My four year old was present at his sister's birth in January. It was wonderful. We asked him if he wanted to be there and he always said he did. I think that's important for kids old enough to have an opinion. If he had said no, I would have been disappointed, but would have abided his wishes. We also had my MIL there for him in case it got to be too much. That was important because for a lot of the labor, they walked around, went shopping, etc. He also wasn't there for hte really hard labor, but came in when it was time to push.
He very proudly tells people he was the first one to kiss his sister and the second one to hold her. I did not believe that it would help curb sibling rivalry at all, but now I'm wondering. We'll see how it goes as she gets more mobile, but right now, they adore each other.
To reiterate what I said above though, I do think it depends on the child. We watched a couple of videos and practiced making big sounds so he would know what to expect. With this child at this age, it was truly excellent.
My kids were home but I also had a sitter so I did not need to concentrate on them. They hung out a bit during early labour, but then got a bit freaked and went downstairs. My daughter popped up just before the baby arrived just as I was looking into DH eyes and saying "help me!" So she ran down stairs and said the baby is almost here but dont go up there! It is scary! As soon as they heard her cry they came up and loved it all. My daughter helped with the newborn check and the boys..well they stood on the placenta!!! by accident!
If I could do it again, I would ask my MW to call the kids just as I began to push the baby out. They have not forgiven me for not seeing the baby come out. Especially my oldest son who kept insisting he did not want to watch the birth so go figure! But in spite of me talking about it a lot and showing them dvds, I do think my rather ungraceful moaning scared them a little. My daughter has said she is not having any babies because it is too sore! I know she will change her mind though and I tried to tell her how awesome it is giving birth even though I sound kind of scared!
If it helps my sons were 7 and 4 and my daughter 6. So I think it is a personal choice. depends on the kids and of course the Mum. Some women are able to interact more during labour. I am very internal and can focus only on pushing baby out. Some women are quite quiet...am always envious when I see there youtube clips! For me once I get going, I am overwhelmed and fairly vocal. I know within me that this is what happens to get my baby out, but it is harder for the kids to see that.
Still, while I am not planning on another child, if I did, I would defs invite the kids up at pushing time if they wanted to be there.
Both of my boys were at my recent homebirth. They were 6 and 9 at the time. Prior to my baby's birth the boys went to all my appointments with my midwife and we watched natural childbirth videos at home. When it came time for the actual birth my youngest got into the birthing tub with my husband and I while my oldest went into the house to watch cartoons with my dad.
I think the most important thing to look at when deciding whether or not to have your other children there is to make sure that if at the last moment they change their mind (like my oldest) they have the option of leaving without being made to feel uncomfortable or bad about the decision.
oh wow...what a great thread! thank you for starting this! my older dd's are 5 and 6 years old.I haven't asked them about being at the birth yet because i am also a vocal birther. i LOVE the idea of witnessing thier mother homebirthing thier new sibling to help solidify in thier minds from a young age that birth is normal and wonderful....on the other hand, i think my "verbalizations" would probably scare just about anyone-me included!! lol. i certainly don't want to do the opposite and actually end up teaching them to fear...??
my son will be 2 and he will be with a friend....he is very much a mama's boy and when i birth i am solely focused on birth, i am afraid even if he came up to be held and reassured i was okay, i would snap at him.
i really, really love the idea of them coming in the room at pushing time, and esecially getting to be VERY active with the newborn stuff immediatly following. (although i could completly see my 6 year old telling everyone she meets afterwards, "yes! my mommy's baby came out of HER BOTTOM! right HERE!!!!" followed by a full hands on demonstration lol...i could SO totally see her doing this
I also really value the advise to giving the older children an outlet to not witness it if they change thier mind at the last minute without any negative adverse reactions to that decision.
DH and i haven't discussed this yet. the girls were 3 and 4 when thier brother was HB-ed. we had a friend watch them. my younger one is pretty sensitive, i was afraid of scaring her at that time. they didnt come to meet thier new brother until 8 hours after birth. i had really wanted them there sooner,but friend INSISTED on waiting until later to come by.
: i diff want them there sooner this time.
I will have to talk with dh about this and see what he says. i haven't brought it up to the kids yet. not watched any videos or anything yet....i look forward to reading everyone elses experiences and advice.
I think it's good to be flexible, and leave things open. Prepare them to see the birth (my boys watch YouTube birthing videos with me!), but also make sure you have someone available to be there for them who can take them out during if either they OR you need it. Sometimes, little ones can be too big a distraction for mom.
