If I have my baby at home, what will my neighbors think of the noise?

August 25 | Guest post by Joriel Foltz
@offbeathome runs these advice questions as an opportunity for our readers to share personal experiences and anecdotes. Readers are responsible for doing their own research before following any advice given here... or anywhere else on the web, for that matter.
we become three
People on the street four flights down totally heard me giving birth!
Ideally, I would like a midwife-assisted home birth, but we live in a condo unit where the sound carries through the ceiling. What steps should I take to ensure we are good neighbors should we decide to go through with this? We were thinking of giving the couple above us a heads up about the 4th or 5th month and budget in a few nights for them in a mid-range hotel. Our neighbors are nice and considerate people with whom we have a good rapport. We both own our units and will possibly be neighbors for a good long while. -Stacy

I totally sympathize with these concerns!

When I had my son three years ago, I lived in a small apartment with walls thin enough that we could sometimes tell what our neighbors were watching on television. In the months leading up to my homebirth, I stressed a lot about the noise potential. I really wanted to be in my own space, but I was worried about bothering people and I was even more worried that my anxiety about making noise would interfere with my ability to focus on bringing my son into the world.

My midwife laughed kindly at that last concern. "When that baby's coming, you won't care about making noise," she assured me. And she was absolutely right. I roared like a lion through my contractions, and I didn't care who heard.

Fortunately, we had informed our next door neighbor and our apartment managers who lived two doors down. We also put a note on the door in case anybody came wondering what all the noise was about. My neighbor told me later that she was cheering me on. She also said that when she took her garbage out that night, some people down on the street were wondering about the noise and pondering whether they should call the police. It must have been loud if they could hear it from the fourth floor window! She explained the situation, and they went on their way.

But even if the police had come knocking on the door, I wouldn't have cared. That's the wonderful thing about having a birth team (in my case, my doula, midwife, and partner) you can trust. I'm so grateful I was able to give birth in my home. It was such a gift for us to be able to crawl right into bed when it was over and not have to deal with anything or anyone but our sweet boy.

In my opinion, offering to pay for a hotel is above and beyond. If your neighbors seem really freaked out and you feel it's necessary to keep the neighborly relationship positive, then okay. But are you going to pay for a hotel every time your baby cries in the night? It's courteous and sensible to let folks know what's up, but you have nothing to apologize for or compensate for. Babies used to be born at home all the time, and everybody understood that birth is noisy but natural. It wasn't a big deal. Often, it was exciting for the whole neighborhood. Now we're used to the idea of hiding birth away in hospitals, but I'd love to see us come back around as a society to embracing birth as a part of life that might very well be happening right next door.

Join our community!

  1. I love this post! Noise was my husband's #1 concern while planning our homebirth. Our midwives assured us that they'd helped out babies in many apartments (including some in our complex!), and nobody had ever called the police or knocked on the door or thumped on the wall. They reminded us of how many loud things people do everyday, like vacuuming (our upstairs neighbor vacuumed at least once a day), arguing (ahem, downstairs couple), working out to loud music (next door neighbors). I thought about warning our neighbors or putting a sign on the door, but then I figured they've seen me waddling around for the past couple of months, so they knew there was a baby coming. Also I'd barely spoken to any of them since we'd moved in…

    Of course, my son was born in the early evening, while everyone was cooking dinner and watching the local news, so maybe they didn't even notice. I'm not sure how they would have reacted had I been making noises at 2am, but I wouldn't have cared anyway, and they would have gotten over it.

    3 agree
  2. I had a home birth, and I can second the fact that you won't care when it comes down to it. Our neighbors were up having coffee in their kitchen at 445am when my son was born, and they didn't hear a thing (we lived in a condo at the time). I also think that offering to pay for a hotel is waaay too nice. A birth is one of those events that neighbors should just chill out about. It's not like it is going to happen more than once in a really great while, you can't really control the level of noise they are hearing, and if it really bothers them that much, then they should invest in a pair of $1 ear plugs. If my neighbor had a home birth (hey! She did!), I would be totally excited for her and cheer her on, like the author mentioned her neighbor doing. If you really are concerned about it, take them a six pack of beer or a bottle of wine, those earplugs (as a "joke"), and a nice thank you for understanding type note. I bet they don't care one bit.

