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Labor & Delivery Turf Wars: Delivery Room Bullies

A Delivery Room Stand-Off

By Amalah

So I read an advice piece on the woman’s mom being in the room and it kinda helped with my situation but not completely..

My mother-in-law drives me nuts. My husband is an only child, this is the first grand baby and blah blah. She literally is all over me at this point and I’m trying to not flip out on her…but I would love for her to back off.  

Basically I’ve had to tell my mom that she can’t be in the delivery room because I do not want my mother-in-law in the room. Which has really bugged me because my mom and I are very close and I would like her to be in there. But my MIL will pitch a fit if my mom’s in the room and she’s not. But she’s not my mom and I don’t feel comfortable with her being there being her overbearing self and trying to take control of the situation like she likes to do… so what would you do? I either piss my husband and my MIL off and have my mom there or I feel shitty and not have my mom in there and please my husband. In the moment I don’t think I’ll be thinking of it that much but what if I am?

Thanks for your help and I absolutely look forward to my weekly emails from your pregnancy calendar it makes me feel better knowing I’m not the only one who has felt the way I do sometimes haha.

Thanks

The only person who gets to make the final decision on who is and isn’t in the delivery room is you.

The Delivery Room Guest List

You want your mom but not your MIL? Guess what! You can 100% absolutely totally have your mom there and not your MIL. If anyone suggests that a woman’s mother and her mother-in-law are any sort of delivery room “package deal” and that it’s unfair to include one but not the other…well, they’re wrong. Your MIL is free to pitch as big of a fit as she likes. But she can do it away from you, out in the waiting room, along with all the other people who YOU have not explicitly invited into the room to witness a very private, personal event.

I wouldn’t even discuss it with her, to be honest. You don’t need to announce the delivery room guest list ahead of time…particularly with anyone who isn’t on the guest list. Everyone other that the parents-to-be should default assume they are NOT invited into the delivery room unless told explicitly otherwise.

Considering Your Husband’s Wishes

Now, you mentioned a secondary conflict with your husband. Is he upset at you for including your mom but excluding his mom? Or is it more of a “I don’t anyone else in the room but us” sort of thing? I don’t think I’ve heard of many dads-to-be pushing for their own mothers to be included but I have heard from quite a few who have their own strained/contentious relationships with their MILs and thus would prefer to keep ALL mothers and other family members waiting outside.

So I think you two need to have a calm, honest discussion about the delivery room and your respective wishes and expectations. If he doesn’t want your mom there (or anyone), talk to him about WHY you want her there. Make sure he knows it isn’t because you’re assuming he won’t be an effective birth coach or something. If he feels very very strongly about this being a private event with just the two of you, listen to him and take his feelings into consideration and consider any possible compromises. Maybe you’ll be okay with people in “the room” while you’re in early labor but then have him respectfully escort people out once things get really going. Maybe he can go out and give frequent updates in the waiting room, or maybe he just needs to sack up and tell his mother to back up off you already.

But be clear that as the human about to birth another human, the final decision on what you need or want is 100% yours to make. Dads and partners absolutely SHOULD have their opinions and feelings considered, but in the end, it’s really their job to be as supportive of you as possible. If you want your mom, he should let you have your mom.

MIL Relationship and Healthy Boundaries

ON THE OTHER HAND: If he’s pissed because he (and his mom) don’t think it’s “fair” that you have your mom but not his in the room, well, that sounds like you two need to have more than one discussion. That sounds like he’s got an ongoing blind spot to his mother’s overbearing behavior and how she’s made you feel during your pregnancy. That’s a conflict that will likely cause problems for you both in other contexts. Does he have healthy boundaries with his mother? Does he consistently value her feelings over yours? These are hard, uncomfortable questions, I know. But your MIL’s reign of influence over your lives is not going to end after the delivery room. Once the grandchild is here, these sorts of problems often only get worse. So get talking and communicating (NOT FIGHTING) about it now.

It’s one thing to be super duper excited about your first grandchild, it’s another to feel “entitled” to your daughter-in-law’s pregnancy in any way, shape or form. You are not obligated to let your MIL touch your belly constantly, attend OB appointments with you, constantly overwhelm you with unsolicited and unhelpful advice, or to let her throw you a shower you don’t want. (All actual pregnancy-and-MIL questions I’ve gotten in the past!!) And you are DEFINITELY not obligated to have her in the delivery room if that makes you uncomfortable. And its super unfair if she and your husband are trying to guilt-trip you into that, or push you to exclude YOUR OWN MOTHER because of some really misguided view of “fairness.”

Final Thoughts

I might be reading the situation completely wrong, of course, and it’s really just a simple “my husband doesn’t want MY mom there” and you need to find out more about his reasons. (He just wants it intimate; he’s got his own issues with your mom’s personality and/or worries he’ll be pushed aside as your labor coach, etc.) He might have some good reason, or a worry/concern that is solvable once you talk it out and map out a more detailed birth plan.

Either way, I wish you the BEST of luck, and a wonderful birth experience that is everything YOU want it to be.

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Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Comments

  • visitor3

    Patient is momma, not dad. What momma wants is all that matters. And remember you have the right to change your mind anytime and kick people out. Tell the nurse to enforce. Best way to ensure MIL does not sneak in (happened to me, while I was being sewn up, horrifying) is to call her after the birth. Video chat for 2 minutes, show the baby, say you’re sore and tired, see you tomorrow (or at home, whatever the plan is), and concentrate on baby and yourself immediately.

    Husband does not get it? Ask him to consider having your dad present during his next proctology exam, colon cancer screening, and passing of a kidney stone, and a huge #2… because that really happens during birth. If he admits that is weird, he should understand how momma feels.

  • Been There

    BOUNDARIES BOUNDARIES BOUNDARIES. Set them now, set them firmly. When everyone says it will only get worse once the baby comes, they aren’t kidding. My ILs (esp. MIL) have gotten really hung up on everything being FAIR since we got back from our honeymoon, and since the pregnancy and then delivery of our first baby (first grandbaby on both sides) it just piled up into an enormous mess. When he was born, my mom was able to stay with us for about a week to help out before she had to go home (both families live in other states). We invited MIL to visit for a weekend because we thought she’d like to get some more intimate time visiting the baby; it turned out that she expected to stay the exact number of days that my mom “got” to stay. (Never mind that my mom was basically my live-in housemaid, errand-runner, personal nurse and lactation consultant whereas MIL just wanted to hold the baby and visit.) My husband and I became anxiety-ridden messes trying to anticipate what we could and couldn’t do because of all the IL’s feely feelings, and we could never plan ANYTHING with my family without worrying about the backlash if we didn’t do THAT EXACT THING with his family. Trying to make everything tit-for-tat is completely exhausting, and in my experience no matter what you do and what you cave to, people who are determined to be pushy and have hurt feelings will find things to get their feelings hurt over, and more things to push on whenever they do get their way. It is much harder to set and enforce boundaries after you have given in to their demands before and let things pile up and combust, trust me.

    Bottom line, it is YOUR delivery room. Absolutely consider your husband’s feelings, but in the end it’s your call.