anyone have experience with toddler attending birth? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 03-12-2012, 04:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Just a little background- we have a 2-year-old daughter and are planning a home birth.  I also birthed my DD at home.


I started this pregnancy with an "absolutely-no-way-will-my-daughter-be-present" attitude and now that we are getting closer to the due date, but my DH and I are starting to see things differently.


My initial concerns were: a) would it traumatize my child to see mama so "out of it" in labor, vocalizing during labor, throwing up, possibly swearing-crying-etc and b) would I feel comfortable enough to "let go" around my DD and labor how I need.


However, the more we think about it, the more we are leaning towards her being there if we can manage it.  Ideally we'd like someone to be her doula, take care of her needs and take her out of the room/house if she needs a break or we need her to go, but we are working on that.  If we can't find someone, it may be my DH watching out for her AND me, which isn't ideal, with the back-ups of someone taking her out of the home (we have friends and grandmas that are more than willing to take her, but there aren't many who we'd feel comfortable watching her in the home while we labor).  


Anyway, it's been a very interesting process making this decision- despite my "labor is perfectly wonderful and natural" attitude that I THOUGHT I had, I am discovering a lot of deep-seeded "labor is scary" feelings and beliefs.  It's been a very good thing for me to challenge these.


I was wondering- do any of you wonderful mamas have experience with your 2-year-old "ish" children attending your births?  If so, how did it go?  Would you do anything differently?  What worked/didn't?  What did you do to prepare your child?


Thank you for your help, I love mothering forums!!



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#2 of 13 Old 03-12-2012, 04:51 PM
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im sorry to say i dont have any answers BUT i am doing the same. my son will be 3 at the exact time i'm due. he is so excited about "his" baby and preparing for her. i plan a water birth and i think the hardest thing will be convincing mom to have some alone time in the pool :)

 i too thought no way, he has to leave. but during my doula training i saw a number of birth films with siblings present and thought wow thats so beautiful. the toddlers just kind of wonder in and out and are at peace with it. he'll understand i'm in pain but hes so compassionate i think with someone there to reassure him he'll do great. he can stay or go, whatever he feels like.

 the one thing i've done is show him videos of natural home births and he loves them. he gets that they are in pain but is so excited to see the baby come out. he says "more more baby videos". i hope its a bond they'll share for life.


good luck!

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#3 of 13 Old 03-24-2012, 01:39 PM
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yes and no........

When I had my second at a birthing center, dh and her (2 at the time) where watching at the door....I kept telling the nurses to shut the door because I wasn't comfortable with her or my husband watching me like that.
But I don't think it affected her at all. But of course she only saw a small part of the actual birth (my son was born 5 min after arriving at birthing center)...but she did see the hrs of labor prior. I don't think she even really questioned anything....but I am not a big verbal outside of the grimace on my face, she probably couldn't tell.

With my third...he was a home birth and although the kids were not right there through it all....they were home and wondered around where ever they wanted. But I had him in the bathtub so it really wasn't like they were in there much. Plus I don't like people with dh and my mom could tend to my kids and also help me if I needed anything.

With my fourth we did a kiddie pool out in the open. Again kids were running around the house...but not really right there watching it all.

I don't know that it tramatized them or anything although it did surprise me that YEARS later my oldest son

(who was 4 at the time of the birth) talked to me about remembering the blood in the pool. This was probably at least 2 years after the birth and we hadn't really talked about it or apparently that was enough to stick with him. But he didn't seemed bothered by it.....he seemed almost empowered that he knew about it....kind of like he was part of a secret club or something. It was very strange. But honestly, when they r that young, I don't think they even realize what is going on.  I wouldn't have them in the pool with u tho.

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#4 of 13 Old 04-10-2012, 07:18 PM
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I think it depends on the child.  We are having a homebirth for baby #4 and our other children will be present...they are 5, 3, and 2.  I am excited for them, but if they need a break they can always go upstairs and play and if I need a break from them, I will send them upstairs to play..haha.  DH will be there to make them meals and what not.  I am kind of a hand off gal when in labor.  Anyone touching me/talking to me, etc I find irritating so I don't 'need' him there for me.  I actually think my 2 yo (girl) is going to take it the best.  They 5 yo (girl) will probably be a little grossed out, she is so dramatic.  And my son 3 yo, will probably care less and go play away from all the drama. 


