When should we let people know labor has begun? I get this question a lot from clients, especially if this is the first baby, AND I have some strong opinions to share.
I personally don't think announcing labor has begun is a wise idea at all. I have many reasons, backed up by experience.
- There are a lot of preconceived notions out there about labor. There's the idea that labor shouldn't take a long time, and that it never slows down or stops. So, if labor doesn't match these preconceived ideas, expect to be fielding a lot of texts and phone calls from friends and family who are concerned that something is seriously wrong.
- Announcing labor has begun and then not answering calls or texts may just bring unexpected and/or unwanted visitors to your door because they are concerned and want to make sure everything is ok.
- Announcing labor has begun might get shared with people you had preferred not know.
- Announcing labor has begun may end up on social media for all the world to see, which might not be the way you wanted to announce your baby will be arriving soon.
- Instead of being able to focus on labor and birth, you may find you are so busy answering texts and calls that labor stops and we get to try again another day, or Dad may not be able to give Mom the support she was expecting and counting on
- The blue light emitted by electronic devices may interrupt oxytocin flow, not to mention the stress hormones produced as a result of having inquiries about how labor is going. Interrupting oxytocin is a guaranteed way to have a longer, less efficient labor.
- Expect to be contacted at all hours of the day and night. People seem to forget basic manners about when it is appropriate to make a phone call or send a text when they know someone is in labor. Just like being pregnant seems to invite public comment from total strangers, knowing labor has begun seems to give people the expectation that everyone has the right to know what is going on.
I have been at a birth where Grandma shared online that labor had begun. After 24 hours with no baby, she was getting quite irritated by all the inquiries she was getting. I have attended a birth where it was announced to the extended family that labor had begun. When the parents decided to turn off the phones, the family decided to drive to the house to check on things. Neighbors who see on social media that labor has begun will ask me for updates if I step outside to get some fresh air, or they see me going to my car.
Labor and birth are hard work, and there's no reason to make it any harder than it needs to be. I honestly think the best plan is to wait to announce anything until your baby is here, and you are ready to take phone calls and have visitors.