15/10/2018 16:50 BST | Updated 15/10/2018 16:50 BST

Every Pregnant Woman Should Have The Right To Choose Who Is Present During Birth Without Judgement

Birth is about you, your body and your baby. Although it might be awkward I firmly believe in saying no to people you don’t feel comfortable with

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It’s hard to know who you should bring to your birth. Do you have a duty to let your mother-in-law in to please your other half?

Just because your family want to be there do they have to? And should you worry about causing tension at this time?

On Mumsnet, women have been debating who should be allowed to come to the hospital after a mum-to-be revealed she’s been arguing with her husband about upcoming plans. 

The unnamed woman wanted her husband and mum present during the birth, then have some quiet time alone with her husband and the new baby for a couple of hours. The husband, however, says this will create tension with his family as his mum and grandma would like to wait outside during the delivery room throughout the labour, ready to greet their new relative.

After seeing thousands of women in labour and delivering hundreds of babies I thought I should share my experience as a midwife - what I know to be true and backed by science.

Sharing your birth with someone is one of the most intimate things you can do. Run through people in your mind that you would feel least embarrassed walking in on you having sex. If that is your mother in law then great, consider her. If not simply do not let her attend your birth because it will affect your labour.

Birth is about you, your body and your baby. Although it might be awkward I firmly believe in saying no to people you don’t feel comfortable with.

We have around 100 hormones in our bodies and the main hormone that is responsible for labour is oxytocin. We have synthetic versions of it in hospital and we rely on those drugs to induce you or speed up your labour. Emotions are chemicals in the blood that have a direct impact on your labour. Feeling anxious or uncomfortable with your birth partners produces Cortisone and Adrenaline – blocking oxytocin that only holds you back.

You need to feel comfortable, reassured and safe. Doulas can help you achieve this and almost guard your birth and preferences.

Research involving 15,000 women showed that Doulas mean less intervention, shorter labours, healthier babies and positive memories of birth. Why? Because a Doula knows your plans, your parameters and your preferences. She is only there to drive your agenda and support you emotionally. Even if you have a supportive partner, best friend, Mother, Sister still consider a doula for support because studies show the most effective support comes from people that are both separate from a woman’s social circle and non-clinical.

The way you’re spoken to also matters. Radiologist Elvira Lang studied the medical results of comfort talk by doctors, a technique that includes the use of empathetic language and hypnosis while patients undergo laparoscopic surgery. In a study conducted with 241 patients, Lang found that those who received conventional treatment reported maximum pain levels of 7.5 on a scale from 0 to 10, while those who had comfort talk reported maximum levels of 2.5.

So when you’re choosing your birth partners, think about who will truly help you, make you feel safe, cared for and consider a doula.

Ina May Gaskin once said: “If a woman doesn’t look like a Goddess in labour, someone isn’t doing their job right.”

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