What’s one of the biggest issues today’s expectant mothers face? Telling family members and friends they don’t want them in the delivery room when they give birth!

Expectant mothers have always had the final say on who’s allowed in the delivery room, but an increasing number of families have begun treating births like a spectator sport. In fact, in the 1990s, it was common for expectant moms to have up to 10 people in the delivery room, for everything from hand-holding, to shooting videos. 

But in recent years, hospitals started cracking down on the number of delivery room visitors, due to concerns about hygiene and infections, but also to give the mothers some personal space. For example, at Yale New Haven Hospital, a mother-to-be can approve a maximum of 3 friends and family members who can come into the delivery room. But a lot of relatives are so used to the idea that everyone’s welcome in the delivery room that they refuse to stay out. 

So, how can expectant moms control the delivery room guest list without insulting people? Here are some tips from obstetrician Dr. Rob Olsen: 

  • First, clarify your policy about visitors. For example, if you ask your mom to “be there for you,” make it clear whether you mean “be there” when you come home from the hospital, or “be there” with a camera in the delivery room. 

  • Also, talk to everyone who’s allowed access, and warn them that you might change your mind mid-delivery, and ask them to step outside.  

  • And as for banning any relatives completely: Dr. Olsen says you’ll avoid hurt feelings by blaming the hospital’s “restrictive” visitation policy. Finally: If you’re going to be a support person in the delivery room, watch a few actual birth videos before the big day. Because if you’re freaked out by what’s on the video, you’ll just be in the way.