Would you include three-year-old in the delivery room? - Mothering Forums
April 2011 > Would you include three-year-old in the delivery room?
kgreenemama's Avatar kgreenemama 08:21 PM 01-06-2011

We're having a hospital birth, as we did when DS was born. DS is SO into his baby sister, that I've been envisioning him being with us at her birth. The first memory of my life is the birth of my own sister. (Of cousre, it's limited to waiting in the lobby with my grandfather and looking in at my mom and sister in the nursery through a pane of glass.) But that memory is so special to me! I know DS's first permanant memories will be forming soon. I would love for him to remember seeing his baby sister in her first moments of life. However, I don't want the sentimentality of this vision to overshadow the reality - that he might freak out seeing his mother moaning like a dying cow or just be in the way. Anyone have experience with an LO at the birth of a sibling? THANKS!

bleumoose's Avatar bleumoose 09:58 PM 01-06-2011

Depends on the kid, the policies of your birth location. Another important consideration is how you think you'll feel about having him there while laboring--will you be concerned about him and distracted by that?


When I was pregnant with my second, there was no way I would have considered my older one at the birth. He was/is very high needs and sensitive, and he wouldn't have handled my laboring well at all. My second would probably do all right at a labor, as long as he had a trusted adult with him during labor. He's still sensitive, but he's a more mature sensitive than my oldesr son (if that makes sense).


If you want the possibility of having him there, have a grownup that he trusts deeply there to be with him, remove him if needed, and to take care of his needs and explain what's going on. it might also help to talk to him ahead of time and explain that you might need some private time while you're in labor, and the grownup might need to take him out of the room (might be a way of explaining your not wanting him there in the moment, or if things get too intense for a little one).


You could also have him brought in immediately after birth, so he sees the baby as fresh as can be, without any of the drama leading up to it. This is what I'm considering doing with our boys.

LifewithSage's Avatar LifewithSage 08:29 AM 01-07-2011

I agree with the PP.  It really depends on the child.  My oldest is incredibly sensitive and emotional.  I think it would truly upset him to see mom in a lot of pain.  I think it would really upset me to see him upset.  My youngest is much less sensitive and would do fine, but he'll be not quite 2 so it seems like a moot point since he wouldn't remember it anyways.


If you think he could handle it and you can handle it and your hospital allows children that young to be present, then I say go for it!  I can't imagine anything more amazing than watching your little sister come into this world!  Also, a lot of hospitals have sibling classes for kids that are planning on being at the birth.  He may be too young to participate or to get much out of it, but it is definitely worth looking into.  I think they do a lot of explaining what's going on with various nurses and instruments and what not that can be a little scary for kids.

dayiscoming2006's Avatar dayiscoming2006 08:59 AM 01-07-2011

My 2 cents...


Check with your hospital to make sure it's OK. Decide if your son might be able to handle it. Maybe show him birth videos so he understands how it is. 


I'm pretty sure both my kids will be at the birth and I'm certain they can handle it. I'm hopefully giving birth at home though.

philomom's Avatar philomom 09:04 AM 01-07-2011

At three, he most likely won't remember. For me, I sent my daughter ( then age two and half) off with friends. She had a great time. I had a great birth and didn't have to worry about her.

Lucy Alden's Avatar Lucy Alden 09:21 AM 01-07-2011



I've had one hospital birth and two homebirths.  I think that a hospital birth might be a little overwhelming to a LO.  Lots of noise, unfamiliar people coming and going, no where to play or escape, no great access to snacks, etc.  I had my 15 month old at my second homebirth and it was no big deal.  However, he was asleep in his own crib when I went into labor and was surrounded by his normal environment when he woke up.  My 4 1/2 year old was at my first homebirth and did great until I started pooping shy.gif in the tub.  Once that happened she decided she'd much rather be watching cartoons at the neighbors lol.gif.


