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#1 of 21 Old 07-12-2014, 06:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Young children and home birth

This will be our third child, and we're looking forward to a third home birth. When our second was born, our son was almost two and we lived in a small apartment, so it was a no-brainer to us that he would need to be elsewhere when the baby arrived. We made plans for him to have a sleepover with a close friend if needed. As it turned out, virtually the entire laboring and birth process happened while he was at daycare anyway! Nice and neat.

This time, though, the kids are a fair bit older and our situation is quite different--we live in a larger house, they are cared for almost 100% at home by my husband and me, and they'll be almost-six and almost-four when the baby arrives. And I love the idea of giving them the opportunity, if they want it, to be in the room and witness their sibling's birth. (My husband was way older--thirteen years old--when his brother was born, but having been able to be there is something that he cherishes to this day.)

Having broached this topic just a little with the kids, it seems clear that our three-year-old daughter is SUPER INTO this idea, and our five-year-old son is a bit more cautious about it, but interested.

So then my big question becomes... Okay, who exactly is responsible for the children during labor? I will definitely need my husband for me, and for all the zillions of other things that come up--the birth pool, the location of the coconut milk, you know how that goes in home birth. We don't have family in the area, and as much as I wish it were an option to fly somebody in for a month while we wait for Baby's big entrance, I don't think it's feasible. Nor do we have any super-close friends in the area with the kind of flexibility that would allow them to essentially be on call for us for weeks on end.

So, an idea I've been rolling around in my head: Hire a hybrid doula/babysitter. We'd want somebody who is a) comfortable with and knowledgeable about home birth, and ideally who could step in if needed for labor support, photos, something like that; and b) great with the kids and confident in caring for them being her primary role during labor.

My question to you all is basically: What do you think of this idea? Have you ever heard of an arrangement like this before, and if so, how did it work out in that case? Is this a reasonable expectation to ask a doula to consider? Am I setting us/her up for a logistical nightmare in the case that our older children have completely different desires about attending the birth, and both have equally strong needs for support (eg Son runs screaming and needs to be comforted in a corner, Daughter is fascinated and needs somebody to help corral her curiosity while in the room with laboring mom)?

Other factors that might be germane:
-Both kids are very social and tend to "latch onto" friendly adults right away, so I feel like one or two prep visits should be sufficient to establish a trusting relationship with a new, in-home caretaker.
-We've worked with one doula before, at the birth of our oldest, and she was fantastic and we loved her, but opted against paying for a doula at the second birth because we had noooo money.
-Turns out that was probably smart, since labor and birth for our second child lasted 4.5 hours, start to finish. We have some sense that this birth will probably also go fast.
-We're a bit more stable financially this time around, so while I don't *love* the high end of doula price tags, I can envision us going ahead with the expense for the right person.
-Oh, also our son will be well into his kindergarten year by February, so I suppose we'd have "take him out of school or let him come home to a brand-new baby" to consider, depending on the timing. The first two times, I've woken in the morning in active labor, so it sure would be nice to just get him up and ask him, "So do you want to get on the bus, or play hooky to meet the baby?"

...SO: What do you think of this novel?!

I would also love to hear about your experiences in other situations, if any of you have ever had any of your older children attend a birth.

May I just say, I feel VERY fortunate when asking this question that so many of us in our group have several older kids! Thanks for lending us the benefit of your experience!


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#2 of 21 Old 07-12-2014, 06:51 AM
 
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I have no experience, but here is my plan so far - DS will be a bit over 4, and I think he would be really interested in being there, although we'll see when we get closer to time. We're fortunate enough to have my mother close by, so my plan is for her to be there for DS and be able to either watch over him here or take him to her house if he wants to leave, or if I want him to leave. Then we'll also have a doula for me/DH. If we didn't have my mom around, I would still probably want one person to be in charge of DS in addition to a doula, mostly because I think there's a decent chance that I won't want DS there and I'd want that person to be able to take him out of the house if necessary.


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#3 of 21 Old 07-12-2014, 07:14 AM
 
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I think a doula/babysitter is a good idea. Having a support person lined up for the kids is very important, just in case.

