Hi everyone, just wondering if I could get some input.
We have our 2nd HB coming in August and have always wanted DD who will be almost 4 there (she wants to be as well). At my most recent appt with my midwife, she recommended having someone else who was specifically there for DD's needs, in case she gets scared, etc. Her opinion was that many times it can be more difficult for mom to focus on her body in part because she is still in "mommy-mode". So she thinks maybe having DD come only for the actual birth would be better. The thing is, my first birth was fairly quick and I really don't want her to miss it. Also, the person who would most likely be there for DD is my MIL whom I adore but I really don't want at our baby's actual birth and I'm not entirely sure that at the moment of, she would respect that. I wasn't very worried about having DD there in the first place but what are your experiences with having children there during your labor/birth?
Also, we have been watching a few births on youtube here and there to get her somewhat familiar with what's going to happen.
I don't have experience with this as I'm pregnant with our 2nd, but we plan on having DD there and she'll be 3 when the baby is born. We want MIL to be the person in charge of her, but MIL isn't too keen on the homebirth thing and also thinks that having DD there for the birth is a bad idea, "too traumatic". What I would do in your situation(and what we'll do if we can't get MIL on board) would either be to try to find another relative or hire someone like a doula or baby-sitter to watch her. I'm considering asking my sister to come out from Las Vegas for the birth if MIL is still resisting in a few months.
Wife to DH 08/09 and SAHM to DD 09/08 and DS 11/11
Surprise! Expecting #3 Nov. 2013!
I found having a caregiver for my child(ren) during labor was freeing for me. I wanted my children to be able to choose how much exposure they were interested in and have their needs attended to while I focused on labor. In my case, I had to make my boundaries very clear with all those attending my home births. During my first birth, there was too much free movement in and out of the birthing room to the point that I had to "kick out" everyone except MW and DP after transition in order to make it to the pushing stage.
My oldest dd was 22 months old when she was present for the birth of her little sister. Labor started while she was sleeping, so DP carried her in with her grandparents who were there to help. In a couple of hours, she woke up and was quite interested in doing her part. She saw her father holding my hand during a contraction and she decided to give it a try:
Both my 5yo dd and my3.5 yo dd were present at my second homebirth. I made it clear to ALL parties involved that while MIL and FIL were at our home to help with the kiddos, my bedroom door would remain closed to them until they were invited inside. Our daughters were free to come in at any time, and they both decided to come in for India's birth, and enjoyed being involved. 5yo dd, however, was not impressed with the meconium. LOL! I especially loved being able to all snuggle together as a family immediately afterward:
I plan on having my daughter(who will be 2) and my son(who is almost 5) there, and my partner will be tending to their needs while I labor. Hopefully I go into labor at night so that they will just be waking up when I am ready to push. lol I really only do well when I have someone with me. A loving presence relaxes me.
I would definitely recommend having someone there specifically for your daughter--if you don't have a friend or family member you're comfortable with, then hire someone.
1. For your daughter's needs: She might need a snack or help in the bathroom and you might be in transition. There should be someone there to help her, and it shouldn't (have to) be your or your partner. Or she might become frightened when she hears you making a lot of noise, or sees what looks like a lot of blood. She should have the option of leaving (at least the room) if the situation becomes stressful for her, and she shouldn't have to go be alone in that case. Also, she might not know that she needs to leave if she becomes scared--she may need a caring adult to notice that she is scared and suggest that they go play upstairs for a little bit, or whatever.
2. For yourself: It's hard work having a baby, and it's hard work tending to your child's needs. You shouldn't be expected to do both at once, and since you can't delegate the former, you should have someone to entirely relieve you of any responsibility surrounding your older child. As an apprentice midwife, I've seen several situations where a woman has mild or inconsistent contractions all day, that just aren't "going anywhere," and then she puts the kids to bed (or they go to Grandma's, or whatever) and her labor picks right up, progresses and she has a baby. It is mentally and emotionally taxing to worry about your child, as your will naturally do if she becomes scared, or ill, or upset because no one is getting her a glass of water, or *whatever.* Let yourself entirely off the hook by finding someone you can entrust her with, and then focus on having your baby.