If you decide to have him there I'd definitely have someone there for him so if he gets bored, scared, tired, hungry, etc. or you get distracted by him being there you have someone to attend to him.  Make sure he watches videos of mamas birthing, gets to tour the hospital with you and practice making funny birthing noises with him around (My DD and I would moan and bellow in the car.  She thought it was super funny).  However, I think if he missed the birth and was the first to come in after the baby is born he'd probably be just as excited.  Maybe he could have a special gift (first hat) or job (like being the first to kiss the baby) when he comes in.


pattimomma's Avatar pattimomma 12:31 PM 01-07-2011

I am not sure about a hospital birth but I have always had my kids at my home births. In fact my then nine year old ended up being my labor support with baby number 4. She just kinda took over that job as if it was completely natural for a young girl to help her mom in labor. She had no sibling or child birth classes. In fact when she was 3 the blood and mess and all (from baby number 2) didn't phase her at all, much to everyone's surprise. At home they can come in and out as they please in their own environment. Also I am pretty calm in labor. I think  labor and delivery can be great experiences for children. My kids have no questions about how the baby gets out at least LOL


You know your child better than anyone. Trust yourself to make the right choice.

gummibears's Avatar gummibears 12:34 PM 01-07-2011

My son is 8, and I still don't want him in the delivery room. I think he might be scared somethings wrong and get under foot, and there's just some things that he doesn't fully need to know about his sister's arrival. That said, he WILL be in the waiting room with Gramma and he will stay the entire time that we are in the hospital because he deserves to be a part of the early family bonding that goes on in those early hospital stay days.

calebsmama03's Avatar calebsmama03 04:27 PM 01-07-2011

DS was 26 mos when DD was born (at home) and was there because the birth went too fast for our friend to come get him.  He doens't remember anything of it now and did well being there, but took away from DHs ability to be there for me a bit since he had to watch and care for DS.   Thankfully it was a REALLy fast labor so I didn't need him much!  With this one, DD (5) wants to be there and DS (who'll be 8 then) isn't quite sure.  I'm trying to find GOOD homebirth videos to show them and then am letting them decide.  Unless it is another super fast one - then wherever they're at is where they'll stay till the baby is out!  If its not another super fast one, how I feel during the labor will also decide if they're in the room or not.  The good thing with a planned HB and slightly older kids is that I can send them off to get a snack or play downstairs and not have to worry who is watching them.

StarCat's Avatar StarCat 06:10 PM 01-07-2011

I probably wouldn't have had my girls in the room at 3. But maybe....that's an in between age as to what they do/don't understand and definitely depends on the kid.   I would have wanted them nearby for sure.  The girls are only 17 months apart.  With DD2 I had my sister there to watch her.  They were at the birth center but out front reading books and watcing movies.  They came right in after.  The girls are now 5and 6. (will be close to 7) when this one is born.  I really want both of them there.  I feel like its important for them to be a part of it.  I plan to watch lots of births with them and give them lots of chances to ask questions.  I also have asked 2 of my friends to come and be there with each of them.  That way they always have someone there to ask questions to and if one needs to step out for a bit the other can stay in and still have a person with them.  I'm not thrilled about having all the people there but they are very good friends and I know are excited to be a part of it.  I also am not sure I will need them because I think the girls will handle it pretty well but better safe than sorry. 

Adasmommy's Avatar Adasmommy 07:46 PM 01-08-2011

I agree with having someone there to hold his hand in the delivery room or take him to the waiting room if he gets scared, bored, or otherwise.  Also watch birth videos and see if he is still interested or handles them well.  Talk to him lots about it, the noises, the anatomy, how it might look like a disaster even though it's not!  Tell him his birth story, too.

Stayseeliz's Avatar Stayseeliz 11:01 PM 01-08-2011

I know I wouldn't want to. 3yo's are just too busy and I'd be worried about my toddler instead of the birth. You never know how long labor will be even if it's not your first. I had a friend give birth to her 4th earlier this week and only her 10yo stayed. She had a 12+ hour labor with a lot of pushing. Just seems a bit much for a 3yo.

