Benefit to having older siblings present? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 02-17-2011, 03:25 PM - Thread Starter
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I am not pregnant yet, but every now and then I daydream about my next baby. I want a VBAC so badly my heart aches when I think about it. I am getting a midwife, but I havent decided home or hospital birth. There are many benefits of homebirth but the one that is pulling me is having my daughter there while her sibling is born. She will be about 4 or older at the time, so I think she may be old enough to remember it.


For those whose older children were there, was it a positive experience for them? I think my daughter would think it was so cool.

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#2 of 12 Old 02-18-2011, 09:52 PM
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I have been at births where very small children saw the birth - under 3?  It wasn't such a great experience for the child either time.  One was scared to death by the blood - the other was scared of Santa that Christmas because she has seen the Placenta and confused the words...she also was crying and saying "what's wrong with mom's butt?"  It was slightly comical for us adults, but I don't think I would invite really young children in because of that.  If your child is really old enough to watch birth videos and understand and if you're willing to really prepare her for the sights and sounds of labor and birth she might do just beautifully!!!  4 is old enough to understand quite a bit.  I've seen adults get pretty nervous at a normal birth, but I know a lot of people who've had their kids witness births and they all seem to think it is great.  I guess it is a very personal choice and not one that anyone can really weigh in on. 

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#3 of 12 Old 02-19-2011, 01:24 AM
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I'm planning a birth centre birth, and leaning towards having DD present. She'll be three and three months when the baby's born. I figure we can start her off with us - DH can bring his laptop with headphones, in case she gets bored, and we can have snacks and so on. I'm doing Hypnobabies, so hopefully I'll be calm - I was fairly restrained last time, even though I didn't feel calm! So I'm not too worried about screaming or anything.


Anyway, ideally she could chill out in the birthing room, go to sleep in a corner somewhere if she needed to, and wake up/participate in the actual birth part. She's seen plenty of birth videos on YouTube, and is pretty cool with it.


On the other hand, I'm prepared for the possibility she might either get really bored and start causing a fuss, get upset if she sees me in pain, and/or just disturb my hypnosis and get in the way. In which case, we'd go to Plan B - get my mother to pick her up. It's no more trouble for Mum to come to the birth centre than to our house, so why not? So I don't want to be dogmatic about it either way - we'll just play it by ear and see how she goes in terms of tiredness, boredness, behavior etc.


I do know of a few families in which the older kids are always present at the birth of the new baby; and they don't seem traumatised at all! I assume they prepared the kids for it pretty well beforehand, though; and these are families that are pretty low-key about life in general, so maybe that's why the kids just took it in stride? I was present at my little sister's birth and it was a great experience, but then, I was much older - 12 - so I guess that doesn't count for your purposes.

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#4 of 12 Old 02-19-2011, 01:03 PM
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we had dd at teh birth of ds2. dd had turned 5 a couple day before the birth. she had asked to attend, and we watched alot of birth videos as well as did alot of talking throughout the pregnancy. with each pg, the older kids have gone to all the appts with me, so they're very involved from about 12 wks on anyways. we didn't have ds1 cme with us because he was only 17mo and i didn't think he'd do well. had we been able to have a homebirth (ended up having a hospital birth due to cost :( ) he would have been able to come and go as he wanted as well. dd did awesome! we packed her a bag with a change of clothes, some new coloring projects, and snacks and movies. she colored quietly through most of the labor, and then about the time i started pushing she asked for a movie, which dh put on on my laptop for her. she alternated betwen watching the movie and the birth. we had mil there as dd's support person, as dh was doing most of the "catching" per our request. dd cut the cord, and then came uptothe head of the bed to snuggle with ds and i. it was an amazing experience for all of us, and i'm so glad that we included her! her only complaint..."mommy, you interuppted 'Aladdin' " lol.

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#5 of 12 Old 02-20-2011, 03:52 PM
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#6 of 12 Old 02-22-2011, 11:47 AM
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Hello!  This is a subject near and dear to my heart.  I was present for all three of my siblings' births, when I was 2, 4, and 7 years old.  They were VBACs by the way, and two of them HBACs  :)  I remember the later two and I think I had been well prepared with books, movies, and talks with my mother.  I just remember thinking how amazing it was!  And today I am a midwife, so... :)  It all turned out well!  Of course every kid is different and you know yours best.  My brother was given the option of being at those last two births and he chose not to stick around (we each had a baby sitter-type whose job it was to make sure we were ok and to take us out of the room/house if we wanted or needed to go).

