Crowdbirthing – really?! The truth behind this new ‘trend’

We investigate the claims that women now have 8 friends and family to watch them giving birth - and guess what we found...

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Apparently the new big thing in parenting is… crowdbirthing. That is, having crowds of your family and friends squeeze into the delivery room to cheer you on while you give birth – no doubt while chatting, checking Facebook and having a cup of tea. Oh yes, while you’re giving birth.

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Raised eyebrow? You might say. 

According to a survey by Channel Mum, women now invite an average of 8 friends and family to watch during their labour. We’re not convinced and decided to look into this a little further, so we spoke to an expert at the Royal College of Midwives to see what they thought. 

And the midwives say…

Janet Fyle, Professional Policy Advisor of the Royal College of Midwives, explains that for safety reasons, most hospitals will not allow you unlimited guests. “In order to provide high quality, safe maternity care, the services can only accommodate a limited number of persons in the birthing unit or labour ward.

“Women who give birth at home can choose to have friends present as long as this does not divert the midwife from her primary task of ensuring the safety of the mother and her baby and promote.

“It is possible that women giving birth in hospitals/birthing units can rotate their visitors in line with local visiting policies as appropriate.”

And the hospitals say…

We checked a selection of hospitals across the UK to see what their policies were on how many people were allowed in their maternity suites or birthing units. None of them admitted more than two birthing partners or visitors…

  • Harrogate District Hospital, North Yorkshire: one birthing partner
  • Great Western Hospital, Swindon: two adult birthing partners
  • Hampshire Hospital, Hertfordshire: birthing partners only (exact number not specified)
  • Queen Elizabeth II Hospital, Welwyn Garden City: two birthing partners
  • Southmead Hospital, Bristol: two birthing partners (one person in theatre or the recovery area).
  • St Thomas’ Hospital, London: two visitors
  • James Cook Hospital, South Tees: Established labour: two named birth supporters and lnduction of labour: one birth supporter
  • UCLH, London: two birthing partners

And MFMers say…

Here’s what you had to say in our forum and on our Facebook page… 

“Dear Lord no!” says MrsG14, “I had my mum and husband there for the first baby. My mum repeatedly kept leaning on my canular in my hand which was awful. And her running commentary as the baby was coming out of me was priceless – “i can see hair! loads of hair! She’s got hair on her head! etc”

“I only ever wanted my husband there,” says Pia on Facebook. “I can’t understand why anyone would want a small village present when they’re pushing out a baby.”

Lucy on Facebook comments, “My daughter was an induction and I had my mum and my partner. My son decided to come a month early and I had my best friend, my mum and my partner with me in the room and 8 doctors and midwives. So that turned into a crowd birth I suppose!”

“Good god!!  Why would people want everyone to see it?” asks Swanny85. “It’s hardly the most dignifying thing is it?  I just had my hubby there at the birth of our son, and it will just be me and hubby this time round too. I wouldn’t even feel comfortable with my mum in there to be honest! It’s all personal preference, but for me, I think it’s just something the mother and father need to witness!”

“Why would you have loads of people there just to watch you in pain?” says Gemma on FB. “They can see you when the baby arrives. Is nothing private these days! I share that moment with my husband & only my husband, after all it is our baby.”

“I couldn’t think of anything worse personally,” adds Rebecca on FB, “but each to their own.”

The MFM bottom line

Hmm, we haven’t managed to find anyone who brought 8 visitors along for a crowdbirthing party during their labour. Or a hospital that would permit it – from our small sample. Could it be a case of 3 people (or maybe 8 people) making a new trend to give the newspapers something to write about? What do you think? If you had a big crew with you, do let us know…

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