anyone had experience with 2-year-old attending birth? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 19 Old 03-12-2012, 07:01 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 19 Old 03-12-2012, 09:59 PM
 
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I've given birth twice with a 2 year present in the house. When DS1 was born, DH cared for her and DD1 who was 6 then, maybe 30 minutes before he was born my mom came over to take over for DH. DD2 did not do well in the same room as me, she was worried and I was in so much pain (DS1 was posterior) that I physically could not talk which freaked her out. I also needed space and silence which isn't possible with a 2 year around! I intended on having someone bring her back into the room at the very end but he came very quickly and everyone missed the actual birth. She came up right afterwards and loved her new sibling. DS1 was 2 when DS2 was born. I was in early labor all day and still cared for him, etc.... Active labor didn't start until he was asleep, and I elected not to wake him up for the birth. It was 3am by then and then we would of been really up for the day because he wouldn't of gone back to bed. Everyone was exhausted so he just slept away not knowing what was going on in the house! I honestly have no regrets at not waking him, it was the right decision for us at that time. 


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#3 of 19 Old 03-13-2012, 07:47 AM
 
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I had a homebirth with my 2 1/2 year old son in the house.  We weren't uncomfortable with him being there - we just wanted to be prepared to care for his needs and respond to his reactions to the birth.  Since we had an unassisted childbirth - we knew we'd need someone other than my husband to be present to him.  So we asked a very dear friend of ours if she'd be willing to come over if we needed her to look after our son while I labored/gave birth.  We also asked another set of friends who have children his age if they'd agree to have him overnight if necessary - say if he responded very negatively to my labor and became too stressed/anxious to be in the same space (we have a very small apartment).  So we had plan A and plan B in line.  

 

As for him being present for the actual birth, we just decided to play it by ear.  I don't think either of us had any real objection or very strong inclination to have him there - we just figured we'd go with the flow.  Both of us hoped though that he wouldn't have to leave the apartment altogether - we were hoping he would remain peaceful. 

 

It turned out that we didn't have to call either of them - because although my labor started during the day - it just started to get serious about an hour before our son's bedtime.  He did witness me in labor and he knew that the baby was coming.  He was incredibly sweet and helpful - a bit concerned for me but ever the little man - he checked in on me between contractions.  He went to bed peacefully and slept deeply (a miracle, because I am not a quiet birthing woman!) until 7am the next morning.  I gave birth at about 2:30am, and we felt no desire to wake a sleepy 2 1/2 year old!  We just enjoyed the quiet arrival of our new daughter, and soaked up her presence! 

 

Our son awoke at 7am and was thrilled (and very well rested) to meet his baby sister!  

 

This time, I will likely go the same route - even with my now 4 1/2 and 2 year old.  If they are awake, that'll be fine and have it's blessings.  But if they are asleep, I'll just soak up the new babe and wait for the kids to wake up at a normal hour.  

 

As time goes on and our older kids get to be of a certain age where I think they could handle the late night wake up and they express a desire to be there - then I'd consider deliberately waking them up.  


Lizbiz, wife to my man who makes me smile, and mom to one bouncy boy (08/07), one sassy girl (12/09), and one sweet new boy (08/12).

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#4 of 19 Old 03-13-2012, 07:57 PM
 
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ds was 27mo when dd was born at home. He was totally fine with the whole thing! dh and my mom traded off hanging out with him and spending time with me (I didn't/don't need a lot of direct "support" during labor, so personally I would have been fine without dh as necessary). We'd watched some birth videos beforehand and talked about the noises mummy might make. He seemed to find it completely normal and was actually very cute about the whole thing. I think I felt much more relaxed having him around rather than fretting about sending him off to a sitter or something (which he'd never really done before).

 

Planning to have my now-6yo ds and 4yo dd present at their brother's HB this July.


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#5 of 19 Old 03-13-2012, 08:13 PM
 
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I thought I was going to love having my 2 year old with me when his sister was born, but as soon as he got in the tub and started splashing me I had to get him out.  Luckily we had my sister there to be BuggaBoo's labor support, so I didn't have to worry about him and The Hubby and my midwives could focus on me.  I'm really selfish during labor.  He came in when I started pushing and watched Doozer be born, and that's what we really wanted.

 

I prepped my son by talking about it and showing him YouTube videos.  We started with slideshows w/ pretty music to warm him up to the idea (like this lovely one) and then progressed to ones with vocalizing.  I told him that Mommy would have to move and make noises because she would be working very hard but everything would be okay.  During my labor he was a bit anxious at first, but when my sister reminded him that I was working hard he relaxed.  Another thing that helped is the midwives let him play in an empty birth tub (I was at a birth center) and then he watched a movie.


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#6 of 19 Old 03-14-2012, 07:18 PM
 
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I was the doula for a 2 year old little boy while his mom labored and birthed. Everything went well. He would go in the room every now and then to hang out and then leave to play. I just followed his cues and once mom started to get really loud he wanted to leave so I brought him downstairs to the basement and we watched a movie (turned the volume up a bit:)) and had a snack. Once all was quiet I gave it some time and asked if he would like to go upstairs and he did. He was able to meet his new sister and cuddle with his parents. (Mom asked me to follow his cues and didn't ask for him to be brought up during the birth.)

