DEAR ABBY: I'm writing regarding the letter from "Pregnant and Annoyed," the woman having her first child. She wants her mother there because of the woman's experience birthing four children and having coached other women through childbirth. The husband insists that if his mom can't also be there, no one will be there except him.
As a labor and delivery nurse with 25 years' experience, I would like to point out that while delivering a baby is a joyful event, it is also difficult and stressful. I have seen the progress of labor shut down by a woman's anxiety. This isn't a show for family entertainment. No one should be in the labor room unless the person is supportive to the laboring woman and she wants them there. Most labor and delivery nurses understand this, so all the expectant mother needs to do is tell her nurse. The nurse will then inform the mother-in-law that visitors are restricted to two. Case closed. -- NURSE ANDREA, SANTA CLARA
DEAR NURSE ANDREA: Thank you! The mail I received in response to that letter and my answer was varied. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: It's time that young woman grew up. Tell her she's a grown, married adult about to become a parent. She does not need her mother to hold her hand. This is a very personal, special time for a couple. They don't need her mom in the delivery room bossing people around.
The doctors and nurses are better trained than her mom. Because Mom is so "experienced," will she be raising the baby, too? Hubby had better put his foot down now or he'll be sorry. Maybe that's what he was trying to do when he insisted his mom be there. You should have told her that her mother belongs in the waiting room with the other grandparents. -- BEEN-THERE GRANDMA
DEAR ABBY: Tempted as I was to have the "this is my body, I call the shots" attitude, I'm glad I didn't. Both families were in the room as I labored; only the two of us during delivery. It was perfect for us.
Now as I lay on strict bed rest expecting our fourth child, watching my husband juggle our three girls, cooking, cleaning, laundry, yard work, taking care of me, not to mention his own high-stress job, all without complaining even once, I'm grateful we have always worked as a team. -- PARENTING TOGETHER IN OHIO
DEAR ABBY: It didn't say in your column why he wants his mother in the room. Perhaps he wants his mother there to reassure HIM. A lot of first-time fathers are scared. Maybe if she compromised, they would both get to have a memorable delivery. If everything doesn't go as planned, she could end up with a C-section and the argument would be moot, as they allow only one person in the room. -- JASMINE IN TORONTO
DEAR ABBY: I'm a family doc. You were right to tell her to talk to her OB. During the delivery we can take control of the situation for the good of the mom and baby. I sometimes had to clear the labor room of extraneous people -- even once tossing out the dad.
Early in labor it's usually OK for friends and family to visit. But when "push comes to shove" (pardon the pun), it's time for everyone to leave except Mom's coach and Dad -- and we docs can make that happen. -- M.D. IN ELK GROVE
DEAR ABBY: My husband has a great suggestion. She should make a deal with the husband. She'll let his mother attend the birth if he'll first change a flat tire naked in front of her father. (Didn't I marry a great guy?) -- PARENTS OF FOUR, OKLAHOMA CITY