Labor is pretty intense, to say the least. So it makes sense that you'd want someone you trust by your side to help you through it. When Khloé Kardashian gave birth this week, her sister Kim was there to support her—and she had a pretty important role in the process.
“I’m so happy for you! Your baby girl is so beautiful! You are so strong, you made that look so easy!” Kim wrote to Khloé on Twitter Friday. “I can’t wait for our baby girls to grow up as best friends the way we are! I’m so happy I was able to return the favor of holding your leg while you pushed LOL.”
Kim and Khloé’s sister Kourtney was also spotted in Cleveland, where Khloé gave birth, but there’s no word on whether she also had a role in the delivery.
Most hospitals and birthing centers will let you have at least two "support people" in the room with you when you give birth.
The exact number of people you can invite into the delivery room varies depending on the organization, Carol Wong, a certified nurse midwife at Massachusetts General Hospital, tells SELF. (Her hospital allows three, for example.)
Given that it might be pretty uncomfortable-slash-awkward if people just stand around and watch you give birth, you may want to get your support people involved in the process, Christine Greves, M.D., a board-certified ob/gyn at the Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies, tells SELF.
Holding a leg (like Kim did) is actually a pretty important job, Dr. Greves says; it gives you something to brace yourself against while actually pushing the baby out. This can also help open up your pelvis so you can push more effectively, G. Thomas Ruiz, M.D., an ob/gyn at MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center in Fountain Valley, Calif., tells SELF. And, he adds, having someone bracing you can help provide emotional support while pushing.
Having someone hold your legs is especially helpful if you have an epidural because you won't have much feeling from the waist down. This means you'll be pushing while laying on your back, Laurie MacLeod, a certified nurse midwife at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, tells SELF. Without an epidural, you might want to try other positions during labor, such as standing, squatting, and using a birthing stool or tub.
That said, there are plenty of other things your loved ones can do while you’re laboring away. You can designate duties like having a cool compress ready for your forehead, asking someone to hold your hand at times, having someone count to 10 when you’re pushing so the doctor doesn’t have to, and controlling music from a playlist if you decide you want background music, Dr. Greves says.
You can also pick someone to cut the umbilical cord, MacLeod says. Or, you may want a person to take photos or just put out positive, encouraging vibes. But considering you're going to be pretty occupied in the moment, it's helpful to go over what you need from each person in advance, Wong says.
Considering what an important job this is, you want to be selective when it comes to picking your team.
When you’re pregnant, everyone and their mother is going to want to be in the room with you when you give birth. But this is one situation where you need to prioritize your own wishes over everyone else's. Choose people who will be supportive and reduce your stress level rather than increase it, Wong says. And don't feel guilty about asking your third cousin to sit this one out.
Wong points out that some people can find it hard to watch a loved one in pain. So if you know your sister tends to panic when you do something as simple as stub your toe, she’s probably not the best choice. Also make sure you only invite people in who you're comfortable being vulnerable and exposed in front of.
Just because you have people in the room with you when you give birth doesn’t mean that you have to have them involved in the process at all. For instance, if you don’t feel comfortable showing off your genitals to some of your loved ones, you can request that they all stay behind your shoulders and watch the action from that side of the bed, Dr. Ruiz says.
Ultimately, this is your show—and you (with guidance from your doctor, of course) get to organize it to meet your own needs.