Figure Out If Your Kids Should Attend The Birth
Know your kid
Kimberly McGuinness-Rook, CPM, LM says, "Typically kids tend to do really well at births. If you decide that you will be having your child at the birth it is important to prepare them -- no matter their age -for what the experience of an unmedicated delivery at home looks like and sounds like."
"As you embark of this decision take your own feelings and needs into consideration as well. How do you envision having your child present will impact your labor?"
Read more about siblings at your new baby's birth>>
Stacey Pouliot-Alexander felt comfortable not having her toddler son home during labor. She explains, "My two-year-old stayed home while I labored up until I was 8 centimeters or so and then he went to preschool. Everything started to get a bit more serious once I hit transition and I needed to focus on pushing. I am very vocal when it comes to pushing and I always reach this point where I am crying and convinced that I can’t go on, for that I just needed to have all the energy in the room focused on me -- getting over that hump is like climbing a mountain! He came back right after the birth and snuggled up in bed with his new brother and I, our time apart was very minimal --5 hours --and that was important to me. I didn’t want him to feel like we disappeared for two days, only to come back with a new baby, I felt that would be traumatic. If we have any more children, I would plan to for siblings to be present the entire time, but arrange a support person/doula specifically for them."
Prepare siblings for labor
McGuinness-Rook encourages parents to practice the sounds of labor with their kids. "You may feel silly doing it yourself at first but remember that it's helpful for your child to hear your voice making these loud, deep primal noises before the onset of actual labor," she says. She also recommends viewing home birth videos with your older kids. I agree -- a favorite of both of us is Birth Day, a film where midwife Naoli Vinaver gives birth to her daughter at home in a tub with her older sons present.
Have a "sibling doula" at the birth
In addition to the birth doulas I had over to help me and my husband, I also had my close friend Jenna there to "doula" my 3 1/2 year old son. I labored in the wee hours of the morning while he slept, but he woke up during the most intense, painful part before the baby was born. I didn't have to worry because he and Jenna read books and watched a movie until his brother was born. He joined us immediately after, and had the honor of cutting his baby brother's umbilical cord -- with the midwife's help of course!