    4 agree
  3. I admit that my main worry for choosing to birth in my own home was what the neighbors would think. But I got my priorities straightened out – amazing midwife who only does home birth, comfort, etc. "Fortunately", it turns out that the apartment across the alley is now home to several LOUD tenants who don't give a damn about what their neighbors think. So neither will I. And the neighbor we share a wall with is way sweet and excited for us so it's just a matter of telling her I plan to birth at home and maybe handing her some earplugs?

    2 agree
  4. Hi! I'm the questioner above. While I am nervous about about my comfort level (having a lot of social anxiety issues) I realize it won't really matter to me in the moment. I'm more concerned with the community's feeling towards us afterwards. Most of our neighbors are 60+ retirees who love to spy on everyone out the window and gossip incessantly. It's a bit uncomfortable.

    1 agrees
    • I hear you there! my mom gave me great advice on the subject though "if its already uncomfortable how much worse can it get? let them gossip, you'll be the one with the beautiful baby!" I think that notifying them ahead of time, with maybe a thank you for understanding gift (joke earplugs like the commenter above?) is a great way to go! best of luck!

      1 agrees
    • People are going to have their opinions. Probably some will think you're kooky hippies for having your baby at home, and others will have fond memories of bringing their own children into the world. But beyond being courteous and letting your immediate neighbors know in advance, you can't control any of that. You're going to drive yourself crazy if you try to manage the feelings and reactions of everybody in the building, especially because – as other commenters have said – most people probably won't hear anything anyway.

      My main message is that of course being a good neighbor is important, but there's only so much you can do. Having a baby at home is not the same as having a wild party. You have every right to feel good about it, even if (worst case scenario) you do have one or two haters in the aftermath. And I would imagine that most of those retirees will be very excited to have a wee baby joining in their community.

      3 agree
    • I think the point above is spot on. You're not going to buy them a hotel room every time the baby cries.

      Furthermore, people don't expect soundproof walls when they move into condos/apartments. Noisy neighbors is a risk your neighbors have taken; they should just be lucky that you won't always be that loud.

      Really, I think you should tell them and put a sign on the door, but that's it.

    • I had my son in January at home. We live in a tiny Victorian Terrace in the UK (example: if you've ever seen Ariel's posts about the 'cupboard' Tavi sleeps in, that's billed as a 'second bedroom' in England!), and our walls are paper thin. I warned my neighbours and provided earplugs! Cheaper than a hotel (and let's face it, if you do what I did and labour in the daytime, you'll kick yourself at the unnecessary expenditure!), but you still feel like you've done your bit.

      As for 60 something retirees, in my experience it is this age group that most like to accost me on the bus or in the supermarket to tell me what a lovely baby I have! Trust me, they're hankering for grandbabies of their own, so I don't think they'd be too difficult. Also, they were all probably born at home, too, so while it seems an unusual thing today for modern mothers-to-be, it was more normal for that generation (or at least that's how it is in England)!

    • Let them spy and gossip all they want. What are they gonna say? "OMG SHE HAD A BABY!" Big deal. Plus, as someone else pointed out, if they are all older like you said, they may not think it's a big deal to begin with — home births were much more common in "their time." Of course, some of your neighbors may be the type who get freaked out by screaming or whatever you imagine will be happening (honestly, I am only mentioning this because I recently met one of my neighbors, who is a Vietnam vet and was apparently having flashbacks from his upstairs neighbor making some kind of pounding noise, so I can only imagine his reaction if I was having a baby right next door). That being said, I would probably let them know that this is going to be happening eventually and put a sign on my door to (hopefully) avoid being bothered.

    • The thing is–all your neighbours are going to want to see the baby! Babies are exciting and will smooth over little social problems for you.

  5. My question is not directly related, but I have been curious for a while. How do you empty the birth pool? Thanks!

    • You don't have to clean it. the company that brings it does all of that.

    • You can create a siphon with a hose of some sort, and empty it into the bathtub or sink.

    • I'm kind of hoping we can set it up outside and empty it straight into the garden! LOL. Seriously, though, if it's nice out, can we set the birth pool up in our back yard?

      1 agrees
  6. Earplugs FTW. We live in a terraced house with pretty thin walls, and the people on either side of us are neighbourly enough. We did them a favour and went round with earplugs for everyone about a week before we were due. They're cheap and pretty effective.

    Turns out most of my wife's full-throated bellowing took place after everyone had gone to work. Bonus.


