When in labor, a woman is in a vulnerable and intimate situation. She's in pain, possibly scared, and maybe even half naked. This might be the worst possible time to figure out it was a bad idea to invite mom into the room while bringing a beautiful baby into the world.
The mother/daughter relationship is tricky, for sure—full of ups and downs, decades-old rifts, and lots of differing opinions. Sometimes things are great, sunshine, rainbows, and shared milkshakes, but sometimes we just can’t seem to find common ground. While know one knows their own kids quite like mom—maybe too well—which can work in the favor of an expectant woman, or it can just bring up past problems that should stay buried.
Maybe mom doesn’t realize that bringing up how much her daughter screamed when she broke her ankle in seventh grade doesn’t do a lot to encourage her daughter's decision to forgo pain medication during labor, although mom really should. And she should keep that opinion to herself.
On the flipside, moms can bring a sense of support to their laboring daughters. After all, in most cases she gave birth to her daughter and it's an incredibly intense and intimate moment that can serve to bond mother and daughter together as women. It rings of the old days when all of the women in the family came together to guide the laboring mom with their combined experience and understanding.
Should an expectant woman invite her mom into the delivery room with her? That is a personal decision and truly unique based on relationship, past, and personalities. However, here are 15 red flags that might warn expectant mothers ahead of time to keep the new grandma in the waiting room.
15 She Laughed At The Birth Plan
When you tell soon-to-be grandmas and grandpas that you are expecting, there is sure to be lots of excitement for a while. Shortly after your new bump starts to sprout, the questions about how you are going to handle getting that baby out of your belly begin. Will you get an epidural? Will you induce? Are you going to the hospital? Birth center? Homebirth?
Every woman has her own reasons for what kind of delivery she wants, and they should be respected—especially by anyone who might be present for those plans. Some moms, however, have their own ideas. You are trying to go unmedicated? Yeah right; tell me that when the contractions kick in. You are getting pain medication? So unnatural.
Sometimes it feels like no matter what decision we make, Mom will find a way to criticize.
If your mom scoffed at your birth plan or immediately suggested that you reconsider, she might not be the most supportive when you are trying to make sure your birth plan actually goes according to plan.
14 She Gets Squeamish At Papercuts
Who thought that an adorable miracle such as a newborn baby could come into the world in such an unadorable (and sometimes flat-out gross) way? As beautiful as birth is, it can also be messy and full of unpleasantness. It is a bodily function after all, and many times includes medical procedures that could be downright gag inducing for some people.
There could be IV’s being placed, catheters being inserted, and even medication injected right into your the spine. There is a reason that the fainting husband is an old stereotype: having a baby can get intense.
Any mom who has been through labor knows that they can expect a fair amount of blood to come out with the baby and the placenta—as well as some other bodily fluids. One way to know that your mom might not be a great labor coach is if she can’t stand the sight of blood, or gets nauseous when you even mention the word “afterbirth”.
13 She Can't Stop Talking
There is nothing wrong with being a chatterbox in general, but if your mom’s nervous tick happens to be talking your ear off, she might not be a very relaxing presence while you are trying to focus on pushing a tiny human out of your body.
Many women find that a softly lit, quiet room is key to helping them create a serene mindset for their delivery. Some laboring women light candles and listen to meditation chants, special playlists, or nature sounds to get themselves relaxed and ready for the marathon that labor can be. The last thing you need is your mom nervously droning on, filling the silent moments with her thoughts on any and every subject that comes to her mind.
So if your mom is great at uplifting, supportive talk, she might be a helpful person to be by your side when you go through possibly one of the most difficult experiences of your life. If she tends to be a chatter, but you have a solid enough relationship to tell her to quiet down until you ride out that next contraction, it could still work. But if you even have even a little concern about her ability to read the room and contribute to your desired calm environment, tell her you will talk with her when she can meet her new grandchild.
12 She Hated Her Own Labor
There are some women who actually seem to enjoy their labor experiences, coming away with a feeling of strength and accomplishment. They talk about feeling “in the zone” and radiating with womanly energy. They bask in their ability and talk about it like it is an awakening.