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#5 of 13 Old 04-15-2012, 01:28 PM
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My son was just at his sister's birth 11 days ago. He is 26 months and did awesome! When labor began, he and I were home alone. As it intensified (very quickly! My labor was 3 hours from first twinge to baby out), he was my little doula: he brought me water and a pillow, rubbed my back, and generally was pretty great. When my midwife, the doulas, and husband arrived, he retreated a bit with his doula (my sister), but he stayed close. After the birth, he hung out with my husband watching things. He seemed to get what was going on- and has accepted his sister into the family with no problem.

I was worried that he would get scared or be bothersome to me while I was contracting, but he really wasn't. I am glad he was there because it seemed to help him understand that our family was expanding.

Mama to 1 home-birthed boy (2/2010) and another baby on the way (spring 2012).
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#6 of 13 Old 04-15-2012, 03:25 PM
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My then 2 1/2 year old attending his brother's birth about six months ago. I went into it with a flexible attitude. I had a friend lined up to come over to be his care giver while I was in labor. The plan was to see how it goes. If he needed to leave or if I wanted him to leave she would have taken him away. As it turned out, I labored during the night and he woke up about 20 minutes before his brother was born. My friend played with him in his room, and we brought my son in right after the midwife broke my water at the very very end of transition. (I was stalled, and she thought, correctly, if she broke my water, the baby would be born right away.) He did witness the end of the last transition contraction, probably the most intense point of labor. After that contraction ended, I heard him sort of whimpering, and looked to see him in his Dad's arms. I was somehow able to pull it together in that moment and reassure him that I was okay, the baby was about to be born, remember it's just like we talked about, I made some weird noises...blah blah blah. He seemed to buy it, and was okay. Then the next contraction was pushing, and his brother was born in two pushes. He had been in the room probably less than two minutes, and was at that point, fine.  It had a nice sense of this baby is joining our family. I was struck immediately at how different it is to have two, how right away, I was concerned about both of them.  Very different from when your first is born and that baby in that moment is your total universe. Anyway, my older son stayed in the room for a little while, then went to watch sesame street - rare treat. I really lucked out because the timing was so perfect, but I'm so glad he was there. Also he was special relationship now with our friend he was with. I recommend having one person present solely responsible for the older sibling. It was a great relief to have her. Also, what if you have to transfer to the hospital? It's not that rare.

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#7 of 13 Old 08-25-2012, 04:28 AM
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(new here just jumping in!) I think it depends on the child too.. My daughter(22 mo at the time) was there with me the whole time for my son's birth's it was a pretty mellow 12 hr home birth, I had a good support system with the midwives and my chiro was there too. before hand we did watch other birth videos and I have a video of her birth.. I think she did well, she even named him his nose was swollen from being in the birth canal for so long, she he came out she would not stop pointing at his nose and saying "Noahhh" =) 

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#8 of 13 Old 08-27-2012, 08:45 PM
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I was present at the births of my siblings when I was 2, 4, and 7 years old. Two at home, one at the hospital. 28 years later and I'm a midwife :)

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At home amongst the redwoods  with my husband and my son, born 7/5/11, and #2 due in October 2015   Instant CNM, just add  !
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#9 of 13 Old 08-27-2012, 09:51 PM
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I home birthed DD in the bathroom of our rather tiny studio apartment while DS (2 at the time) slept in the family bed. Normally, DS is a HORRIBLE sleeper but this morning he was a champ and slept through me laboring, my husband rushing around, the midwife coming in, and, finally, the midwife checking me out and stitching me up (only 3 sutures this time!!!! wahoo!!!) just a few feet from him. When he came to he thought the midwife was there to play with him! He kept trying to show her his trains and attempting to play with the flashlight she used to keep a light on things.