    1 agrees
  7. Stacy – as other people have said, when you are bringing your baby down you probably won't care about the noise. I wanted to toss in the possibility that you may not be noisy at all. In my first birth I did lots of moaning, but never had the desire to yell or roar. I'm planning a home birth this time and my husband has been worried about the noise. I told him that if our neighbors even notice, they'll probably just think we are having great sex. Also, it helps that I'm the apartment manager, so they won't be able to complain :-) Birth is an exciting experience and I wouldn't be surprised if rather than being put out, your neighbors are just excited to be a part of the process, even if it is just via hearing you through the walls. Good luck!

  8. I've never given birth and never plan to – but I do have a neighbor's POV to offer. One of our neighbors gave birth to her daughter at home this past spring and it was amazing for everyone. I live in a condo building where several of us are close – so a few of us women who are also moms took turns giving her husband a break during the long slog of labor (the whole thing took about 24 hours) and when the midwife arrived and she was actually making noise everybody else was asleep. She thought she was SO LOUD – screaming with her head out the window apparently – but no one heard. And we wouldn't have minded a bit. It was exciting and lovely.

    14 agree
    • Aww, this made me all warm and fuzzy.

      3 agree
  9. That picture with the lady giving birth in the tub was hanging in my midwife's office and I looked at it every time I went for an appointment. It was my favorite. I always loved how astonished the woman looked-like "really? There's a baby in my arms?" that was what it was like for me. I was astonished that there was an actual baby at the end of the labor and delivery. And I too gave birth at home and was worried about the noise but later when I asked the neighbors, no one had even heard anything. I thought for sure they would have. I also don't think I was really as loud as I thought I would be. and it was more moaning not actual screaming. I thought about creating and distributing flyers and putting them in people's mailboxes but then I'd worry about peeping toms so I never did it. I just tried not to think about it and while in labor I didn't think about it.

    • When you say "that picture," you mean the one in this post? Cuz that's Joriel, the author! You must have had the same midwife. :)

  10. When I was in labor with my son, it seemed like the loudest experience ever. There was so much internal noise going off in my head (plus the noise from the jacuzzi jets in the tub), I remember the experience as being a constant noisy experience, like riding near the jets in a small plane.
    Later, when I began my journey to become a doula, I was shocked at how quiet birth actually tends to be. Sure, there's some moaning, and on occasion yelling towards the end, but over all, its a very quiet and pensive experience. Of course, it's different for everyone, but I think the noise your neighbors will hear will be minimal compared to what you will be hearing inside yourself. I wouldn't stress about the noise, personally. But, you know how you will react better than anyone else. It is very considerate for you to think about your neighbors that way. And I think its great that this opportunity exists to normalize home birth. It would be a good thing if all your neighbors hear, in my opinion!

  11. I'm really disturbed by all the "Who cares if the neighbors are upset" comments. Isn't it worthwhile to put a little effort into making sure the community in which you're raising your child is a connected, caring one? Why would you want to live in a building where your neighbors are pissed at you?

    I think buying your neighbors a hotel room might be a little over the top, especially since you don't know when you'll go into labor and they might have to leave on short notice. But a friendly note letting them know the situation and asking if there's anything they'd like you to do would probably cover it.

    9 agree
    • I completely agree. The "who cares", "get over it" attitude seems a bit much for me. It's one thing if you own your own home or condo. It's another thing if you live in a large apartment complex. How would you feel if your neighbors were holding a loud party, shrugged their shoulders and told you to "get over it"? Compassion and understanding goes both ways.

      9 agree
      • Babies might not cry for 20 hours a day, but they might cry for several hours a day for many, many months. I think labor and babies crying are pretty well paired as "Potentially bothersome noises that need to be accepted." The baby crying/labor noise comparison is also a good pairing because they are both noises that are so intense and potentially stressful when they are coming from your household, the adding the worry of bothered neighbors is unwarranted.

        3 agree
    • The choice to birth at home is a human right. The concept that the neighbors have a say in your personal life is peculiar to say the least.

      Do you ask your neighbors if you can have loud sex? Do you ask them if your baby can cry?

      While I understand that birth can be loud, sometimes you have to do what you have to do. Handing out earplugs/warnings about the noise should be sufficient care and compassion for neighbors. It's not as though you're opening a nightclub in your apartment – birth is a relatively short event in the scheme of things.