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#7 of 19 Old 03-14-2012, 07:45 PM
 
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I plan on just seeing how it goes during labor/birth.  My son was almost 2 when my daughter was born and he was sleeping for the whole thing from start to finish.  I've had two babies over night, so I kind of assume this one will be too.  But, if not, I'm thinking I will be okay with the kids in and out during labor and then there at the end to see her be born.  If it's nighttime though, I will probably have them stay asleep, they are 4 and 2.  Unless my 4 year old asks to be woken up, he's been pretty excited about having a new baby in the family.   I will have my dad here though, to watch the kids. 


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#8 of 19 Old 03-15-2012, 03:10 AM
 
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My 2yo will be there. :) I haven't done this before, as my older dd was almost 6 when the younger was born. She didn't care to be in the same room because she said I was too loud. lol.gif DD2 has seen lots of births on youtube and such. She knows the baby will have to come out and where it will have to come out. She wants to watch birth videos over and over. I think it's like some sort of magic trick to her, lol. I don't know how she'll act, but we're new to this state and don't really have anyone here to be with her, although we do have a couple friends we could call in an emergency. I know she wouldn't go with them willingly though, so that would probably stress me out more than just having here present. Both times before my water broke in the middle of the night, so I imagine she'll be sleeping. We'll just see if she even wakes up. If she does, we're pretty lucky in that she's a crazily laid back kid. I think she'll do just fine.

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#9 of 19 Old 03-15-2012, 01:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you!  Your stories and input is incredibly helpful.  In the past couple days we've arranged for a doula for my 2-yr-old.  However, she has 4 kids of her own and lives 1 1/2 hrs away, so it may be just us, we'll see.  I have some friends closer that we can use in a pinch, but I'd prefer our selected doula. I also labored overnight and delivered my first at 6:44am, so I'll be curious to see if something similar happens this time and we really don't need to prepare her much as she will be sleeping.

 

BUT- what's the harm of showing her lots of videos??  I figure we prepare for every contingency (having her there, not there, emergency transfer, etc) and when the time comes we will know the right thing to do.

 

If there are any other stories/advice out there, I'd love to hear it.  Thank you all for your help!!

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#10 of 19 Old 03-18-2012, 09:04 PM
 
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If you don't mind my tacking on to this thread instead of starting another - anyone who DIDN'T have their 2-year old around during their HB?  What did you do with them and when did you bring them back?  I had a HB with my first, but even just having DH, MW and MW assistant in the room felt like overload to me, and I loved the peace and quiet after they left and just us getting to know our new addition.  Friends came over to visit the next day and it was overwhelming.  We're planning a HB for my 2nd, but I don't want DS around during the birth - I don't want to have to limit myself for fear of scaring or waking him, feel like I can't go in certain areas of the house (disrupting his play - I'm a pacer when I'm stressing out), or have to respond to his need for attention.  But we're not sure what to do with him - if we have a friend take him once my labor starts, we'd like to have him BACK as quickly as possible smile.gif but that means we'll have at least one person over to visit very soon after giving birth.  We live about an hour away from all our friends (and 3000 miles from our families) so visits are never short.  Did anyone kick the kid out for the birth, and if so, how did you get him back without declaring Visiting Hours?

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#11 of 19 Old 03-18-2012, 11:53 PM
 
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For thursday2:

 

My first homebirth I did kick out the older two & sent them to my in-laws' house to spend the night. That worked well for me & I had time to recover/rest a bit for the first day.

 

My second homebirth, I labored & birthed in the room next to my three sleeping older kids (aged almost 2, 3, and 4). I'm not quiet at the end, but they slept through the whole thing! I'm not sure if it was because of the vaporizer in their room to provide white noise or what, but it worked great! I had my sister-in-law come to pick them all up as soon as they woke up in the morning, so they met the new baby & then left me alone to sleep that day!

 

In a few weeks I'm due to be having my third homebirth & I'm hoping for a repeat of the last experience...this time I'll have a 2, 4, 5, and 6 year old sleeping in the room next to me. If they happen to wake up, I'll let them in if they really want to be there, but I won't hesitate to have my DH take them away if needed.

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#12 of 19 Old 03-20-2012, 11:13 AM
 
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As others have also shared, we decided to play it by ear.  There were too many unknowns for me to make a real decision before the birth began when trying to account for a two year old.  Our son was 2.5 at the time and I tried to prepare him for whatever situation may occur.  I explained birth to him all the time, starting super early on during the pregnancy.  He really enjoyed these conversations and developed a rudimentary understanding of where babies are before they are born and where they come out.   He’s a very bright, intelligent, little boy but he’s also sensitive so I wanted to respect him and his ability to deal with the situation.  In the end, labor started at nearly 2 a.m. so we had my MIL be the designated babysitter and she arrived and she stayed in his room with him and they slept until nearly 8am (baby was born at 4:04 am).  Honestly, when I reflected back on him not being there I was very happy, I feel like I absolutely would have freaked him out.  I wasn’t being loud at all but I was obviously in tremendous amounts of pain and I don’t think he would have coped well.  No amount of talking or video showing would have prepared him to see HIS mom all caught up in birth.

