Helping Your Children Enjoy Attending Your Birth
“How can I support and include my 7-year-old who is waffling on being a part of the birth of our second child? He seems to go back and forth on the idea of being at the birthing center, being in the room during delivery, and last time wasn’t sure if maybe he wanted to be in the birthing tub with us!”
Delivery and Birthing Atmosphere
Many parents prefer birth to be a family affair, yet some mothers need a more private atmosphere for birth. This concept is certainly worth considering, especially if you are open to having your birth be a “family affair”. When our fourth baby was born (our first home birth), the older ones were still asleep. They didn’t wake up until after she was born. We have a wonderful picture hanging on our wall showing the “wow!” looks on their faces as they greeted their new sister. One of our favorite family memories is when our four older children were present at the home birth of our fifth baby. They still enjoy the video replay of this unique memory.
How to Prepare for Delivery
Our children’s book, Baby on the Way, is a fun guide for helping young children anticipate “their” baby’s birth and to know what will happen after Baby is born. However, it doesn’t present the scenario of the kids being in the birth room. That conversation can be had next, once your child shows interest. Children will naturally be ambivalent and may not actually decide until the drama is unfolding. In our experience, some children over the age of three can handle the drama of labor and respect the dignity of birth. Each child needs to have his or her own designated caregiver. The caregiver’s sole purpose is to accompany and support the child whether he decides to stay in the room or not. Of course, his being in the tub would not be appropriate.
Rehearse Your Birth
In age-appropriate terms, your child can understand, tell him what he is likely to see. Such as: “Mommy will get very red in the face and make loud and funny noises (while not totally realistic, demonstrate as well as you can), but that’s okay because I’ll be working hard to push out your new brother or sister into the world.” Be sure your child knows he has the option of being as present and attentive as he wants. Explain to him how he can leave whenever he wants and not to worry about you or about “missing” the birth. The bonding that takes place when a sibling is included in the birth of the baby can start their relationship off well.
Have a back-up plan.
Clearly communicate to your caregiver ahead of time. If your children’s antics are disturbing your birth peace, it’s time to temporarily escort them out. In our experience, many children seem to handle the theatrics of birth very well. If they find themselves overwhelmed, they can just read a book or play with a toy. Just be sure they will have the full attention of their caregiver.
Written By: Martha Sears, RN
Martha is the mother of Dr. Bill’s eight children, a registered nurse, a former childbirth educator, a La Leche League leader, and a lactation consultant. Martha is the co-author of 25 parenting books and is a popular lecturer and media guest drawing on her 18 years of breastfeeding experience with her eight children (including Stephen with Down Syndrome and Lauren, her adopted daughter). Martha speaks frequently at national parenting conferences and is noted for her advice on how to handle the most common problems facing today’s mothers with their changing lifestyles. Martha is able to connect with both full-time, stay-at-home mothers and working mothers because she herself has experienced both styles of parenting. Martha takes great pride in referring to herself as a “professional mother” and one of her favorite quips when someone voices their concern about her having eight children in an already populated world is: “The world needs my children.”