      • But you don't have loud sex for a full day. Your baby doesn't scream for 20 hours. It does make a difference. I agree that you CAN have a home birth if that is what you choose, but it's also polite to consider the comfort of others who live, essentially, in the same space as you do.

        5 agree
      • I wouldn't suggest asking your neighbors if you CAN have a home birth, and I didn't think the original poster was asking that either. What I got out of the original question was not "Should I let my neighbors decide whether I have a home birth?" but rather "If I decide to have a home birth, what can I do to maintain a good relationship with my neighbors?" I think there's a large middle ground between letting others dictate your actions, and considering how your actions affect others.

        7 agree
    • I don't think anyone's really saying "Who cares about the neighbors", I think they're saying "You're not going to care about the noise yourself", which is a nod towards discouraging self consciousness during labor. While it can hinder labor to be self conscious of things how loud you're being or who's seeing you naked, and advising the questioner not to be self conscious or to worry about her own fears of noise is very good advice, I do think it misses the point a little. I don't think the asker is worried about how she'll look if she's noisy during birth, but more that she is worried about bothering her neighbors. I might be off base. I think there's a little bit of truth to both sides, there's a certain level of noise acceptance one has to make when living in apartments or condos. There's a certain level of noise that crosses the line and you shouldn't have to accept it. I think most births are going to fall closer to the acceptance range, but if you're worried it might be closer to the raging party end of the scale, it doesn't hurt to give people a heads up. You shouldn't feel the need to change your birth plans for another's comfort, but a polite "By the way, I'm having a home birth so if things get noisy, sorry in advance!" won't hurt anything for anyone.
      After that, if they still have a problem, then you can certainly say "Screw 'em!"

      5 agree
    • I'm saying "who cares about the neighbors" if the neighbors hold a grudge about a few hours of moaning. Sometimes life gets noisy. So long as you're as considerate as life allows, I think most people would probably get over it and move on, if they were even bothered in the first place. I personally think loud parties are way more annoying than a woman birthing a baby. And loud parties can (and do) happen a few times a week. Babies probably aren't going to be born in one building a few times a week. Unless it's a reeeeeeally big and fertile building.

      1 agrees
  12. I live on a 2nd-floor apartment and we're planning a homebirth, too. I don't really know any of my neighbors, and homebirth midwives aren't licensed in my state, but for my own peace of mind I plan on putting the following sign on our front door, just in case the courtesy officer or any worried neighbors come knocking: "Woman in labor! We apologize for any disturbance. We are fine and do not need any assistance. Thank you!"

    I like the earplug idea too – maybe we'll attach a little bag of them to our sign with a note to help yourself!

    6 agree
  13. The neighbors are one thing – what about the landlord?? My husband and I are thinking about starting to try next year, and we'll definitely still be renting. How can we explain homebirth to our conservative landlord? What rights do we have in this? Has anyone had a homebirth while renting? Our landlord is pretty nice but I think this idea might be a little too much for him!

    1 agrees
    • I think it may be as simple as this: all of this advice applies to you too – offer a little bit of communication/consideration for your neighbours, especially those in your building – and if the landlord lives there, he/she is included in that. Beyond that, there should be no need at all (correct me if I am wrong, fellow homies, maybe things are different in different places) to notify/discuss this matter with him/her. As a renter, your apartment is still your space, your home – if you wanted to undertake some activity/project that could potentially affect the home in some physical way, that would be a different matter. But I can't see why giving birth at home would do any damage – even in the case of a huge, water-filled birth tub, it's cleaned up and removed again after – so I can't see why it would be the landlord's business in the least!

      3 agree
    • I agree! Unless your landlord is that guy who drops by all of the time, I can't fathom why it would be any of his business. I don't say that to be rude but totally seriously. You have a security deposit incase the tub spills and ruins the carpet (you should have protective layers down anyway) and short of that I can't think of any circumstance where homebirth would impact anything so significantly that your rental contract would be involved. Check this off the "stuff to worry about list" : )

    • If you have a weird or mean or strict landlord, I might check the lease to see if there is a clause prohibiting waterbeds – there sometimes is – or any other similarly restrictive clause that the landlord could use to harass you. I think that in 98% of cases there would be no problem, but if there was any water damage from the pool or if somehow the landlord found out, there are a few of them out there who would freak out and try to charge you a fee or make trouble.

      I don't mean to put this on anyone's "stuff to worry about" list, more to say that if you rent AND you already know that you have a weirdo or a jerk for a landlord, it might be worth taking a couple extra steps, checking the lease and making sure everyone knows what's going on so nobody in the building complains to the landlord.

