Hospital & Birth Etiquette

I have been sitting on this post for a few weeks, not being sure whether it was appropriate to share.  This is a subject that is now very sensitive to me after my own experience with labor, delivery and visitors.  I truly believe most people don’t understand the rules of etiquette when it comes to baby hospital visits and such, so if this can serve to enlighten even one person, I’m happy.

A few weeks ago I read this fabulous article from one of my favorite etiquette blogs, The Pink Teapot. Janine gives some awesome tips for Moms-to-be as well as potential visitors.  Some of my favorite points:

For the Mom’s to be:
  • It’s okay to say no.  There is no cause to be rude.  Although sometimes we have people in our lives who are pushy or overstep their bounds, we can plan ahead, thus helping to minimize the “drama”, let me explain:  the day you are in labor is the wrong day to discuss with your mother-in-law that you’d rather she not be in the room as you’re delivering your baby.  Think ahead of people who you need to discuss this with and have a candid conversation with them.  If you are unable to do so in person (because of fear or logistics), a sweet email, filled with excitement about the new baby and a clear invite or boundary given, will help ease that tension.
  • You need your rest:  This is more than an etiquette tip, it’s advice from a mother of four.  I so enjoy company and love people, but the 48 or so hours we spend in the hospital with a newborn baby combined with the annoying (but necessary) interruptions of the hospital staff, do not create a restful environment to begin with.  Mix in all kinds of visitors and you’re even more exhausted when you come home even if you thrive on people like I do.

For the Visitor (family or otherwise):

  • Please respect that it is not the end of the world if you are not there for the actual labor and delivery of your grandchild.  Although I understand it may feel that way, it’s simply not the time to be imposing on another person.  I remember my sweet mother-in-law and I having conversations about this when I was pregnant with my first child and I remember her being so respectful of my wishes.  I actually wanted her there just after, and we told the family we’d call them.  My husband’s family as well as mine respected that and we had all of our family around us within hours of my son’s debut into this world.
  • Please don’t ask if you can be there during labor and delivery- and don’t just show up.  Again, this is a private thing, a painful thing, a wonderful thing.  There are so many emotions wrapped up into this event that make it special.  It should not be intruded upon by someone else, no matter who that person is.
  • Don’t get your feelings hurt.  My wise mother always says, “remember it’s not about you, it’s about them”.  I am a tender-hearted person and I wear my heart on my sleeve, so I understand getting my feelings hurt, but this is not about you, this is about the person who is holding that little bundle of joy…remember that.
  • Don’t assume and bring children. It’s always best not to bring children to the hospital for so many reasons. They press the call buttons, run around, bring germs along with their sweet faces… none of these things are appreciated. A visit can always wait until they get home from the hospital so you can find someone to tend to your children to go and visit the baby and mother.

That was pretty lengthy, but I couldn’t really leave anything out! I love how she includes tips for both the mother and the visitors, because really, everyone could use some help in these awkward situations. No one wants to have a horrible birth experience!

I know the comment about getting your rest sure hits home (right, Kourtni, Colleen, Larissa, Kristen, Jennifer, Megan, Jimaie, Kristen, Shea, Lisa, Talia, Nanette, Liz, Natali, Molly & soon to be Crystal, Tristan and Kate? Whew!)

If I can stress one thing, it would be to accept the help that is offered to you.  Those first few days after you pop that baby out are so tough… DON’T TRY TO BE A HERO, lady.  If you have a mom, sister, grandmother or friend who is willing to watch the baby for even 2 hours while you get some rest, jump on that opportunity with no reservations.

Do you all have anything to add? Any good, bad, or ugly hospital experiences to share with the rest of us? A tip or two for the moms-to-be?