And then other women are not so fortunate; whether they experienced life-threatening complications or other traumatizing situations, there are many opportunities for women to come away with a bad feeling about childbirth.
If your mom has been regaling you with horror stories about her own labors for as long as you can remember, she might not bring a positive energy into the delivery room. She might project her own fears onto you, attempt to talk you out of your own birth plan, or simply unravel from the scary reminders of her own experience. If you think her own prejudices against birth have tainted her perspective, then do yourself a favor and avoid bringing it all back up again.
11 She Isn’t Dependable
If you need to sum up the ideal labor coach in one word, it would have to be “dependable”. If there is any question at all about how trustworthy your mom will be when you really need her, do yourself a favor and count her out of the delivery room guest list. After all, there are no make ups or redo’s for your childbirth experience.
Labors can last a long time and might require physical and emotional endurance from your support team. Will your mom ditch you when she gets bored? Will she take off and linger over a sandwich while you are in transition? If you could see that happening at all, she might be a worrisome choice for such an important day.
One mom remembers her mom ducking out periodically for possibly the worst possible reason: "She kept leaving during my 16-hour labor to smoke and kept coming back in my room reeking so bad I was nauseous."
10 Can't Trust Not To Spread Anybody's Business All Over Facebook
If your mom tends to be a little too open on social media, you might want to leave her out of the delivery room. After all, you don’t want her updating all of her friends with your cervix’s every move and no one needs to know that you have been puking for hours. When the real show begins, and you are half naked pushing a baby into the world, the last thing you will want to see is a camera phone’s flash hovering over your lady parts.
One BabyCenter mom remembers her mom getting all up in her business: "My mother tried to elbow away the midwife with her camera while I was trying to push [dear daughter] out. I think that was in the 2nd or 3rd hour; I don't remember. All I remember was the midwife saying, 'Excuse me?' and [dear husband] commenting really loud on how wrong it was."
9 She Won't Support The Partner
If you want your partner in the room with you, which more and more women do, you will want his or her undivided attention and total focus. Many childbirth preparation classes stress the importance of communication during all phases of labor, so everyone in the room should realize that in order to support you, they also need to support your partner. This includes your mom.
Sometimes your mom can have a complicated relationship with your partner, and that can bleed over into the chaos that is childbirth. They might worry that your mom will overstep her boundaries or step on some toes during such an intimate time that the two of you have been preparing for so diligently for months. And sometimes they might be right.
The only one who can make that call is you, taking into consideration their relationship and how well she will respect your decisions as a team.
8 It Feels Weird Getting Undressed In Front Of Her
All families have varying levels of comfort when it comes to getting bare. Some mothers and daughters share everything—including dressing rooms and bathroom stalls—and are pretty comfortable displaying their bods in the buff around each other. Other mother daughter pairs could never imagine stripping down in front of each other and are much more modest, which could pose a problem while delivering a baby.
Not only will you possibly need to get naked during labor, but there are lots of other opportunities for getting a little too personal. Labor pains can cause you to get into lots of positions—some that are not so flattering or modest. Unfortunately you might flash more than your labia: pooping and vomiting are pretty common at different points of the miracle of life.
So if you feel squeamish about letting loose in front of your mom, her presence there might make you feel a bit more inhibited and concerned with your appearance than you should be.
7 She Doesn't Listen To Her Own Daughter
If you and your mom have vastly differing ideas on many fundamental beliefs, and you are hardly confident that she will listen to you on the big day, just say no to inviting her into the delivery room. This could be anything from believing you need more medication, not trusting that you don’t need medication, or that you want to labor in a specific way.
Your mom should know you well enough to understand what may push your buttons, and be accepting enough to listen to you when you speak up.
“In my case with my mom, she is Catholic and a true believer,” says Lisa Fogarty. “I am agnostic and my husband is an atheist. When she taped a photo of Jesus on the wall in front of me and told me to breathe and focus on it in order to feel better, I nearly flipped out.” Yikes; that could make labor stressful for anyone.
6 She Is Always Late To Everything
Especially if having your partner in the delivery room with you isn’t an option and you are looking for a sole supporter for your delivery, make sure that whomever you pick will be punctual. Everyone’s labor is different—you could be in labor for three hours or thirty-six hours—but you will want someone there to support you no matter the length.