  14. I may hold an unpopular opinion, but based on my own experience, I have to be honest: if your neighbors will be bothered by the noise, perhaps you shouldn't have a home birth. Birthing noise is not like other, regular household noise. Precisely because you won't care once you're in the moment, it's likely to be very loud and very…how I can put it…primal? Maybe that's word I want? Also consider that it may be going on for a very, very long time. My labor was 30 hours and I made a LOT of noise. Even the most patient of neighbors are going to crack after a full day of screams and moans.

    6 agree
    • But as Joriel said, home birth used to be a normal household noise. The more women have their babies at home, the more it will return to normalcy.

      I understand you may not want it to, but given our dismal maternal and infant morbidity and mortality rates, it's clear that we really need home birth to return to normalcy in this country. The US has birth stats similar to many developing nations. Home birth is part of the solution that saves the lives of mothers and babies.

      It may be unpopular for me to bring this up, but more women and babies die and are seriously injured in child birth here than in something like 45 other countries in the world, countries that include Cuba, Costa Rica, Latvia and EVERY OTHER DEVELOPED NATION.

      Numerous large studies have found that access to homebirth with a skilled provider for women experiencing a normal pregnancy can drastically reduce negative birth outcomes. Being accepting of homebirth, even if it's not a choice you'd make yourself, is kind of a matter of life and death. If we frown upon homebirth, we make it less accessible over time, and as we do that we force more and more women and babies into a system that kills women and babies every day. We should be encouraging the changes in the system needed to save lives. Home birth is one of them.

      Homebirth isn't for everyone and I'm not saying everyone
      should shoot for it, but for those for whom it is the right choice, we should remove as many barriers as possible. Safe, healthy birth is a basic human right.

      2 agree
  15. I really want to thank everyone for this discussion! My husband and I have pretty much gone through some of these points before, but it really helps to see it come from someone else. Thank you all for being such a wonderful community.

    1 agrees
  16. What I keep thinking while reading all of these comments is…. can someone really complain that someone gave birth and was loud?? I mean, what if you went into labour suddenly and couldn't make it to the hospital? Guess you'd have to have it at home….wherever 'home' is… which might be in close quarters with others. I don't feel that it's necessary to pass it with your neighbours, but it's probably a good idea to let them know, lest they think you're being killed or something. I've screamed in my apartment before due to large spiders– no one's ever called the cops. I've never lived anywhere where I've talked to my neighbours— the doors to the units are quite far away, and I never see anyone in the halls. Maybe giving the apartment/condo manager the heads up would be good, in case they receive calls from inquiring neighbours. I feel like birth is almost a taboo nowadays– it's great to bring it into a more public sphere. I'm not against hospital births either- but if you want a home birth, I don't feel like where you live should be a determining factor.

  17. I never made any noise my whole labor, not a peep which is kinda unusually because I'm generally the kind of person who never shuts up! You might be that way in labor too. Even if your not, if you inform your neighbors of what is happening and do something cute like ear plugs I bet they will be nothing but excited for you. In fact I bet you by the time that little muffin is born you will have a line of neighbors outside your door anxious to see what all of the fuss was about! Best of luck with your home birth!

  18. I think a warning so they know nothing is wrong and that you have good people looking after you would be a good start. If I heard my pregnany neighbour moaning/groaning and clearly in pain I would be concerned. I would be very likely to check on her, and you probably don't want to be interrupted.

    If I knew she was planning a homebirth and was going to be attended by people to ensure she was safe, I would feel much better.

    The plus side of this approach is that you can even an apology in advance for any
    disruption and gauge their response. That would definitely help me feel more comfortable if I were in your shoe – espcially since you said you both own your places, so you're stuck with each other as neighbours!

    I hope it all goes swimmingly, and that we get to read your follow-up happy homebirth birth story!

    1 agrees
  19. "Babies used to be born at home all the time, and everybody understood that birth is noisy but natural. It wasn't a big deal."

    Joriel, you just blew my mind! I had never thought about that before — but that's so true! And as much as I'm uncomfortable with the idea of giving birth (makes me all squeamish) I, too, hope that it reverts back to that way. I bet that if childbirth was still done in our neighborhoods instead of "hidden away" that I wouldn't be so freaked out by it.

