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Hospital Visitor Etiquette: Labor & Delivery

Rachel O'Reilly

By Aaryn Leineke

One thing I never fail to tell my clients, is to do their absolute best to keep their labor and delivery room their sacred space.

And that often means that when you are going into labor, you have to keep it to yourself, and only inform your birth team. Why is this so important? It’s very hard for your friends, loved ones, and family members to resist their excitement. And it’s not that you don’t want them to be excited for you... But excitement, even when it comes from love, can spark many other emotions. Fear, impatience and anxiety, which can bring questions, phone calls, etc.

Many loved ones feel like they are being supportive by coming to the hospital to wait in the waiting room for hours. But, what they don’t understand is that a waiting room full of people can potentially add to the anxiety of a laboring mother, and the father (or partner) since they will now feel the need to split their time between the laboring mother and the family members wanting frequent updates in the hospital waiting room.

So, all in all, my list of hospital visitor etiquette for labor and delivery is - STAY HOME.

The best way to support a laboring mother and her birth team is by waiting at home, near your phone (or not ;)), and continue with your regular activities until you receive an update. Be mindful to not request an update, and trust that you will get one as soon as the family is ready. It’s very possible that even 12 hours in, mama is still working hard, and there is just no new news to share with you. Maybe the only update they can give is that mama has taken another shit, and daddy too.

Remember that for 48 hours or so, these new parents will already be experiencing the many interruptions in the hospital. There will be hospital staff shift changes, hourly check ups, noises from the different monitors and so on. With all that in mind, the extra stimulation of visiting during this time could just be too much for all involved.

I have been at a birth where a friend of the laboring mother was texting the parents and me, and at one point even called the hospital. “Is everything okay? I’ve been worried sick!!” Everything was okay, but the friend’s stress was immediately felt by the laboring mother and her support team.

Like I said before, of course these feelings are stemming from love, but as a friend of a laboring mother, it’s important to remember, this is not about you. When the mother and father are ready to give you an update, or even a call with an invite to come on over and meet the new bundle of joy, they will. Until then, the best thing you can do is wait patiently.