2happymamas's Avatar 2happymamas 06:45 AM 01-09-2011

We will not have DD, who will be almost 28 months, at the birth. She tends to get really worried if she thinks there's anything wrong with me and I would like to be able to concentrate on labor without fear of scaring her. If I am in active labor during the day, she will be sent to daycare and my MIL will get her immediately after the baby is born. She could be home within 1/2 hour of the birth. If I have the baby at night, I will likely send DD up to my MIL's room (she stays 3 nights per week) or to one of my sister's houses if it's a night MIL is not staying.

havsulen's Avatar havsulen 07:07 AM 01-09-2011

I am having my almost 3 year old and my 6 year old present, we're planning a home birth. At my last birth, our 3 year old was present (also a home birth), but it was late and she had fallen asleep during pushing. But she was definately part of most of it, she helped me make a birth tea in the kitchen, saw me swaying, walking, squatting, eating, etc - everything was peaceful and kind of like a normal day. However, since we were at home, she could play like she wanted to and take breaks from being around me when she wanted to. She wanted to listen to an audio book and have some home made smoothie at one point - things like that would probably be a bit more difficult to arrange in the hospital. We did have a friend of mine come over to be her helper, but she  had a distance to travel and only arrived after dd1 had fallen asleep. She spent the night and was a great help the morning after, though - playing and giving her lots of attention which she really enjoyed.


This time, our oldest is 6 years old and determined to be present. And her little sister is almost 3, and I don't want to separate them and only let one of them be part of it. They are both watching home birth videos on YouTube and we have several books for kids about birth that we read frequently (Our Water Baby, Hello Baby, Runas Birth etc). For us, it is a family event. DD2 often talks about the birth, and she repeats that the midwife will be coming to catch the baby when she comes out, so that she won't fall down on the floor, LOL. They will both meet out midwife before birth, and they have seen the birth video from last time, so they are familiar with some of the sights and sounds.


If I was going to the hospital, I don't think I would have had them present in the delivery room, though. Maybe that's because I am a doula and I have been to some hospital births where I have not enjoyed the way the staff have treated and talked to the birthing woman. The way it works here is so that you don't choose your birth team in advance, you get whoever is on duty when you arrive at the hospital. The rooms at my local hospitals are quite small and full of equipment, too. But waiting in a room close by with a trusted helper sounds like a good idea to me. 


Best of luck in making the right choice for you!

dayiscoming2006's Avatar dayiscoming2006 06:58 PM 01-09-2011

Originally Posted by philomom View Post

At three, he most likely won't remember. 

That's not necessarily true. I remember seeing my sister in the hospital as a newborn baby and my mom in bed. I was 2 and a half years old. It is more likely to be one of those experiences that sticks out in memory compared to other experiences. So, it is certainly possible it'd be an experience your son would remember. You just need to decide how you want him to play a part. Does he stay in the room with you, stay in the waiting room or come to the hospital to visit. 

Oregonicmama's Avatar Oregonicmama 11:07 AM 01-10-2011

My partner was 2.5 when his brother was born at home and he remembers it too.  He was also there for his other brother's birth at home when he was 10.  He really wants all the kids to be there for the birth this time, but I'm not super into the idea of 3 kids in the room when I'm giving birth.  I'm kind of a "cranky" birther and would much prefer that they be in another room and come in to see the baby after the birth.  DD1 was not present at her sister's birth (she was 3.5).  I think it would have been distracting to me to have her there and I think it would have really freaked her out to see me in pain and acting so weird.  I'm planning to show them some videos, discuss what will go on, and let them decide if they want to be there.  But I'm sort of hoping they will be asleep or something when the time comes. 

pattimomma's Avatar pattimomma 04:45 PM 01-16-2011

You might want to check with your hospital about their current policy. I have a friend who is having a baby in March. Normally they allow children but they recently told her that they are on high alert for flu and were not allowing any children in. The restriction may be lifted by March but it might not.

zinemama's Avatar zinemama 04:55 PM 01-16-2011
No, I wouldn't. More for my own sake, to be honest. My ds was 3 when I gave birth. Had he been there, I would have been horribly torn between trying to make this experience ok for him, reassuring him, worrying about how he was doing - and my own need to tune out everything and concentrate on labor, which is difficult enough as it is.
Skippy918's Avatar Skippy918 04:27 PM 01-17-2011

Not planning on it.  I think it would be too much of a distraction and DH wouldn't be able to help me and watch DS at the same time.  DS would probably start touching things he shouldn't be and getting in the way of the staff.