 

 

 

 

 


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#13 of 19 Old 03-25-2012, 10:15 AM
 
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I didn't want my kids around...  I just needed it to be calm and quiet- so my plan was for my SIL to come get them.  Well DS3 was 3 weeks late and after a couple of bouts of labor that stalled about a week before he actually came- my mom just knew that I couldn't handle anymore and picked up the kids and took them to her house.  It worked very well.  I had a couple of days after the birth to recover on my own- then had to get the kids from my moms and then they got to meet him.  

 

This time I am again planning on calling my SIL to get the kids- DD wants to watch- but I don't think I could handle that.  I need to be calm and focused- and with DD there I just don't think I could be focused enough.  My mw isn't too keen on 2 year olds present for the birth anyway....  


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#14 of 19 Old 03-29-2012, 05:07 PM
 
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This is a question I was asked by almost every MW I interviewed.  They all made it very clear that if I wanted DS to be there, that was fine with them, but that he needed a dedicated support person, separate from the one who was *my* support person. 

 

We're not planning on having him present, though.  While he would probably be just fine with it, I don't think I would be, he is just too high energy and clingy.  And there is nobody I can ask to come stay with him while I labor/birth that I'm okay with being in my space for that process (and that he's okay with).  I have a good friend who has volunteered to take him for as long as necessary.  She has experience with him, and 2 little girls he adores, and she'll just deal with whatever he throws at her. 

 

If I go into labor in the late afternoon/evening, I'll probably just wait until the next morning to call her, since he's a pretty good sleeper.  And then we'll see how long my labor is.  But if I'm looking at an extended labor with him present, that's just not going to work for me. 


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#15 of 19 Old 06-27-2012, 11:29 PM
 
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I attend my brother's birth at 2 and half and cut the cord afterwards. I remember the event very clearly and it has made me innately unfearful of birth as an adult. I never realized how rare that is but am now grateful for the experience more than ever.

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#16 of 19 Old 06-28-2012, 05:35 AM
 
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My 20mo attended my last home birth - which was in the morning - and paid very little attention to what I was doing though she's never stopped being enthralled with her baby brother. My going-to-be-18mo will be present for the next birth and I have no worries. Of course they did/will have my mom to watch them. Previously my almost 3yo slept right across the hall through a deep night birth. 


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#17 of 19 Old 06-28-2012, 05:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks to all of you!!  Your feedback was very helpful.  Just an update- my son was born on May 1st.  I started labor around 2:30am, had wonderful early/easy labor until 7:30am, then transitioned very quickly into hard labor (came on like a freight train!)  My DD was able to be a part of about an hour of early labor, then when hard labor started, I bolted for the bathroom as I suddenly wanted no one around but my husband and midwife.  Luckily a friend (my DD's doula) showed up quickly and she was able to stay upstairs while I labored and birthed at 9;35am.  DD was able to meet her little brother very soon after his birth and it was perfect.  She was as enchanted by him as we all were.  She kept to her schedule that day- didn't even miss her nap!

 

Her doula said DD expressed concern only once (I was vocalizing pretty loudly), but was very calm for the rest of the time, just thrilled to have doula over to play and watch videos- a rare treat.  I feel like everything turned out EXACTLY as it should!

 

I am very grateful for your comment, typebug.  I have often wondered how she might and if she might remember that day.  She talks about it all the time now, but who knows if she will retain it, I hope so.  I'm hopeful that she will have a similar experience that you did, typebug, and not fear birth.

 

Her aunt and uncle are having  baby in October, and the other day she sweetly asked if her uncle had a birth tub ready for her aunt.  I explained that many women have their babies in hospitals on tables or beds, she looked at me with this completely confused and blank expression.  How wonderful to change the culture of fear around birth one kid at a time. :)

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#18 of 19 Old 07-01-2012, 07:47 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by walkinbluesmama View Post

 

 

I am very grateful for your comment, typebug.  I have often wondered how she might and if she might remember that day.  She talks about it all the time now, but who knows if she will retain it, I hope so.  I'm hopeful that she will have a similar experience that you did, typebug, and not fear birth.

 

 

My mother told my brother's birth story every year on his birthday (and she still does this with mine to this day... I know it by heart. We all groan when she starts but it's sweet too.) I think that helped me remember. It probably reinforced how she felt about it too and helped me interpret my memory. I still cherish my baby brother though he's 29 now!


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#19 of 19 Old 07-01-2012, 09:51 AM
 
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DH isn't so great for me as labor support, he doesn't handle it too well. He's the dedicated childcare person, and stays in another room. It's so reassuring for me to know the kids are close by, but well taken care of. I am a very quiet birther, so it doesn't scare them. 


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