Being chosen to be present during a baby’s birth is a special thing that should be taken seriously. If your mom is perpetually late and you can’t even count on her to make it to a movie before the opening credits, you might end up laboring without her support.
You want to make sure that, even if you happen to have a short labor, your mom won’t be running late and get there just in time to yell out the last, “Push” before your baby comes into the world.
5 Can't Feel Confident In Decisions Previously Made While She's There
The mother/daughter dynamic is a complex thing, and many of us still feel like little girls around our moms. In the middle of labor is not the time to feel unsure about your choices.
Whether you think your mom will outright balk at your decisions or you will simply feel too inhibited by her presence to make your own decisions confidently, if you don’t think you will be supported, then do not invite her into the delivery room.
“When our daughter was under distress . . . there were no other voices in my head of what to do except my doctor's, my husband's, and most importantly my own,” recalls Christie Drozdowski. “We decided to have a c-section. Whether my mom would have meant to have this effect or not, if she were in the room, my ability to remain calm and make the choice for myself would've been compromised, and even if the same decision had been made, it probably would've felt a little less like my own.”
4 She Can't Handle Stressful Situations
This one might be harder to tell ahead of time because watching your loved one in physical pain is a completely different kind of stress. Even if your mom can keep her cool in a high-stress job or if she has handled other emergency situations with aplomb, she might just lose it when you are in the middle of intense contractions or pushing through the ring of fire.
“My mother, who is normally a rock, began to unravel when I experienced the first of several horrifyingly painful contractions,” remembers Lisa Fogarty. “I wanted her to tell me it was totally normal -- that it was all part of childbirth. But she was looking at me with her own mom eyes and she couldn't mask her concern in order to make me feel better.”
You might have to feel this one out and see just how involved your mom wants to be. If she tears up at the thought of seeing you pain, she might be happier outside of the room—away from the action.
3 She Still Sees Her Daughter As Her Little Girl
Your mom has been there for you since you were a tiny newborn yourself. She was responsible for helping you make decisions for years, ensuring that you did the safe thing, the right thing—the thing you wouldn’t regret.
That was all great when you were a toddler, but hopefully she has gradually let go and realized that you should be calling the shots now. Not all moms are good at this, however. For some it is just too hard to see their once chubby-cheeked and wide-eyed little girl as a grown-up woman. You will always have those pigtails, those knobby knees, and she will always be responsible for your decisions.
If your mom still tells you what you really want to order from the restaurant menu and hands you the right bottle of nail polish off the wall when you are getting manicures, she might not be ready to let you take the reins in the delivery room.
2 Because The Spouse Dreads Seeing Her
Most women now want their partners to be with them in the delivery room. It only makes sense according to the old adage, “If you weren’t there for the conception, you don’t need to be there for the birth.”
Giving birth brings up lots of those love hormones, meaning many women feel extra connected to the one who they are going to be sharing this miracle baby with, so having their partner’s attention and focus is vital. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t lots of examples of moms being superb labor coaches alongside the laboring woman’s other half.
In order to make this work, however, your partner and your mom will have to be a team. They will need to seamlessly communicate, both with you and with each other. If your partner doesn’t want your mom there, this could lead to some tension—pretty much that last thing you want popping up while you are busy handling contractions.
1 She Doesn't Trust Doctors
Some people just don’t trust what doctors (or any other medical professional for that matter) have to say. This is fine when they are making their own medical decisions, but if you want your mom to potentially advocate for you in the delivery room it is important that she is open to listening to what your doctors and nurses have to say.
Heaven forbid something goes wrong during your labor (we never want to think about it, but it happens) and your doctor has to make a quick decision to help you and your baby. Will your mom be supportive and trust the doctor that you have chosen? Or will she act as a roadblock to her every move, possibly adding unnecessary time to the situation?
Maybe your mom doesn’t love doctors, but she is willing to put that aside and go with their best judgment when it comes to her new grandbaby’s health. If you have an open and honest conversation about it, she just might be able to accompany you and witness your little miracle.