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#4 of 21 Old 07-12-2014, 07:16 AM
 
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My children all normally come for the pushing part. DH just goes and wakes them up, I normally labour at night (serious labour around 2 am), babies are born around 6-10 am usually.
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#5 of 21 Old 07-12-2014, 07:59 AM - Thread Starter
 
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@JenniferC , how do your littler ones do when watching pushing? Do you do anything special to help them prepare for what it's going to be like? You mentioned DH getting them up--is he the primary person taking care of them at that point?
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#6 of 21 Old 07-12-2014, 08:18 AM
 
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Doulas are expensive because the service they provide is so special. Babysitters are not. I think in that situation I would definitely want a babysitter whose sole role is to look after the kids. Where I am that would be so cheap, like 6$ per hour is normal, plus whatever bonus for bein on call, probably $50 max all in for the babysitter. There's no way I would pay a doula hundreds of dollars to babysit!! If I really wanted a doula I would pay the hundreds of dollars for that service (our second doula was amazing and worth every cent) and id also pony up the $50 (a pretty small additional cost) for dedicated childcare.

Best of luck!
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#7 of 21 Old 07-12-2014, 08:29 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Viola P View Post
Doulas are expensive because the service they provide is so special. Babysitters are not. I think in that situation I would definitely want a babysitter whose sole role is to look after the kids. Where I am that would be so cheap, like 6$ per hour is normal, plus whatever bonus for bein on call, probably $50 max all in for the babysitter. There's no way I would pay a doula hundreds of dollars to babysit!! If I really wanted a doula I would pay the hundreds of dollars for that service (our second doula was amazing and worth every cent) and id also pony up the $50 (a pretty small additional cost) for dedicated childcare.

Best of luck!
Yes, I've definitely thought along these same lines. The concern that I keep coming back to is the on-call angle: Since I have no idea when this could happen, is it reasonable to think that I could really get a good babysitter who will just drop everything at my call, and come over for an unspecified amount of time for $6 an hour? (Plus, $6 an hour in my neighborhood would just get you laughed at, but that's a whole other story. )

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#8 of 21 Old 07-12-2014, 08:45 AM
 
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Yes, I've definitely thought along these same lines. The concern that I keep coming back to is the on-call angle: Since I have no idea when this could happen, is it reasonable to think that I could really get a good babysitter who will just drop everything at my call, and come over for an unspecified amount of time for $6 an hour? (Plus, $6 an hour in my neighborhood would just get you laughed at, but that's a whole other story. )
I think you have to offer an extra bonus to make it attractive. I'd personally offer $50 plus $10 per hour, but that might be more than necessary. For my second birth ds went with the grandparents but he was only 22 months. I'm so happy we had dedicated childcare. You'd have to look around for sure. Our babysitter is a local teen who's super responsible and awsome. Also, schools out so this is a good time of year.
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#9 of 21 Old 07-12-2014, 08:57 AM
 
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You need a babysitter who is familiar with home birth and who can help support your children through the complex emotions it may cause (labor can involve blood and pain and cursing- seeing a parent in labor can be scary for children, especially young children). If there's an emergency and transfer is necessary (knock on wood), the babysitter will have to support the kids through some pretty scary emotions. You also need one who you're comfortable having with you while you labor and who understands what the laboring person is going through. Your average babysitter would not be up for the job. A close relative/friend who's given birth or attended births could be a good pick, but the OP said that this isn't an option.

Frankly, a doula seems perfect if you can afford it. Children often need a support person as much as the person in labor does. And if the kids don't need it, as the OP said, then the doula can be extra support for her.

I believe that doulas and possibly midwives often have to attend births pro bono as part of their training, so the OP could find someone training to be a doula/midwife to be a support person for the kids without being too expensive.
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#10 of 21 Old 07-12-2014, 09:23 AM
 
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Personally I would feel comfortable with my babysitter if she was comfortable with it. I think itd be wise to talk ahead of plan with the kids about if mamma has to go to hospital and make a plan. Personally if I paid the big bucks for a doula id want her to provide labour support for me, not childcare. For my first I had a student doula and she was useless (sorry to sound so harsh) and I felt very used after as all she was interested in was impressing the midwife and taking notes for herself.
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#11 of 21 Old 07-12-2014, 01:49 PM
 
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We can't do a homebirth here in Nebraska as it is illegal for anyone to assist us without losing their license. But we are pretty much in the same boat with the other kids. No family around here and we don't have any close friends since we haven't lived here long. My mother is supposed to come out around the due date and stay for 2 weeks, so I would just have to hope she gets here before I go into labor. I have an aunt, on my step-father's side, who lives about an hour away. I just met her a couple of years ago and we get along good, and she is a doula. But I'm wondering if I should ask for her help for free, since we can't really afford her fee. I know she helps low income families out all the time, but I'm not sure if I want to ask her, especially with her being an hour away. I forsee myself going to the hospital and having it alone and then calling my husband when it's over, but we'll see.

