Would You Let Your Mother (or Mother-in-Law) Watch Your Child's Birth?

BlogHer Original Post
Pregnant Woman in Hospital Room

I invited my mother-in-law to come to one of the numerous ultrasounds we had of the twins back when we were pregnant. I felt like it was only fair since I not only invited my mother to come to a few appointments, but I would have been personally crushed if my mother hadn't taken me up on the offer. I was a new mum-to-be after a long time of waiting to become a new mum-to-be, and if my mother had shared in the crappiness of infertility with us, I wanted her there to celebrate in the joy of impending parenthood with us.

But other people thought it was strange when I told them my mother-in-law was coming into town for the ultrasound. They made it sound like I was a stripper taking my mother-in-law along with me to watch my performance rather than a pregnant woman bringing her to a medical appointment. What did they think was going to happen? That she was going to become so rabidly excited by the images on the ultrasound screen that she was going to ask if she could perform the cervix check herself?

The twins' birth was such a goat rodeo due to their prematurity and IUGR that we didn't really have the option to have our mothers in the delivery room, but my husband and I recently talked about this when a friend of ours was discussing whether or not to have her mother in the delivery room. I was all for it, but my husband felt like the delivery room is an intimate moment meant just for us (er...and apparently that intimate moment is shared with a doctor, two nurses, two NICU staffs, and 17 medical students who wanted to watch a twin birth).

In poking around, I realized that there are all sorts of configurations in delivery rooms I had never considered. Heather Armstrong had her mother, sister, and stepfather in the room (which made me wish I had invited my sister along for the ride), adding in the new consideration of fathers and father-in-laws. For some reason, having a coven of women in the room with me sounds empowering--very only-the-good-parts of the Handmaid's Tale. But I don't have the same warm, fuzzy, "we are women, hear us roar from the deep pain of childbirth" when I think about the men in my life following me into the delivery room with the exception of my husband.

But, on the other hand, if we were adopting, I would want our fathers there when we met the child. I think too many times, men are shunted to the side when the threshold is crossed into parenthood. And while some men may not want to be included, others have huge emotions over being part of the experience.

For every woman who wants her mother in the delivery room, there is an equal amount of women who can't fathom having their mother in there.

Tori Spelling insisted that her mother be there when she gave birth via c-section, stating,

"I don't care how old you are: When you are going through something scary, you want your mommy!"

On Yahoo Shine, a brief post asking it as a hypothetical question breaks it down between gender lines. The woman would love to have her mother there and her husband is equally adamant that he wants to be alone in the delivery room. Though the writer calls her mum a "great source of comfort" her husband "feels hurt that I might need more than just him there."

Philosopher Jagger's husband may be away when the birth takes place this summer, but prior to learning of his plans, she had already secured her mother to be there. She admits, "it makes me so nervous to think of him not being here when/if I go into labor early. I was planning to have my mom in the delivery room again anyway, but - he needs to be there. Right?"

Author, Melinda Blau (of Baby Whisperer fame) points out that having your mother in the delivery room can be cathartic, placing something akin to a closure to the separation that occurs earlier in life.

Mothers and daughters reach a different level of understanding when the daughter becomes a mother. One of the woman we interviewed looked at her mom in the delivery room and said, “I can’t believe you did this three times!” Granted, a daughter’s motherhood doesn’t automatically soothe bruised egos or erase past disagreements–so it isn’t necessarily a harmonious level of understanding–but there is usually some sort of shift when you both stand on common ground.

On the other end are those who are fairly certain or downright adamant that they don't want their mother there. Talitha posed a question on Momlogic admitting that while she only wants her husband and doula and medical staff with her for the birth, she also doesn't want to "exclude anybody, or hurt anybody's feelings."

A writer on Mamapedia is much more certain in her feelings and said no when her mother stated for the third time that it was her dream to watch her grandchild be born: "I get VERY tired of my mom's constant 'dreams' and guilt trips. I don't doubt her sincerity, just the unwillingness to accept 'no'. It's hard to feel like the eternal 'dream crusher'."

What's your take on who should be in the delivery room? Would you have your mother there? Your MIL? Your Dad? Your FIL?

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her book is Navigating the Land of If.


In order to comment on BlogHer.com, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.