By Olivia Hinebaugh I knew when I found out I was pregnant for the second time that I wanted my son to be included in as much of the pregnancy and birth as possible. I grew up knowing all about pregnancy and birth thanks to my mother’s career as a childbirth educator. I think it really helped me in how I viewed birth and pregnancy as a natural, healthy period in a woman’s life. I want my children to view birth similarly, and I wanted my son to be with me throughout the process. This is not for everyone, but if you want to include your child in the birth of their sibling, here are some ways you can help him prepare.
Bring him to your appointments
My son was there for every appointment. He got to know the midwives. He got the first turn with the doppler, generally resulting in my belly button being full of the gel. He would sit on the exam table with me and put his hands over the midwives’ as they felt the baby. We told him from the beginning that one of the midwives would be helping his little sister be delivered.
Read books about pregnancy and birth
Find a book that goes into as much detail as you want. And find the terminology you are going to use for everything. We read a book that had beautiful illustrations of a baby’s life inside the womb. He was fascinated with the idea of the umbilical cord and was in awe with the fact that he had lived there once. This naturally led to a lot of great discussions where he could ask questions. He loved talking about it.
Talk about labor in terms of the hard work you’ll be doing
I talked about what I’d be like in labor. I told him some noises I might make. I told him I’d have to breathe hard just like when he’s running around outside, because I was going to be working hard. I told him I might have to close my eyes or squeeze his dad’s hand.
Show birth videos
Youtube is full of wonderful birth videos. I was able to find many where siblings were in attendance, and many at home. Some showed labor and the sounds some women make, some showed the birth close up. He got very excited at spotting the baby’s head. It was another place for us to use the terminology. “There’s the baby’s head coming out the birth canal.” “There’s the cord.” “Look how happy the mom is.” “Look how hard she’s working to push the baby out.”
Come up with things he can for you do during labor
My son gave me sips of water. He gently rubbed my forehead and my back. He handed me mints. He kissed me. He also nursed in early labor to get things moving along. It was beautiful and I will never forget how sweet he was.
Talk about what the baby will be like
It was really important to me that my son realized that his sister would nurse all the time, because he was still nursing. While you’re having these great conversations about labor and birth, use the time to talk to him about the things that will change when the baby is here.
Have a support person for your child
Most practices will require a separate support person for you and your children. This should be someone you also want at your birth, someone who will be tuned in to you enough to ask if you want the child present for any given moment. When I was feeling nauseous during labor and didn’t want my son there, he baked cupcakes with my dad. It’s good to have a backup plan in case you don’t want the child there after all. Buy a new movie that they’ll get to watch, plan an art project, or bake birthday treats like my son did. Having my son at the birth of his sister was amazing. They bonded right from the get-go and for me it felt right to have my entire family there to greet the newest member. I was surprised at how accepting he was of the process and how he adopted my attitude that it was a time for hard work, celebration, and wonder.
About Olivia Hinebaugh
Olivia Hinebaugh is a stay-at-home-mom to a three-year-old boy and baby girl. She is an aspiring novelist and steals time whenever both kids are sleeping to clack away at the keys. She tweets about mothering and writing @OliveJuiceLots
She can also be found on Facebook.