More People Should Watch Women Give Birth

One of the best things my mother ever did for me was to allow me to be present at my sister's birth. I was 8 and it was the mid-1980s. At the time, it was very chic to allow older children into the delivery room and, even though I was confused by it, the experience is responsible for making my own first birth (exactly) 20 years later that much easier.

Being present at a live birth is a privilege, one I would happily partake in again given the right circumstance. Maybe when my own sister gives birth or when my closest friend does, they will invite me. But maybe not.

Certainly when I gave birth, I was very private about it both times. I only wanted my husband and my midwife in the room, and other than the nurse, that is exactly how it went. But if I were invited to go again, I would in a second.


Obviously what matters most is the comfort of the laboring mother. But if she is OK with people being in the room, it seems like people should come and be there to support her. The more love in a room when a baby appears, the better!

Also, birth is something people seem to fear. There is this pervasive notion out there that it's somehow disgusting and bloody and that everyone is in horrific pain. It doesn't have to be that way. The more people who see real birth and who understand the way it really happens, the less people will be scared.

My mom screamed and was in obvious pain, but when it came time for me to birth, I wasn't scared. I skipped all the drugs and had two easy, natural births. I think I owed that largely to having been around birth and not having that fear of the unknown.

As "scary" as birth can be, just knowing what you are in for and knowing that you saw someone in the throes who came out happily on the other side makes it easier. If all women saw a real birth before giving birth, there might be less fear.

Sure, birth is painful (or "intense" if you prefer), but it has such a wonderful outcome that the "pain" is often not that big of a deal. But for most pregnant women, it's a scary unknown, something they've never seen except in videos and something they've only heard bad things about.

More people in the birthing room would change that.

Would you watch a live birth? Would you let someone watch yours?

Image via dizznbonn/Flickr

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