“Can I be there when you have the baby?” Why saying no is OK

Giving birth to your baby is the huge payoff after nine months of pregnancy, which may have included heartburn, back pain, swelling, and painful contractions. Going to the hospital to delivery your baby should be a moment of joy and excitement. So why is it that some women have to worry about who will show up in the room and how they are going to play gatekeeper during this intense and busy time?

Some family members and friends who ask to be at the birth of your baby truly mean well. They are excited for both you and your partner, and they want to be there to help you meet your little one. They may have had children themselves and think that their experience can be helpful, especially if you are a first-time mom.

Other people, well, their intentions may be different. They may assume it is their right to watch their grandchild, niece, or nephew enter the world, and while they will be happy to take pictures of your newborn, they don’t actually plan to participate in the hard stuff. In the end, they just want to be one of the first people to get to see that precious new baby.

So what do you do when friends or family members start popping up and asking if they can be included in the delivery room? The answer, while simple, may be uncomfortable: if you don’t want them there, just say no. Be direct, and be firm. It’s your right.

Birthing a baby for some women is a very intimate experience that should only include her partner. Women who feel this way want to limit the amount of people present to help keep the atmosphere quiet and calm. For others, a baby’s birthday is truly a party experience, and the more the merrier. If you fall into the first group, you need to be honest and tell others that in a very straightforward manner. Don’t say yes to be polite only to turn them away at the door when they do come to the hospital (of course you can do this if you change your mind, but it may lead to some hurt feelings and confusion).

Keep in mind some people may react with anger or sadness. If you explain your reasons in a clear way, this may help them see it is nothing personal. And if it doesn’t, that’s their problem, not yours. Also remember that some people show up uninvited—even when they know they aren’t welcome! To minimize this, think carefully before you post on social media that you are heading to the hospital or have just had your baby. I’ve seen it happen many times where friends show up unannounced because they think an Instagram photo is an invite to come join the celebration.

Even after having your baby, you may want to limit your visitors. You may be tired from giving birth, and excited guests may not see that you need your rest. Getting to know your baby, responding to feeding cues, and getting off to the right start with breastfeeding can also be more difficult if your baby is spending a lot of time being passed around from visitor to visitor.

If you do end up with unwanted guests, you can always ask your nurse or doctor to run interference for you and have them explain that no visitors are allowed at this time. This can help get your message across while letting you focus on what you are there to do: have a baby!

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About Dr. Jennifer Lincoln, Medical Director, Pregnancy

Dr. Jennifer Lincoln is a board-certified generalist obstetrician/gynecologist and attending physician in Portland, Oregon. She primarily works on labor and delivery has recently been certified as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.


  1. Each time I arrived at the hospital in labor my nurses asked for a list of who was allowed in the room. This was great as it gave me one less thing to worry about as I was doing the hard and important work of bringing a baby safely into this world. Being a very private person, I had no intention of letting anyone other than my husband in on the fun.


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