Older children at hospital birth? - Mothering Forums
Birth and Beyond > Older children at hospital birth?
MunchiesMom's Avatar MunchiesMom 01:48 PM 02-12-2012

Has anyone had positive experiences with old siblings present for a hospital birth? I know it's common with homebirths, but what about the hospital? What are some things I can do to create a family-centered birth experience in the hospital?


I'm due with #2 this summer and I'm looking forward to a successful VBAC. Unfortunately, I can't afford the cost that comes with the one homebirth midwife (out of three) who will accept HBACs, so it's two hours out of town I go during labor. The midwives I'll be birthing with in the hospital are known for being  natural birth oriented and allow younger children in the maternity area.


I'd like to recreate the family-centered birth experience in the hospital, as well as I can. What can I do now to prepare for this?


I have a friend who will be joining us to attend to 4YO DS and DH will be there as well. I have hired a VBAC experienced doula, who will accompany us too.  So I've got the "someone for me, someone for DS" thing covered. We've been talking with DS and reading about birth, and watch natural birth videos on YouTube. If he needs to leave  during the birth he'll be comfortable with my friend.


Can anyone share their hospital birth experiences where their older children are present? If they stayed with you during labor and delivery, what did you bring for them to do the whole time? I want toprepare my "bag of tricks" now... like DVDs, games, etc? Did your DC stay the night at the hospital as well?


Thanks for your thoughts!

Mom31's Avatar Mom31 07:46 PM 02-12-2012

Have you discussed this with your hospital tho?  I really don't know if this is even an option for you in all honesty.

I have never heard of them allowing a 4 yo in the delivery room at a hospital.I am wondering if in the maternity area- is the same as in the room with you?  I would want clarification and something in writing- the hospital I went to agreed to everything I said at the meeting- then I got there and was in labor and they ignored all of my requests.

tropicana's Avatar tropicana 08:33 PM 02-12-2012

i have a story! it was 2009 and i'm in a suburban area of a large city. i had a traditional OB practice, but used the midwife of this group. i wanted a natural hospital birth, and got it! i had a doula, and my DH, my mother and my daughter, who was 3, all with me in the delivery room. 


what i did was labor at home, all the way up till when i got bloody show. i was 7 cm when i arrived at the hospital. it was about 9 at night. my daughter was asleep in her car seat. my husband drove the cat all the way up to the hospital door, and i walked in from there myself. we were expecting my mom to have to wait in the hallway with my sleeping daughter, but when i asked the admitting nurse where they could stay, she said they could come right into the delivery room with me!!! joy!!!


so that's what happened. DD came in, still in her carseat, placed on top of a wheelchair (since it was so heavy for anyone to carry), she was set next to my bed and the wall. my mother was in charge of watching her, but she basically slept through it all. my doulas took care of me (i turned out to have 2, since one was a "student doula" -- and also a massage therapist). i got to walk the hallways at transition and everything. i was on my feet until the point that i could feel that the baby's head was *right there* and i told the midwife to get ready. i got on the bed to deliver on my side. one push and his head was out, a second push and his body was out. he cried. that's when DD woke up to meet her brother.


truly a blessed experience. 


i stressed out about it prior to it all coming together. i was 41 and thus "high risk" due to age. but it was a risk "on paper" only; as it turned out it was a perfectly easy experience, no medications, no real "medical help" needed. we used a hospital, but it turned out to be very family centered. i had all my "people" there -- husband, daughter, and my mother... for the arrival of my son. 


i think i got really really lucky!

MunchiesMom's Avatar MunchiesMom 09:14 PM 02-12-2012
That's beautiful Tropicana! I dream for things to go that smoothly for me!

The midwife has said several times that children are allowed. They can even stay the night on the fold out couch.

Because DS will be there,.I'm worrying about.my.pain management technique. I don't want to be screamin like a crazy and scare him!.Perhaps.I should.look into hypnosis. Any experiences with that as well?
mom2qts's Avatar mom2qts 09:19 AM 02-14-2012

I just wanted to let you know that I had a hospital birth with #3 and both of my older children were present for the entire thing and it went wonderfully.  Thankfully i had a pretty quick labor so there wasnt a lot of down time.  We were only at the hospital a few hours before my son was born.  It was all so new and exciting though my daughters never really got bored or "in the way".  I knew from the start that they would be part of the birth since my dh was deployed at the time so i made sure I had a bag full of tricks for each of them.  I filled them with new coloring books and crayons as well as a few of their favorite toys.  I also made sure i grabbed their  "lovies", a special blankie and a special stuffed animal.  As exciting as it all is I know that it might seem scary to little ones so i wanted them to have something to hug.  My saving grace though was that my room had a tv and the nurse found them cartoons right away.  They didn't seem to be very interested in what was going on for most of the time but once pushing started and i got a little more vocal my oldest who was 4 at the time would come over and peek under the nurses arm at what everyone was looking at then come up and ask me if I was ok.  I would say yes and then she'd go back to her cartoons.  I  think i really lucked out that i had such a relaxed birth team.  they just let the kids wander around the room and explore.  No one made a big deal out of any of it so it never seemed to phase them, they just took the whole thing in stride.  I feel from my experience that if you treat it all naturally and don't have a lot of comotion in the room kids just go with the flow.  The same girls watched the homebirth of their 2nd brother 2 years later and it was actually the same atmosphere in my own room as there was in the hospital.  I just let them do what was comfortable to them.  For one dd it was watching from afar in the doorway and the other wanted to be right there up close and personal again.  I loved having my kids there to watch their siblings join our family, such a wonderful experience to share together.  My girls still love looking at the pictures of the L&D and talk about everything that went on.