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#12 of 21 Old 07-12-2014, 02:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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You need a babysitter who is familiar with home birth and who can help support your children through the complex emotions it may cause (labor can involve blood and pain and cursing- seeing a parent in labor can be scary for children, especially young children). If there's an emergency and transfer is necessary (knock on wood), the babysitter will have to support the kids through some pretty scary emotions. You also need one who you're comfortable having with you while you labor and who understands what the laboring person is going through. Your average babysitter would not be up for the job. A close relative/friend who's given birth or attended births could be a good pick, but the OP said that this isn't an option.

Frankly, a doula seems perfect if you can afford it. Children often need a support person as much as the person in labor does. And if the kids don't need it, as the OP said, then the doula can be extra support for her.

I believe that doulas and possibly midwives often have to attend births pro bono as part of their training, so the OP could find someone training to be a doula/midwife to be a support person for the kids without being too expensive.
Could not agree more--I am hesitant to ask "your average babysitter" to cope with all the heavy stuff that comes (or could potentially come) with birth. To be quite honest, they say that sometimes doulas' work is as much about supporting the father as the mother; well, I feel that in this case, I'm kind of gonna need a doula to support my kids!

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I think you have to offer an extra bonus to make it attractive. I'd personally offer $50 plus $10 per hour, but that might be more than necessary. For my second birth ds went with the grandparents but he was only 22 months. I'm so happy we had dedicated childcare. You'd have to look around for sure. Our babysitter is a local teen who's super responsible and awsome. Also, schools out so this is a good time of year.
Yes, this sure would be a great time of year--alas, I'm planning far, far ahead for a February birth!

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Personally I would feel comfortable with my babysitter if she was comfortable with it. I think itd be wise to talk ahead of plan with the kids about if mamma has to go to hospital and make a plan. Personally if I paid the big bucks for a doula id want her to provide labour support for me, not childcare. For my first I had a student doula and she was useless (sorry to sound so harsh) and I felt very used after as all she was interested in was impressing the midwife and taking notes for herself.
Ah, yes, I would imagine that would color your experience a lot. I'm sorry she didn't work out well for you.

The doula who worked with us for our first child's birth was also a student (I think ours may even have been the first birth she attended as doula?), and she was the most amazing ever--so I suppose that in some ways it's the luck of the draw. Our midwife at the time actually also ran a doula training program, so we had a really strong recommendation there, which was lucky. We are definitely planning on talking this over with our midwife, and possibly reaching out to other midwives in our area, to see if they have any recommendations/resources in the way of trainees who might be willing to work with us on a pro bono/reduced-rate basis.

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#13 of 21 Old 07-12-2014, 04:01 PM
 
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I didn't ever get to home birth although I wanted to. Even without home birth I wish I'd spent the money on the doula! I think I would go with a babysitter and doula if possible. Honestly the idea of a student doula that would do it on a reduced fee/pro bono basis would be great. I would call some midwives to find out about this. Another thing to check on though if you use a midwife she may have help of her own. The midwife we were working with during ds's pregnancy had a doula/assistant of her own that would attend births if the parents were comfortable with it. We could also have had our own private doula if we wanted. If you have a midwife with an assistant that would be additional labor support for you then hiring someone else to help with the kids would be the only thing needed instead of needing a babysitter and labor support. I would likely try for a doula and a babysitter though. While the sitter had primary care for the kids the doula could help with their exposure to the birth and be support for you. If you did need a transfer then doula would come along and the sitter would already be on hand to take the kids. I do agree about an additional fee for on call for birth. Are there any mothers you know that might be up for the challenge? I'd be more than willing to attend a home birth for a friend to help with her kids sounds amazing!

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#14 of 21 Old 07-12-2014, 04:05 PM
 
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The doula at my second birth was amazing, especially since the mw didn't make it on time so I delivered her myself. The doula was so extra supportive and calm, I will always hold a special place for her in my heart <3
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#15 of 21 Old 07-13-2014, 06:54 PM
 
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I had family to attend my second home birth along with my midwife. I thought I wanted my daughter present, but, at the last moment asked that she (then 3.5) be taken out of the space. She same back as soon as my son was out (also a rocket-like 4.5 hour from first contraction to placenta birth) and helped cut the cord and she had been there throughout my labor.

All that to say, I think all you need for your kids is someone who is mature and sensitive. My cousin then took my daughter out to the park as we settled in with the baby.

This time, I am planning to birth in an alternative birthing room at a hospital. Children are welcome but one adult per child is required, I think precisely bc your children may have different needs in the moment.

Hopefully, you can find an on call babysitter (or two!) for the job.

