Monday, June 25, 2012

Would you Want your Mother at your Birth?

I've been to about 15 births now, and I've seen home birth, birth center birth, and numerous hospital births. Every woman has her her husband with her, though they have provided varying degrees of support. I'd say only about 4 of these women had their mother in the room with them the whole time as an additional support person. And by the whole time, I don't necessarily mean during pushing... Sometimes the mom has left for that part. I just mean for what felt like virtually the entire labor.

The first time I doula-ed with the grandma-to-be, I thought, "I definitely would not want this woman in the room if she was my mother."  It's not that she was terrible or annoying, but when she gave birth things were so different. Many grandmothers are thinking of their own birth, which was more often than not in a totally different time. They say things like, "doesn't everyone need an episiotomy?" and tell stories of how it was in her day, and sometimes make the laboring mamas very annoyed.

Some grandmothers-to-be benefit from having a doula present, for the same reasons that the dad or mom do; the doula is a less subjective person who is trained in all aspects of childbirth and can provide unique informational, emotional, and physical support. At times it is hard to be a loved one and watch objectively as your daughter or your wife seems to "suffer." Grandmas that might be simply too subjective may not be able to provide appropriate support to the laboring woman.

Sometimes grandmas are great! I had a recent birth where I just adored the grandmother-to-be. She was so chill and laid back! And of course, always a bonus, she agreed with me about how what the nurse said was weird, how a certain recommendation seemed totally unnecessary, etc. I thought she was a perfect support person - calm, quiet, provided pressure when needed, went and got cups of ice water and food for the mama, kept superfluous family members out, etc.

If my mother was like this woman, I might consider having her at my birth. As it stands at the moment, I don't think my mom would be the calming presence I'd want at my birth. Not that I don't think she'd be helpful... I think she'd think of ways to take care of me. And her birth was actually quite intervention-free and she supports my doula work, so she is knowledgeable of natural birth. I just don't think I would find her a soothing presence in assisting me to go into a relaxed inner birthing state, since I am naturally more stressed around her.

What about you? Would you want your mother in the room with you? Or anyone else?


  1. My mother was at my home birth, but we made it clear to her that she would not be the "doula" (we hired someone for that). She didn't even want the role! She spent most of the night pacing the floors and making coffee/snacks for everyone, but came in to watch me push my baby out. At one point she dropped by when I was in transition, and I was surprised by how lovely it was for her to rub my back with a cool cloth. I think when we're in the worst of things, our mothers can be a great source of comfort. I just don't think I'd ever rely on her as a doula-type support person - she'd be too anxious!! She's going to be at my birth again this time around, and she'll be in charge of my older daughter :)

  2. I'm planning a home birth, due in a couple weeks ( And am planning on my mom being there for the birth as well as for some time afterwards. She was with my sister during all five of her births, and she offered to be there for me and I immediately took her up on it. Before we settled on home birth I also planned on having her in the hospital with us. I get along well with my mom, and I think she will be comforting and supportive... I do have friends who would NEVER want their moms their though, so to each his own. :)

  3. I'm a doula for teen mothers so i am more likely to have a grandmother at the entire birth then the baby's father. Sometimes I get both grandmother and grandfather there.

    I definitely would not have wanted my mother at my birth (but that was a long time ago) but I will be with my daughter (a doula herself) when she is ready.


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