mom2qts's Avatar mom2qts 09:27 AM 02-14-2012

Just read your question about pain management.  I have never done hypnosis so I cant really say how that would go, excpet that I had a friend who used it and she had to stay really focuse on her hypnosis techniques and didn't have her son there b/c she was worried she wouldn't be able to focus.  I didn't really have a plan as far a pain management went.  I was not a big screamer with the 1st birth they were present for but i did do a whole lot of low guteral moaning and rocking.  I know as i got louder my daughter would become more concerned but never really seemed fearful.  Then with the homebirth I did do some screaming and that seemed to startle them but once I gathered myself I would make sure to would smile at them and reassure them that I was ok and for them that seemed like enough to keep them from being terribly afraid.  GL and i hope the whole thing goes as smoothly and you get the experience you are looking for.

tropicana's Avatar tropicana 01:43 PM 02-15-2012

this is the ticket, OP. you have to do your early laboring at home, and get to the hospital only in time for the grand finale, so to speak. AND be lucky enough for everything to go smoothly.


was your first birth pretty straight-forward? i don't want to give anyone advice, but if i were you, i would read up as much as possible about having a baby on your own, and learn the signs of early labor and how to get through them, and also be aware of what are the signs of potential problems, and how to know when you must seek medical help (ie, can't feel the baby moving, etc., etc.) that way you can have the confidence to get through the early part of labor without you (and your son) being confined to a hospital room.

Originally Posted by mom2qts View Post

We were only at the hospital a few hours before my son was born.  It was all so new and exciting though my daughters never really got bored or "in the way". 


fyrwmn's Avatar fyrwmn 06:58 PM 02-16-2012

my dd turned 5yo a few days before the birth  of her second brother. she had requested throughout the pregnancy to be present for the birth, so we prepped her with books, lots of discussions, and youtube videos of natural births, as well as all the kids coming ot all my prenatals after the 12 wk mark. i was 5 or 6cm when we got to the hospital around 11pm. i packed her a bag with her blankie, a change of clothes (just in case), snacks, movies and my laptop, coloring stuff, etc. she sat at the table and colored quietly for quite a while. at some point she requested a movie on the laptop and sat watching that. she did awesome throughout the delivery and got to see her brother as soon as he was out. she also cut the cord, which she'd requested to be able to do. after he was born, she climbed up in bed with the baby and i and checked him out. it was an amzing experience to be able to share with her. it also helped ease the disappointment of having another brother instead of a sister (we didn't find out the sex prior to the birth.

we're actually planning a homebirth for this babe, and the 2 oldest kids have asked to be present (will be 3yrs and 6.5yrs at the time of the birth). the 3yo will get the honors of cutting the cord this time :)

MunchiesMom's Avatar MunchiesMom 03:50 PM 03-29-2012
Bumping this older post... I' **** worrying about this and wjould love more positive xperiences. Since the hosital is 2 hrs away, how do I show up for the final stage of labor? awith DS?
fruitfulmomma's Avatar fruitfulmomma 04:16 PM 03-29-2012

MunchiesMom, we are about 35-45 minutes away but we found a hotel about 2 minutes away, so we are thinking about heading in early labor and hanging out at the hotel so I don't have to be in the car for a long ride when everything really gets going.


This is our first planned hospital birth, so I don't have that specific experience, but my daughter was at our last birth at home and did pretty well. We had a friend of ours, who was a student midwife at the time, to be here for her. She is planning to come to this birth as well. We've read all the hospital info and done the tour and they are totally cool with children or whoever we want being present at the birth. Only rule is that each child must have an adult present that is not mom or the dad/coach. They have couch beds in the room so she can sleep if it gets to be too long plus they have some snacks available too. I plan to pack her an activity bag for stuff to do if she gets bored. She will be 10. Oh, they have a sibling tour too so I am going to try to get us a slot in one before the birth so she can see what everything looks like and get a feel of the atmosphere.

MunchiesMom's Avatar MunchiesMom 01:31 PM 03-30-2012
That's a good idea...leave town during early labor and get a hotel until it's time to go to the hospital. And bring a big bag of games, books and movies for DS.

I hope we don't come prematurely though or if I have predominal labor because DH just took a new job and will have zero paid vacation. :0

Ahh the logistics ate so stressful!
Tags: Pregnancy