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#7 of 12 Old 02-24-2011, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Katie8681 View Post

Of course every kid is different and you know yours best.



Talk to your DD and see if she's actually interested when the time comes!  If she expresses interest, watch some birthing videos together and see how she handles it.  Encourage her to talk and ask questions!

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#8 of 12 Old 02-24-2011, 08:25 PM
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#1 was 30 months old when we had #2 and it was a fabulous experience.  She was VERY attached to HER baby from that moment on.

#1 was 6.5 and #2 was 4 when #3 was born.  They were both present for the first 45 or so minutes of labor then went out for some fresh air and missed the birth.  Who expects a 65 minute labor?  They saw him at a few minutes old and were very attached to THEIR baby right away.

#1 was 9.5, #2 was 7 and #3 was 2y9m when #4 was born.  #1 caught her, #3 was present and #2 was watching tv because the crowd was overwhelming at stupid oclock in the morning :)  And yeah, they are all very firmly attached to THEIR baby.


OH... and #3 wants to know when "you're having the next baby". *grin*

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#9 of 12 Old 02-24-2011, 08:29 PM
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OH, and yes, we watched lots of birth videos (including her own) and read lots of birth stories.  She has a strong preference for UC stories.

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#10 of 12 Old 02-25-2011, 01:15 PM
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Depends on the kid.  DS1 was almost two (23.5 months) when we greeted DS2.  He was great the whole time, except when I hit transition and was loud.  DH got him calmed down, and he was there when his little bro came flying out into the birth tub.  It probably helps that it was a home birth, so the only strange thing was the amount of noise mommy was making.  We read Welcome with Love to prepare, and all has been well.  We have normal sibling rivalry, as far as I can tell.


FWIW - I am totally neurotic and couldn't bear the thought of sending DS1 away during the birth.  The plan was that he would be in the house with DH and neither would be at the birth.  The baby came so quickly that the plan flew out of the window.

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#11 of 12 Old 03-01-2011, 08:55 AM
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For my first homebirth our oldest DD was not present as it was my first conscious birth (# 1 was hospital birth with scope back in 1976) and wasn't sure what to expect for myself much less my daughter. For the next four births all the children were present, in succession :)  We read books, watched videos and talked about the upcoming birth.  I believe it created a special bond between all the kids. They are 34, 27, 24, 21, and 18 now and are very close. I would say for any child or adult that you'd like to have present at the birth to have them prepare by watching videos and talking about it- you never know what will transpire, that's part of the beauty of it, but the preparation is part of the journey and part of the joy!

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#12 of 12 Old 03-01-2011, 05:56 PM
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I witnessed/ participated in the births of my four younger siblings at age 4, 7, 15, and 16. I cut all of their umbilical cords and for the later 2 I helped with labour support as well. These experiences lead me to the profession of midwifery. I had no jealousy of my infant siblings when I was young, and it brought me very close with my mother. I wasn't afraid at age 4, even though I remember my mother making noise, and seeing blood, because no one told me that I should be. Because I grew up knowing giving birth was like, I wasn't afraid of doing it myself and had a beautiful drug-free homebirth. My younger sister, who was not allowed to come for the last 2, as they were hospital births, told me last week that she thinks she might rather have a scar on her stomach (ie a c-section) than have to endure a vaginal birth, and that she is sure she will want drugs because she's afraid of the pain and doesn't think she can do it. So there within one family you can see the difference of experience with birth.


I truly believe that children witnessing birth would reduced the fear about childbirth for both girls and boys and improve birth experiences and outcomes, as well as family relationships. Girls would learn about birth from an early age and not be so afraid, boys would learn about the strength of women and about labour support.


I vividly remember what each umbilical cord looked like, even the first one, the midwife showing me my brother's placenta, and watching the midwife stitch a tear.


Just talk to her about it ahead of time, read books. Make sure she knows that she may come and go from the room as she pleases and feels comfortable. You may want to have a sitter for her, my parents didn't have one for I or my brother. A really good book is "Mom and Dad and I are Having a Baby" by Maryann Malecki. It's hard to find but worth a search. I hope you decide to give your daughter the amazing opportunity that my parents gave me, it could change her life.

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