Inviting your parents or in-laws to the birth of your baby isn't always an easy decision.
Chris J., mother of two, was thrilled to have both her mom and mother-in-law there. "They both happen to be nurses," she says. "They were actually very helpful, calm and supportive."
Stacey V., mother of six, had quite a different experience when her mother-in-law was at her first labor. "She talked constantly through my contractions," she says. To make matters worse, "She kept leaving during my 16-hour labor to smoke and kept coming back in my room reeking so bad I was nauseous."
Kevin and Christy B., parents of three, weren't sure about having Christy's mom there. "Turns out, she showed up, stayed, and Christy wanted her to stay," Kevin says. "Christy, and her siblings, were all born in the time of twilight birth, so her mom watching her first grandchild being born was a cool experience"
If the grandparents will be there, you'll want to set some ground rules and share them with the parents:
"Don't take it personally if we ask you to leave the labor room."
Labor is unpredictable, and no one -- no matter how many classes she takes or books she reads -- is ever fully prepared for how she may feel or act during the big day. Set expectations before you are in labor. Your in-laws may decide to take a break anyway, but talk about it ahead of time so no one is surprised, or has hurt feelings.
Be sure to share your birth plan
It's crucial to let them know what your wishes are for labor. One birth I attended as a doula was very challenging for the mom. While her partner and I encouraged her to labor naturally (since that's what she wanted), her parents kept telling her to get an epidural. She had shared her birth plan with us, but not her parents. Labor can be overwhelming enough without having everyone telling you different things to do.
Decide if you want your parents to see everything
Many moms don't want their partners to watch the baby emerge, but what about your parents? You may not decide until it's actually time to push, but remember, you can always ask Mom and Dad to stand by your shoulders as their grandchild makes his entrance -- without seeing your, um, exit.