My two daughters 8 and 7 are going to be in the delivery room with me. We are planning a natural (possibly water) birth. I think they are adequately prepared as far as what to expect...mom in pain, mom crying, blood, goo, and so on. But I was hoping to give them a sense of involvement as well as just being present. Any ideas on "jobs" that I could give them.
My two girls will be in the delivery room with me!
I'm actually not planning on having someone there specifically for them. I will have my husband and a doula and the doula is prepared to assist them if needed. But they are 7 and 8 and both extremely self proficient. They are the oldest of 4 almost 5 :) I plan to bring them things to keep them occupied and to eat. They are both very excited to see their baby sister being born, so I don't think they'll want to go home and if they do then they'll just have to deal with it, the day is clearly not about them! (mean momma?) I have been mentioning some of the jobs mentioned here and they seem pretty excited about them. Thanks for the suggestions!
I would also recommend having someone there for them. Your dh and doula will be, and should be, focused on you. I had a homebirth last time and while I was happy to have my kids in the room if they chose, and I really thought they'd stay, but when pushing time came, they all chose to leave. You have to be prepared for that possible outcome and your dh and your doula, I assume, won't want to take them in the hallway.
My kids were, 10, 9, and 5 when their sister was born.
I'm comfortable with my decision to have them there, and they are too. I really just wanted some ideas on letting them feel more involved. Thanks for the ideas and concerns!
I am truly not trying to be a jerk but I think you sort of ignoring what is being said. If you end up needing a c/s, what happens to the girls? Do they wait in the bathroom for that? So, if you 100% know your dh or your doula will be their care-giver, then go ahead. Otherwise, they need their own supervision. If you wouldn't leave them home alone, they need a caregiver. You aren't able to care for them in that scenario and everyone else but your dh has a specific job to do during your birth.
It very well may be that everything goes exactly as you envision it in your head, but I really think it's irresponsible to not have a caregiver for them.
Not to beat the subject to death...but I also would strongly encourage you to find someone to be solely responsible for the girls. I've participated in many hospital deliveries with siblings present. I usually love having them there. It's often a great family bonding experience.
However, kids don't always do well in the hospital environment where you're all stuck in the same room/hallway/unit for many hours. They get bored. They are often interested in the "action" part right when the baby is born, but prior to that time there isn't much for the kids to see or do. Even with preparation and prior discussion about noises, the sounds of labor and appearance of mom in pain can be too much for some kids. If an emergency happens, the kids need a dedicated person (not the doula or your husband) to explain things and take them home (or watch them in another area of the hospital). There should be someone who's only responsibility is to take care of the girls. If there is not someone to do that, I personally would not bring them along. Children who are 7 and 8 years old are not old enough to be responsible for their own well-being during a hospital birth.
Like I said, I've seen a lot of hospital deliveries with siblings present. Many have gone well and have been happy family moments. Some have not. In one case, the husband missed his child's delivery because he was in the hall with their traumatized older child. In another, a child who was literally pleading to go home was forced to stay and watch the delivery because no one would leave to take her out and the nursing staff were busy with the delivery.
Labor is about you. It totally should be. That's why your girls need someone who can look out for them at that moment.
Also, think twice about having anyone in the delivery room who lacks the maturity to understand that s/he shouldn't take anything you say in labor at all personally.
I concur that you really need someone on hand to help out your girls, if they come to the birth. They may be incredibly self-sufficient kids under normal circumstances, but birth in general, and hospital birth in particular, is not a normal circumstance. It is not at all reasonable to have no backup plan for a child who is exhausted or freaked out besides "you can hang out in the bathroom". The hospitals I gave birth at were very willing to have siblings present at births, but insisted that each child have a dedicated support person. They would not have been okay with a 7 or 8 year old hanging out in the waiting room by herself. And they cut WAY back on the number of permitted visitors during the H1N1 flu (hospitals local to me are cutting back again because this year's flu is very bad here), so you need to be prepared in case the hospital policies regarding child visitors change.
You have no way of knowing how this labor will go, or how long it will take. If you can't come up with people to help take care of your daughters at the hospital, you should plan for them to be cared for with their other siblings at home.
I think it is wonderful that you are going to include your children in the birth. It is such a wonderful family experience. My parents choice to include me started me on the path to becoming a midwife. I attended the home birth of my brother at age 3 and my sister (along with my younger brother) at age 7. I don't remember having any responsibilities, just being there and being free to come and go, and be close to mom if I wanted to. I would recommend that you give optional jobs... eg if you want to help you can do this, this, or this, and then see in the moment if it is something they actually want to do or if they just want to watch. I also think it's a good idea to have activities, like colouring, books, maybe even a portable DVD player with some headphones. Depending how fast your labours go, for a little one it might get boring at times, and the significance of it all can be lost on children. Something I have heard of is offering each child the opportunity to make or buy a small "birthday" gift for the baby which can make the birth seem like a celebration to them.
As far as "jobs" go: you could give a little birth coach lesson and tell them to remind mommy to breath, and that she is strong, and give hugs and kisses (if you're the kind of person who likes lots of touching in labour), reminding mommy to drink water and juice, and keeping the cup full, keeping your hair back from your face. Also less material things like just talking about paying attention to how everyone else is feeling and acting and trying be part of it, when to be quiet and when to be excited, and when think about opening up and moving the baby down. If you are going to have music playing then another job could be in charge of that.
Your are giving your daughters a beautiful gift by showing them that birth is normal and nothing to be afraid of, and that their bodies are capable of amazing feats. By the time I gave birth my self, I had seen my mother do it 4 times and just knew I could do it and had no fear.
I actually wrote my major paper for my degree on this subject. I would love to hear about your experience after if you are so inclined to share!
P.S. When I was little, we had no designated support person and we were just fine. Just our parents and the midwives. Chance are that that your birth will go normally, and you have your doula-friend if it doesn't. Sounds like a good plan to me : )
This is my 5th child and I didn't enter into this decision lightly. If I felt that my children (who I believe I know best) were not emotionally or physically capable of handling the experience then I would not include them. I specifically said that my doula (who is also a close friend) is 100% prepared to comfort or take care of the girls if the need arises. I'm a big girl and have given birth before without a doula so I'm sure I can manage without her if she is needed elsewhere.
Thank you to those who have given support and answered my questions