to then explain your state post-delivery (hospital mesh underwear, HUGE pads, excessive bleeding, leaking boobs, emotions, etc.). She had no idea.

  • Melissa,

    I LOVED this post, I am due in three weeks. Needless to say everyone has given me advice, but this really got to the point of what to exspect. I appreciate your honesty! I like how you pointed out giving birth is not about making sure everyone is okay. I am big on that and tend to think of myself last. So being reminded my baby is the most important thing is such a blessing!

    Needless to say I loved this post!

  • 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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