Edited by elsa_elsa - 6/8/11 at 5:04pm
The first comment I read by Smokering really sums it up nicely. I had 3 home births (many years ago) with my midwife, husband and 2 to 4 close friends present at each one. My mother was at none of them and we were both comfortable with that! It was nice having someone there to give attention to my two older children during my third birth especially.
I had my husband, mom, dad, sister, midwife and nurse at my son's birth. I think it flustered my midwife to have everyone around, and she seemed to be really weirded out that my dad was there (he sat in a chair in the corner of the birthig suite, I was in a tub, it's not like he was RIGHT THERE) but I didn't even notice once I was in the heavy labor. A classroom of 8th graders could have walked in, sat down and watched the birth and I wouldn't have noticed or cared. If you want those people at your birth, then by all means have them there!
I am normally really extraverted, but when I was pregnant with DD (my first and only so far), I got very hormonal and hated people. I told everyone that NO ONE was allowed to come to the birth. I didn't even tell anyone (including my parents!) that I was in labor till it was over, because I was afraid my mom might show up. I also told my neighbors (very close friends) that they weren't allowed to visit till DD was a week old.
But when I was in labor, I really loved having someone around...luckily my midwife's apprentice came early and stayed the whole time. I talked her ear off in early labor! And then after DD was born, I was thrilled to have everyone visit.
And I'm not pregnant yet (that I know of ;)), but for my next birth I'm pretty sure I want a party birth! I will for sure invite my mom and DH's mom...I'm pretty sure neither of our dads would come if we dragged them...lol...but I've thought a lot about inviting a girlfriend or two as well. I have a lot of friends who are interested in homebirth and who I thought it might be really neat to have around. I agree with smokering--think through the issues, but invite everyone you want to! Just make sure they're totally fine with you changing their mind and sending them away (or not even calling to let them know labor started, if you end up not feeling like it).
This is one of the things that I was most worried about before my home birth this past summer. I had 4 people there. My husband, my sister, and 2 midwifes. My 3 year old son was also there for all of the labor right up until transition when my husband decided that he should go out with our friend. DH was having to spend alot of time entertaining our son, even though my sister was supposed to be his support person, turned out he just wanted his dad. Anyway, my first birth was very slow. I had PROM and no real labor, I waited for 5 days. My mom was with me as was DH. The hospital started talking c-sections right away and I was shocked. I would go home labor would pick up, go to the hospital and it would stop. Anyway I reaaaally felt watched. In the end I got an induction which didn't work and in the end a c-section. Anyway, I knew this time I needed very supportive people, I am very perceptive to negativity and I knew how it affected my labor last time. 4 people worked well. It was still a long labor but the midwifes didn't come for good until it was active labor, and they knew how I felt about being watched so they were great to be "invisible" when they weren't needed and when to be there when I needed them. I had tasks set up for people during early labor, my sister baked, DH and my son built a kids chair. They took turns rubbing my back. It worked really well. The main thing is that whoever is there, you feel totally comfortable with them. Talk alot about birth with them beforehand to make sure you are on the same page. Good Luck!
I had 5 people at DD's birth, DH, MIL, my dad and two doulas. There was a nurse there, but I honestly forgot she was there until she would occasionally ask to strap a monitor to my belly to check heart rate and contractions. I had a very hands-off OB who was very supportive of my plan for a natural birth. She showed up about an hour before I started pushing and all she did was guide DH's hands so he could catch DD and then she stitched up my little tear and left again. I liked having all those people around, personally. Mostly it was just me and DH while I was in labor, but I liked knowing that I had a room full of supportive people, especially the doulas. It helped me relax knowing that they would probably say something or suggest something if they though things weren't going well or labor was stalling or something. For the most part, everyone left me and DH alone. Everyone was a little more hands-on during the pushing stage, but that was exactly when I needed them to be. I braced one leg against one doula and the other doula held my other leg(I gave birth lying on my left side), MIL kept putting a cool cloth on my neck and forehead and reminding me to tuck my chin when I pushed(there was a mirror at the end of the bed and I kept looking up to watch) and my dad just stroked my arm and told me I was doing great. DH was scrubbing up and waiting for his daughter to come. And like pp said, I liked having people visit after the birth. DD was born at 5pm and a friend of mine was at the hospital holding her by 8pm. She called and asked when she could visit the next day and I was so wired from the birth and fulfilling my goal of having a natural birth that I told her she could come over that night, and she did. The next two days at the hospital, our room was almost always full and I loved it. Like everyone else has said, it's up to you. If you feel like it will be beneficial to you to have all those people there, then do it. I'm actually a little sad that I might not get to have a "party birth" the next time around as we're hoping to have a UC and none of our parents are supportive of that idea. If we had any of them over, I'm sure they would all try to convince us to go to the hospital instead of staying home.
I just wanted to mention that, though everyone is different of course, it's worth remembering the analogy to having sex or using the bathroom - If you would usually prefer not to have an audience for those activities, you can understand why it can be a benefit not to be observed while laboring, birthing.
They aren't the same exactly of course, but as a doula I often talked to mamas about the fact that the same hormones (mostly oxytocin, and others) are responsible for orgasm and contractions - and that stress hormones inhibit both. Having supportive people can help lower stress, & that's good, but the fact of being observed [as in watched by anyone who doesn't have a specific role] does effect the ability to being free & uninhibited, and produce oxytocin like in sex.
Just something to think about! For most people, if you trust you provider and your partner is a good support, I think one other woman with you who you really trust (and who believes in natural childbirth if that's what you're going for) is ideal. In particular, I have noticed that often mamas are not so free to be uninhibited in front of their own parents, especially dads, even if they have great relationships in the rest of life.
I'm not a very private person and I've had it both ways- the "private" birth and the "party" birth. With my first, my DD, it was just dh, the midwife, and the MW assistant. With my second, I had my dh, midwife, MW assistant, doula, and good friend. The first was the minimum number of people possible (under the circumstances of using my CNM).
Both were great births, but ultimately I preferred the more private birth. I'm almost due with #3 and I'm going back to that this time... just me, dh, the midwife, and her asst.
Honestly, I wouldn't do it. During my first labor I had supportive people but they started fighting with each other... it turned ugly fast and eventually I had the nurses kick everyone out except my husband and sister... They continued fighting in the waiting room and nearly turned into a fistfight...
They literally turned one of the biggest moments of my life into a circus and never again will I have that many people there.. or the same people (and this was just my family and my husband's family). After last time this birth is a private birth.. I am just not taking chances on that happening again.
Personally, I tuned out most of the people in the room during labor w/ my first child. I was in another zone, and wouldn't have been able to provide attention/conversation to anyone. Biology takes over, and it's all about the pushing. I was glad my husband was present in order to help hold me, clean up poop, and provide encouragement/support when I either had to push or hold the pushing. Mine was a hospital birth w/ an epidural, but the woman in the next room screamed through her entire labor...
Sphincters don't open when they're judged!
Best line ever lol
Last time I had mw, her asst, dh, and my mom. It wasn't exactly a party but it was still more people than I felt comfortable with, which is why we are planning a UC this time. My mom did surprisingly well for someone who is very mainstream, but her inner anxiety was palpable and I think it hindered me, personally. This time I just want dh, maybe my bff (to watch dd) and that's it.