3. It is possible that you will need to transfer to a hospital, perhaps emergently, perhaps not. Let's say you transfer for pain relief--it's not a good time for your partner to have to worry about getting your daughter's shoes on, and getting her in her carseat, and whatever-else needs to happen with her, while also trying to support you in what has become an overwhelming situation (enough to warrant the transfer) and prepare things like the baby's car seat and your hospital bag. Your partner should be allowed to focus entirely on you at this moment--and you shouldn't have to deal with your daughter at the hospital if you don't want to. Leave it to someone else to care for her in that moment, and let your partner focus on you and the baby. And although it is unlikely, you could have a more emergent transport, for a hemorrhage or a baby who is in trouble. In that case, it may be dangerous to you or the baby to be held up by dealing with your daughter. You and your partner should be able to simple load up and leave, without having to worry about her in that moment. (I don't mean to sound alarmist here--I've worked with the same midwife for 3.5 years, with very few transports, and none of them particularly emergent--but when that need does arise, there is enough stress without having to deal with an older sibling in that moment. I was at one birth where a mother had to be transported by ambulance postpartum, and her husband, who would have really liked to have ridden in the ambulance with his wife, had to wait at home until he could get a hold of someone to come be with their older child, and then wait for her to drive to their home. In the end, everyone was fine--but it was really stressful for him to be separated from his wife at that time, and I imagine it made the situation extra stressful for her, as well.)
Good luck! I think having your other child(ren) at a birth can be a really wonderful experience for everyone--and by being fully prepared, you significantly increase the likelihood that it will be so!
My five year old son was present during my very short labor and birth. We faced the same decision you did, with the same advice, and ended up deciding to just have someone "on call" for our son. My gut said that everything was going to be fine, and I really didn't want any other people there, so I decided to go with my gut and just have a backup if my gut was wrong.
Our son did great -- he got a little overwhelmed by the noise at one point, but he loved to watch as long as he could have his fingers in his ears and have a little space from me. He saw his brother come out, and thought that was really "neat". He remembers the first moments after the birth, everything we did and said, almost better than us. And he remembers some parts of the birth that I don't. He loves being a part of telling our birth story.
If my labor had been longer, he might have gotten bored or needed more resources, but for a short labor he was very engaged the whole time. I was able to check in with him in the beginning, but once I was closer to birth I was not very aware of him, and he was interested enough in the process that he didn't have other needs except to watch.
HTH! Remember you know your family best.
Mama to two sweet boys, a 7yo and a toddler .
The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. - Albert Einstein
It took some hardcore networking before I finally lucked out and found a responsible 13-year-old girl who had already witnessed the home birth of two of her own siblings. She was on-site, i.e. at our home, during the birth. I had raided a toy store and bought DD (age 2 at the time) a plethora of new things to play with (floor puzzles, wooden train set, etc) while Mommy was "veerrrrrrrry busy!" DD did end up getting a little worried, so the sitter took her to the back yard to blow some bubbles (thank goodness it was summer)! The MW apprentice called in DD, at my request, after her baby brother was born.
I loved the security AND flexibility of having someone to watch DD. And like you, Mamaboss, I definitely didn't want it to be MIL! (Or anyone else related to me, for that matter). Like PP mentioned, it was also good knowing that this young woman could stay behind with DD if a transfer had become necessary.
Even if your four-year-old handles everything well, you'll like having someone there to fetch her snacks, talk to her about what's happening as the birth unfolds, and even pay attention to her while it seems like EVERYBODY'S attention is on the new sibling.
Post in the Find Your Tribe area. Network with other mom's using your same midwifery services (even post an announcement on their bulletin board). Check with your local La Leche League, Birth Network, babywearing group, or Holistic Moms Network. Ask for a responsible individual, preferably with home birth experience and a willingness to be "on-call" in case of a night labor. Pay them generously. (Our young sitter could hardly keep a poker face when we forked over fifty bucks! )
I think it's great to have your children present! We wanted that for our second but when the grandparents came, they took our son home with them and he didn't make it back in time :*( This time, we are going to have both of our kiddos there. Maybe in the birth tub with, not sure! It all depends on the kind of labor and birth we are having. Planning a nice get together with those in attendance for your birth, maybe at 36-38 weeks would be helpful to set boundaries. My MIL is a do-er. She can't sit still! So we will give her duties along with taking care of the children and when I start pushing, if the children are not already present, I will have her bring them in. I would include your midwife in this meeting so she can assure anyone who might be apprehensive about the birth situation. I think it also helps to convey the type of birth situation you are seeking: quiet/ dark house, or not?! I like it totally dark with the exception of candles and a flashlight but some people are okay with many folks moving around and being in the direct sunlight! No one will know these things unless you prepare them by telling them. And be sure to convey what your desires for your older child are. We wanted our second there and thought he would be fine. I went into labor when he was asleep but he woke up about 5 hours before I gave birth in the middle of the night, it was a hard labor, and he got frantic because I couldn't give him the attention he wanted. He got a bit scared too, I feel like and I didn't want that feeling to cloud his perception of the new baby. This time, he asked me to order him gloves! LOL LOL LOL!!!!! So, it all depends on you, your child, and your desires--how well you present them and demand they are followed. And giving birth attendants jobs helps too, IMO! Warm towels, food prep, child care, clean up, new birth tub water, etc...