Natural Parenting Toolbox: Preparing Siblings for Childbirth

 

There are many things you can do to prepare your children for both pregnancy and for the birth itself:

  • Share children’s books and videos about childbirth and becoming a big sister or brother.
  • If you have been struggling with fatigue or nausea, reassure your child that you are okay and that this is temporary. Explain that you may not be able to give him as much time and attention as you would like to because you aren’t feeling well. Make sure that he gets attention at other times, or from someone else.
  • For a homebirth, explain what room you will be in and which friends and family will be there. If the birth will not take place at home, take your child on a tour of the facility you will use. Show your child what is all right to touch and what is not. Have your child meet your care provider at least once.
  • Check to see if your childbirth educator, midwife, or birthing facility gives a sibling class to prepare for birth.
  • Identify a close adult friend or relative who will be your child’s support person during labor and birth. This person must be able to be there for the entire birth and be dedicated only to the care of your child, which might include meal preparation, trips to the playground, and diaper changing. This person should practice answering questions ahead of time in simple language like, “Mommy is making those sounds because it helps her to push the baby out.” She or he must also be willing to leave the birth if your child wants to leave. This should be someone your child is very comfortable with, someone who would not frighten her if she were the one to wake your child up. If you have more than one older child, consider providing each one with their own support person.
  • Role play with your children. Rehearse some of the sounds you may make during labor with them. Try describing events in terms of things they might understand. For example, you can describe the opening of the cervix as like a flower slowly unfolding from a bud.
  • Ask your child to help you, both before and during labor, by washing sheets for the homebirth, helping you pick out or make massage oil for the birth, helping you to pack, bringing you a drink of water, or putting a damp cloth on your forehead. Let them practice these steps as well.
  • Encourage them to express their feelings about the birth process artistically, in drawings or paintings.
  • A child over four might like to create their own birth plan. You can help them to plan this and write it down. They might include things like: “I want to take a picture of the baby,” or “I want to rub Mommy’s back when she is waiting for the baby to come out.” Your child could illustrate the list, if she likes, or decorate it.
  • Tell your child the story of their birth. Children usually love to hear about their entrance into the world, and this is a way to give them extra attention while reassuring them that birth is safe and natural.