Need help deciding who to have in the delivery room by your side—and how to share those wishes? Here’s expert advice.

As your labor day nears, you’ll need to decide who to have in the delivery room with you—your partner, best friend, mother, perhaps a doula (trained nonmedical support person). Your first (easy) step: Ask the hospital how many people are allowed in the room with you. What’s next?

Who Should Be in the Delivery Room?

Narrow down the list. If your hospital doesn’t limit the number of people who can be present in the delivery room, talk to your partner about your preferences. Remember, including everyone close to you—mother, sisters, cousins, in-laws, plus nurses, your doctor, and possibly a doula—could lead to a crowded room. Many couples decide to keep the intimate birth experience to themselves. The benefits: the focus stays on the mom-to-be during labor and delivery. Then postbirth, mom and baby can enjoy skin-to-skin contact in a quiet manner before bringing in friends and relatives to meet the baby.

Address different birthing opinions. If you’ve decided to invite several key people to join you in the delivery room—say, your mom and sisters—share your birth plan or philosophy ahead of time. Let them know that the hospital is not the place for debate, even if they have differing views. What you need from them is nonjudgmental support no matter what labor and delivery path you take.

Set visitor rules. Once you decide who should be in the delivery room, feel free to set some ground rules. No outgoing phone calls during labor and delivery? No social-media status updates until after the baby is born? Whatever your preferences, decide and share them ahead of time.

Share your support list. If there are people you don’t want in the delivery room, you or your partner should tell them ahead of time to avoid any miscommunication or hurt feelings. Just explain that this is a very personal and intimate time, but you’d love for them to see the baby after. Also, let the on-call nurses know of your wishes. They are used to running interference. More important, nurses are well-versed on patient’s privacy rights and will do their best to make sure your wishes are followed.

Remember, it’s about you. Be firm about your decisions—labor and delivery are about you and your comfort, not worrying about hurting anyone’s feelings. It’s important for both you and your baby’s health and stress levels to put into action the kind of birth experience you want. That includes who is—and is not—present in the delivery room.