    2 agree
  20. I screamed the whole way through my labor, I'm not gonna lie. I mean SCREAMED to the point that I could see concern on the nurses' faces. I remember worrying for a moment that I was disturbing the other women in labor in the hospital, that they were all having nice quiet births until my murderous screaming started.

    So based on that, I would give your neighbors a heads up and put a sign on the door, just so no one thinks they need to call an ambulance if you do have a loud labor.

    That said, I totally agree that this is your space, you're only in labor once, and even if it goes on for a couple of days, "usually" only the latter part of labor gets even close to disturbingly loud. You have the right to have your baby at home and it way outweighs the inconvenience to your neighbors in my opinion.

    2 agree
  21. Sorry to be the voice of negativity, but I would be SO pissed if I had to hear my neighbor giving birth. I have anxiety issues and PTSD from giving birth, so I would probably have a heart attack if I had to hear someone in the unit over having a baby. Baby cries? No biggie. However, I did not spend the past five years in therapy to be taken back to the worst experience of my life (don't get me wrong, I LOVE my son, but not all of us embrace pregnancy/child birth). Besides, I wouldn't want to have to explain that to my son. He would be terrified with all the screaming and wouldn't understand. I think anyone considering a home birth needs to consider the feelings of others. Yes, it's your "birth story," but you still have to consider the feelings of others.

    4 agree
    • I am so sorry you had such a traumatizing birth experience. Your situation is relatively rare, but in that scenario I would think the birthing couple would be able to work with you to find a good solution. Maybe this is a situation that would call for the offering of springing for a hotel room or something like that.
      On the other hand, if your neighbors came to you saying they were having a home birth, there's no way to tell if this is going to be a noisy labor in advance. Maybe the whole birth would happen without you knowing.
      I think there has to be some give and take both ways, but your situation would need some special consideration. However, it wouldn't have to mean that your neighbors not have a home birth because of your needs, it would just mean a few extra steps for everyone.

      1 agrees
  22. I'm not a momma, but I have insight on this from the other side of the paper-thin walls. When I lived in a townhouse and my neighbors had a home birth. We had a friendly relationship so they told me about their plans well in advance along with others in the neighborhood. Two months before the due date I came home to a surprise set of noise canceling headphones and a custom mix CD (they could hear me too sometimes after all!). I was at work for almost half of the loud part of the birthing. I came home to see a note on their door that the birth was happening and could hear my neighbor screaming. I won't lie, I did listen for a while out of curiosity, but I felt guilty for listening in on an extremely personal event. I walked my dog and talked with other neighbors about the noise. They had given those farther away ear plugs. I came home after the walk and popped on my headphones and turned up the tunes. I could still hear the birth, but it became a background noise (though I could hear the mother's reaction to the ring of fire pretty clearly!). To give myself something to do other than fret over the activities next door, I made a giant batch of eggplant parm for myself and some to take over later. Since the kitchen was the farthest room from where the birth was happening that lessened the noise too. I decided to sleep on my living room sofa that night (again, farther from the birthing). I woke up when I heard the babies first cries around 1 a.m. I snuggled down for the rest of the night and got a full 8 hours. I dropped off the food when I saw the father taking out some trash and offered my congratulations and assured them that I had been fine and minimally disturbed. They appreciated not having to make dinner the night after the birth and I got a fairly quiet night with great music. Win-win! Other neighbors said they could hear the birth, but the ear plugs helped and no one was too disturbed. They sent round announcements/thank you notes after. If anyone was upset I never heard about it.

    3 agree
  23. Just wanted to say that you may be surprised when the time comes and feel like you are screaming but actually be fairly quiet. I felt like I was screaming "Oh f*** Oh f***" over and over while I was pushing and found out after that I wasn't very loud at all. . . Just letting you know it may not be a problem at all…

  24. Hey, just another perspective. I have been a doula for a couple of home births. We notified the immediate neighbours several weeks in advance (one of my jobs, as the mother was a little uncomfortable about what the neighbours would think. Coming from me, the neighbours had a chance to ask questions etc). Everyone seemed quite positive about it, and I gave people my email address in case they had concerns or questions prior to the event. On the day and evening of birth the mother did go through cycles of quiet and intense noise. Interestingly, the neighbours were so supportive they left gifts on the doorstep once they heard the noise. Once the baby was born, the family were greeted with cakes, cookies, cards and gifts I found by the front door!