We didn't have a choice as to whether or not DS would be present (studio home birth, no family I wanted to involve in the process in any minute way), but he's an easy going kid. We worried how he'd react to seeing me agitated/screaming/pushing/crying/pleading for the pain to stop because he has a way of .... absorbing other's emotions, I guess, but we knew he'd be okay when he thought my HG-related vomiting and laying on the bathroom floor (also crying and pleading for it stop) was. frigging. hilarious. My boy, apparently, thinks Mommy acting weird and puking and screaming and moving every which way to be the funniest thing imaginable, maybe your girl will too. 

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#10 of 13 Old 08-27-2012, 10:18 PM
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My son was nearly 2 when our second son was born. I had a homebirth and he was there. My parents watched him for a few hours in the afternoon and then my husband called and had them bring him home when I was in transition. That was the hard part for me because I don't like getting distracted during that part of labor. If I were to do it again I'm not sure I would have had him leave or I would have had him come home a little earlier. I had a lot of worries about my son being there, but he did great! The birth was fairly easy and I'm not very vocal and I've never gotten sick or anything in labor, so he didn't experience those things. He is very close to his little brother. There weren't any adjustment issues or anything. I think this was because he was there and saw that little brother was born to us. We didn't just all of a sudden show up with a baby after leaving him for a day or two. He also has never asked where babies come from smile.gif 

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#11 of 13 Old 08-27-2012, 11:02 PM
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You should definitely consider how YOU will be able to labor with your dd there.  For me, I really wanted my dd (4 at the time) to be there but when it came right down to it, the moment she woke up I felt like I could feel my cervix close back up.  Something inside me felt the need to go into "mom mode" and "be there" for my dd.  Thank goodness my mom was there to come take her outside to play!  Fortunately for us, my dh kept my mom's cell phone on speed dial and we called them back in for the last few pushes (once I was too far gone to care--in fact by that point, calling my dd in I was like "well I *really* have to push hard now--baby has to be born NOW").  My dd was able to watch dd2 come out.  Perfect in my opinion for our family.  My dd's take on it afterwards was that she didn't like the moaning parts (my mom told her I was singing the baby out, but she was not buying it), but that she's glad she was there for the end.

Mama to Nell (11/15/06) and Maggie (10/9/10) . AFTER 2.5 YEARS, I AM AN AUNTIE!!! joy.gifHOORAY TEAR78 and welcome Anika and Brand New Baby Boy!!!!  Circumcision: the more you know, the worse it is; please leave the decision up to your son!

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#12 of 13 Old 08-27-2012, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Christine08 View PostHe also has never asked where babies come from smile.gif 

Hah!  I asked my dd after her sister was born "Were you surprised that the baby really came right out of my vagina?  Did you think I was joking about that?"  And she said (with a shy smile) "Yeah!"

Mama to Nell (11/15/06) and Maggie (10/9/10) . AFTER 2.5 YEARS, I AM AN AUNTIE!!! joy.gifHOORAY TEAR78 and welcome Anika and Brand New Baby Boy!!!!  Circumcision: the more you know, the worse it is; please leave the decision up to your son!

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#13 of 13 Old 09-03-2012, 08:52 AM
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I think maybe two might be too young to be able to explain what is happening. It may also be hard for you as a mother. You might find you naturally want to protect her from seeing you in pain and any other things it might be difficult to rationalise. A two year old may feel insecure about what is going on and seeing you in pain might make them want to cling to you seeking reassurance making it hard for you to focus on you. It would work maybe if you had a person there not involved in the birth who could look after your daughters needs and then bring her in at times that would promote a happy experience for her. If you read lots of books and played children friendly videos before hand it might help prepare her for a new arrival.


I had both my children at home and it was fantastic. I say that now 22 years later lol. My daughter was 16 months when my son was born and she went with my mother in law for the day but came back straight after. My son was asleep and she went in and saw him then we carried on with the night focused on her and gradually introduced him the next day (the one downfall of home births you don't get a rest). She loved him so much. The look on her face when he would suck her finger. I have a picture of her breast feeding her doll, aah happy times.

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