There are already many, many lists about what should be brought to a birth. We thought it would be more enlightening to discuss some of the worst items to bring!
Cell phones are wonderful devices! Just … not at birth. Most of the time you’ll want to focus on the immediate events and tasks that come up during labor and birth. Cell phones and tablets can distract from the birthing process. This is especially true for birthing attendants (doulas, midwives, husbands, family members, etc.) and less true for the birthing woman. Early in labor, she may have long enough breaks between contractions that she’ll want to pass the time on her phone.
Cameras are usually attached to smartphones, so those negatives often apply (distracting, etc.). And many women (and men) aren’t comfortable enough to share their most intimate moments of nudity, exertion, and emotional stress with anyone at all so why take photos at all?
But there is an entire profession built around capturing images and video during birth. Some couples are confident enough to share these most intimate moments, and in those cases, it can make sense. Just make sure the photography isn’t taking someone away from caring for the instant needs of the mother. It’s usually best to bring a dedicated photographer (professional or otherwise) to the birth party if you are going to bring a camera with the expectation of actually capturing decent media.
Um, hello? Once again, this is all about giving the birthing woman the focus and attention she needs on one of the most wonderful, exciting days of human existence. Unless the woman is a gamer, all present should put aside idle past times and get busy helping out.
If you are going to play games (some births can last 24 hours and up) make sure it’s something that can be turned off or paused at a moment’s notice. No real-time games with other live players, etc.
Did you bring any guests over when you made the baby (sex)? Then likely you’ll want to keep guests to a minimum when the baby is on his or her way out! Be especially wary of those family members who expect that they have a right to be present (mothers, sisters, etc.).
It can be hard for certain family members to empathize with the birthing mother and honor her right to exclusive privacy. Try to imagine defecating with a group of friends or family members. Giving birth shares many mechanical similarities to pooping, and indeed, the bowels will be emptied during the birth process.
Privacy is key here.
This isn’t surgery. It’s birth. A normal, natural process that is not an emergency or a trauma event under normal circumstances. If someone brings a blade into the room, chances are they don’t know the first thing about birth and are likely going to disrupt the process with the best of intentions. Episiotomies don’t prevent tearing, they can actually make it much worse and result in more pain and longer healing time. It’s a barbaric practice left over from the recent (current?) dark ages of birthing.
There are many ways to prevent tearing such as routine vaginal oil massages during pregnancy, increasing the amount of fat and oils in your diet, warm oil application during the final pushing stages, simply going slow during the final pushing stage, and more.
Soap or Disinfectant
Unless you are birthing in a strange environment where sick people congregate, you don’t need to worry about disinfecting or scrubbing anything or anyone. Babies are born perfectly clean! Even with meconium, the vernix is highly beneficial and should simply be left on the baby. It will absorb into the skin and be gone before you know it.
Washing the baby or mother too soon after birth can disrupt the critical bacterial exchange taking place. This sharing of microbes helps prepare the baby (and mother) for their new life post-birth.
Perfume or Cologne
Most of the time, sweat from physical exertion doesn’t smell bad. The unappealing body orders originate with a sub-optimal diet or stressful situations. So correct those things first, before trying to mask unpleasant smells with synthetic, overpowering fragrances.
Beyond the chance that someone may be allergic to the material of the gloves, you need to ask why they are wearing the gloves in the first place. Babies aren’t dirty. If the person wearing the gloves is dirty… shouldn’t they just wash their hands? If the person is welcome into the birth environment, then they should certainly be clean enough to touch the baby.
“What? But birth plans are great!” Sure, they can be. When they are followed. But if you are bringing a birth plan, then chances are you are trying to enforce a birth process on a birth team that is unfamiliar or downright hostile to your desires. And if you are in a medical setting, nearly all medical staff can and will completely disregard all prior written desires & birth plans if they deem it necessary due to an “emergency situation.” And remember, nearly every medical professional believes birth is an emergency by default!
Don’t do drugs, okay? Especially when someone in a white lab coat says it’s okay. The United States has the pharmaceutical companies and their sales team (doctors) to thank for the current opioid crises. Drugs administered before, during, and after birth absolutely do reach the baby. The placenta does not filter drugs, and your own body’s systems will be negatively impacted by most modern drugs.
So what are some other terrible things that you’ve seen people bring to a birth? Let us know in the comments below!