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#16 of 21 Old 07-14-2014, 01:29 AM
 
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Young children and home birth

My kids have all been at their younger siblings' births, at as young as 25 months. We've had a friend or family member lined up each time, along with others for back-up, in case they couldn't make it.

I have very quick labors, so they have hung out with the person in charge while I labor, and then she's brought them in when I'm pushing. The exception was my third birth, which was in the middle of the night. I knew it was really important to my boys to be there, and as my uterus was suddenly shoving my daughter into the world (precipitous birth, fun stuff), so I yelled, "Geeeet the kiiiiiids!" My 4 y/o was already awake, and my 2 y/o got dragged out of bed.

We've helped the kids prepare for the births with their birth videos, and other birth videos, too. We also read some books about homebirth. Our favorite is "Welcome with Love" (or "Hello, Baby" in Australia). We first read it to my 8.5 y/o son when he was a toddler, and it's still a book he loves (as do my three other kids) Someone just recommended another one to me, but I can't remember what it is right now. I'll have to look it up...


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#17 of 21 Old 07-14-2014, 05:28 AM
 
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Most of my moms prepare the kids that will be there with videos from YouTube. They talk about all the hard work that mommy will have to do and how she is going to make noise like when you push heavy furniture.
I totally recommend having someone there. At one of my recent births, they did not have someone to watch their 2 1/2yo. Mom was really having a hard time concentrating and letting her body do its job with the girl climbing in and out of the pool. The doula tried to help with her, but couldn't do her job as well.
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#18 of 21 Old 07-14-2014, 06:58 AM
 
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@JenniferC , how do your littler ones do when watching pushing? Do you do anything special to help them prepare for what it's going to be like? You mentioned DH getting them up--is he the primary person taking care of them at that point?
They do great . Last time the midwives were amazed, they all lined up quietly and just watched! I am a pretty relaxed birthed (but I always bleed a lot). I groan, no yelling, no swearing. So, before the baby comes I practice groan for them, "Mommy will go like this, "Ooooh, moooooaaaaaah, oaaawwww, and push the baby out! It might be loud. Sometimes I might say owwie, owwie, owwie when the baby's head comes out, but it doesn't hurt for very long. And then whoosh, out comes the baby!" I feel louder than I am though, since most people say I'm not very loud. Yes, DH is officially in charge at that point (I am certainly not!), but they don't need much tending . We have some story books about home birth, look at pictures, we normally pull out some birth videos (not of me, I don't have video recordings) and watch them a few weeks before.

I guess for my children it's just normal. Once my two older girls missed it because they were at the park with their aunties. Once my oldest said she didn't want to come for the pushing so we let her sleep - it is optional attendance . Some of them have woken up early (say around 4 a.m. and the baby was born at 8 or 10) and been with us the whole time. My second labour, my oldest (then 3) was in and out of the tub/breastfeeding with me during active labour! (No more, only me in the tub for every labour since then! I also normally wean when I'm 6 months pregnant now.) Sometimes we let the toddler sleep the whole time (around/under 2).

So, it hasn't always been exactly the same, but I consider it part of life in our family, and an exciting part of life at that !
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#19 of 21 Old 07-14-2014, 11:53 AM
 
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@JenniferC , I LOVE your description! I love the idea of birth being a family experience! Mine are welcome to attend and I was disappointed last time when they both (5 and 2.5 at the time) declined and said they would rather go to Grandma and Grandpa's for a sleep over, which was their other option. Since that is their favorite thing to do still, I am thinking that this time, I will have Gma over during the birth so the kids have the option of coming in or out during. And then, if they want, they can sleep over AFTER the birth! lol. I would enjoy one night of not being awaken several times by 3 young children + a newborn.

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#20 of 21 Old 07-14-2014, 02:28 PM
 
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This is so up my alley right now!
If it were up to me I'd have the perfect babysitter who knew all about homebirth, and adored kids, AND would be reliably on call 24/7!

I told my husband the other day, I wanted a doula, babysitter, house cleaner, and post-partum chef for two months
I can dream!

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#21 of 21 Old 07-24-2014, 07:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I've officially started The Big Doula Hunt. Lucky for me, the first person I contacted is super-knowledgeable about options and resources in the area, and even though we determined fairly quickly that she may not be a great match for our family, we stayed on the line and talked for a long time about what to look for and what to expect. That was wonderful!

However, galvanized with this information, I've contacted several doulas who might be a good match, and they aren't writing BACK and I have ants in my pants! C'mon, doulas, help an impatient mother out and answer me immediately. That's totally reasonable, right?!

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