Is ‘crowdbirthing’ the next big thing?

Is ‘crowdbirthing’ the next big thing?

It’s been said that it takes a village to raise a child, but now one might say it takes a village to deliver a child thanks to a trend known as “crowdbirthing.”

Crowdbirthing involves inviting numerous people into a hospital delivery room or documenting the birth on social media, and is becoming especially popular among new moms in their teens and 20s. A survey published by Channel Mum, a British blogging website, found that an average of eight individuals were in the delivery room for new moms under 30 years old.

While having numerous people by their side during labor can be helpful, 60 percent of women surveyed felt that as childbirth is becoming more public, they are feeling increased pressure to deliver a certain way. Approximately 15 percent also felt pressure from celebrities who seem to breeze through delivery.

In addition, more than 33 percent of the women surveyed reported that they want to refuse pain medications because they are afraid of being judged. Another 20 percent felt having a C-section would make it seem as though they failed at giving birth.

While American celebrities like Kim Kardashian gave birth in front of a large number of people, locally, some physicians say they aren’t seeing a large number of moms opting for crowdbirthing, but do offer some caution.

Dr. Susan Mitchell, an obstetrician/gynecologist at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove, Ill., cautions patients that having too many people in the delivery room can take the focus away from the mom and baby, and can make it harder for the doctor and nurses to safely provide care.

“If there is someone you are considering inviting to come to the hospital while you are in labor – if that person makes you feel strong, empowered and supported – that is an excellent person to invite,” says Dr. Mitchell. “If someone wants to be there for your delivery and it is a person who makes you feel criticized, self-conscious or inadequate, that person is not invited.”

For those who are invited into the delivery room, attending a prenatal class can help them learn what to expect during labor and how to be helpful. In addition, Dr. Mitchell suggests supporting laboring mom by:

  • Getting her water to drink
  • Rubbing her back or shoulders
  • Reminding her that she is wonderful, strong and doing a great job

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  1. Judith A Carlson August 13, 2015 at 11:43 am · Reply

    Wow, things sure have changed! When my kids were born my husband was not allowed in the delivery room at all. Then when my grandkids were born, the fathers were allowed in the delivery room and it he wasn’t available then whomever the mother designated was allowed – but just one person. Then when my great-grandkids were born, fathers and grandmothers were allowed in. Now it’s anyone the mother chooses and as many as the hospital allows. I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing, but it sure is a different thing.

  2. “Crowdbirthing” is just a silly name for a traditional practice. For millennia, women were surrounded by a community of other women while she gave birth — midwife, mother, sisters, other female friends or family members. It was only when birth moved into hospitals in the first half of the 20th century that it became detached from the “village.”

    Having support during the birth process is vital and can make a huge difference in a woman’s labor. For some, that may be the comfort of just one person, while for others it may be the comfort and support of several. Every woman is different.

    When both of my daughters were born, my husband, midwife and midwife’s assistant were present — as were a couple of friends and a doula. Every one of those people ultimately played an irreplaceable role in the experience, each in different ways, and I will be forever grateful for their support.

    I never once thought they would invade my privacy or that it would be weird. I only invited people I cared for and trusted to be in that space with me. And privacy is a moot point for many anyway — in a hospital, when a woman is on the verge of giving birth, it is not uncommon for a virtual clown car of doctors and nurses — all complete strangers! — to burst into the room unannounced, while mom lays in bed with a ceiling-mounted industrial strength spotlight shining on her nether regions. My friends’ presence pales in comparison 😉

    Of course, in a hospital, that can certainly be too many cooks in the kitchen. If the labor and delivery room is small (and many are) and physicians and midwives are tripping over guests in order to provide care to mother or baby, that can certainly be a problem, and potentially a very serious one.

    Perhaps the answer is bigger hospital rooms!

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.