  25. Over the course of many years in one apartment building, two of my neighbors (that I know of) had home births. The first family (many years ago, back when home births were even rarer than now) informed their nearest neighbors personally, and when labor started they put a very sweet note on their door that said something like, "Please forgive the noise – we're having a baby!" This family had the rest of the apartment building cooing for weeks, and had impromptu gifts at their doorstep from all of their neighbors.

    The second family didn't inform anyone, perhaps due to having more of a "who cares what the neighbors think – it's natural!" perspective. This family had no gifts at their apartment door, but they did end up with strained relationships with their neighbors, who were at first extremely concerned about the laboring noises, which began in the middle of the night.

    I didn't share walls with either of these families, so I wasn't personally affected by either labor. Based on chatting with my neighbors who did share walls with both families, however, I think the straightforward, communicative, courteous family won a lot of fans, while the other family won more strained relationships, which may have made things more difficult for them in the long run.

    4 agree
  26. Hi, I live in the UK and homebirths seem to be much more popular here. I tried for a homebirth (but had to go into hospital for the last hour due to pushing for waaaaay too long!). I was concerned about how much noise I would make, especially as I went into labour early on a Saturday morning. However, our neighbours were well aware that I was pregnant and I think when they heard the yelling and the moo-ing (it felt so good to moo) they knew exactly what was happening. It's a shame I had to go to hospital, but baby arrived safe and well and that's all that matters, but being at home actually saved me from having a c-section, which they would have enforced a lot earlier in the hospital.
    Labour, for me, was a weird almost supernatural journey. It was just me and the baby working hard to get him here. My partner and the midwives just carried on chatting, drinking coffee, doing their thing while I swayed and rocked (and mooed some more) in my own little world. When the moment comes, embrace it and go with it. An advance warning to any neighbours within earshot would put your mind at rest that no-one is about to call the police or bang on your door and ask you to keep the noise down. It may not seem like it at the time, but it is an experience I hope you will look back on with joy. x

    1 agrees
  27. My only concern would be if there are kids in the building who would be disturbed. I realise birth is a part of the circle of life, and that it's wonderful and blah blah blah… but I wouldn't want to be forced to explain the miracle of birth (ie why the woman nextdoor is screaming for hours) to a concerned child. Kids are wonderfully empathetic critters and I'd be concerned that they would be upset by the noise.

    1 agrees
    • I'm not knocking your concern, but it's confusing to me. Why wouldn't you want to explain the miracle of life to children? My son is three and he watches birth videos with me. He knows exactly how babies come out of their mommy's yonis. I don't think of it as anything awkward, I'm teaching him basic biology. He also knows how food turns into poop in your tummy, and how your body makes it's own bandaids called scabs.

      The human body can be kind of gross, I suppose, but I don't want to teach my child that the functions of it are anything to be ashamed of or kept secret. However, I must admit I was a little vague when a discussion on which animals are mammals (mammals have fur, mammals feed their babies with their boobies, mammals make their babies in their tummies) turned into a question about how the babies get into the tummy. I told him "The mommy and daddy make the baby in the mommy's tummy with their pee pee and yoni." I think that's probably age appropriate for a three year old.

      I do understand that kids can be sensitive and hearing the noises of someone in pain can be disturbing to them, but the part of labor that tends to be the noisiest, most painful sounding, only tends to last about an hour or two, tops. It would be a good time to take them out for an outing. Maybe the expecting parents can spring for museum or movie tickets that can be redeemed any time for any neighboring parents and their kids.

      Of course, I plan to keep my son in the house with me when I have my next baby, and as a bit of a naturalist and science nerd, my viewpoint on this might be a little biased. Lots of parents want their children there for labor and birth, although I think forcing them to be in the room if they don't want to be is a little extreme. But I know I'm not alone in my feelings on this. Actually, most parents I know think I'm weird because I use words like pee pee and yoni instead of penis and vulva, but hey, I'm not teaching him latin either. It doesn't have to be perfect.

      I think what matters is the attitude you project when it comes to talking about these things. If you talk about genitalia and their functions as if they are dirty, or something that kids shouldn't know, they'll grow up feeling that way about their own genitalia and functions, whether the first terms you use for them are anatomic or cutesy.

      1 agrees

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No-drama comment policy

Part of what makes the Offbeat Empire different is our commitment to civil, constructive commenting. Make sure you're familiar with our no-drama comment policy.