Ds1 was at ds2's birth, and it was fine. My mom was holding him the whole time, so he wasn't a distraction at all. Plus, everything went very fast, so there wasn't time for him to get bored, or want me, or anything.
i was at my younger brothers' births when i was 2.5, 5.5, and 8. i only kind of remember the first two, but i vividly remember the 3rd. the first one, i peed on my g-ma when my brother came out, the second i was more scared about the "incredible hulk" show that my older brother was watching in the other room, and the third i was old enough to understand and was just in awe of my mom. i remember when i was 8 just staying out of her way but kind of following her around. we all thought the last was going to be a girl and i did not want to miss the birth of my long awaited sister. needless to say it was a boy instead. i was next to my mom when he was born and i immediatly started crying and the first thing my mom says is, "i'm sorry, but that is the last one".
then, she gave me the baby before she even held him, and i totally fell in love with him. i have always been his second mommy. i think that since i was there and held him and saw it i was able to get over my diasppointment about him not being a girl.
my older brother always could never really be bothered to watch, but he always made it in there right before the baby came.
i think that it really helped with sibling rivalry and making us a very tight clan of 5.
of course, my g-ma was always there to help take care of us if we needed to leave the room.
also, since i grew up with this being the way to birth, it was never a question for me about how i wanted to have a baby. even with all of the tv shows and societal views, i have never waivered in my belief in hb. even when dh and i were dating, we had a specific convo about the births of our future kids. if he had not agreed about hb we would not have gotten married. luckily he also comes from a hb family, so he understands.
i am planning to have my 2.5 y.o. dd there when i push, but not necessarily when i labor. my mom and dad are coming over to play with her and make cupcakes for the baby while i labor. i think that would be too much for her and i need to be able to focus on labor.
but i want her to see the actual pushing.
I want to second whoever said to think about how having the older child there will affect you. My doula did NOT want her daughter present because she knew she wouldn't be able to labor well that way. On the other hand, I was pretty sure having my son there would make me stronger. It's fine either way, of course, but listen to your heart and don't feel bad if it's better for you to not have the older ones about.
My d1 was 26mo when dd2 arrived... even though she was/is a very mature kiddo DH and I both agreed that she was too young to process the very high emotions of a birth room (she is very sensitive and emotional). And I really appreciated the chance to focus completely on dd2 in those first hours.
But if we have a third child and dd1 asked to be there I'd consider it (since she would be older, it would be her initiative). So I think a lot depends on the child and on how you want to give birth... older children can bring great joy to a birth or they can throw everything off! So plan for all different options and see what works in the moment, maybe?
My dd and ds were both at the birth of their sister in April (they were 6 and 4). I started labor after they went to bed and woke them up at 2AM when we headed to the hospital, so they missed all the early labor and just got the tail end and birth.
They were watched the birth up-close and personal and got to cut the cord (daddy got to catch the baby).
Because I didn't have a doula or helper with us, I just brought a whole bag just for them with sleeping bags, snacks, movies and games. They are old enough though to occupy themselves - if they were any younger I would have wanted someone there just for them. They were also old enough to understand that labor was going to be uncomfortable for me and I might make noises etc. I made sure they understood it though, very clearly before the birth day.
I wanted them to feel connected to their new sister and feel a part of her birth experience. It worked a little TOO well, I think
They call her "our" baby and try to mother her all the time! I have to fight to get to my own baby! LOL!
Overall I thought it was a great experience and the kids are fine with it. I think it gave them a realistic view of a birth. Though, my dd now says that adoption might be the best route for her when she becomes a mommy! LOL! I'm sure she'll change her mind though.
We're not pregnant yet, but I'm already thinking about this. My situation is a little bit different, because dd will be 11.5 or 12 by the time her first sibling gets birthed. But I asked her about it, and she's pretty darn certain she wants to be there.
I plan on having several people at the birth of this as-yet-uncreated baby. My dh, dd, bff, and dsister. Well, if the midwife can fit in the room, she can come, too
. We're going to do it at a birth center, most likely, because I want space to move around, and our house has small rooms and narrow halls. And they have another room, where the people attending the birth can go to eat, nap, hang out when mom kicks them out, etc. We're going to ask my sister to be dd's support person, and so if it gets too intense for dd, she can go watch tv or whatever in the other room. I don't know that that'll happen, though, because dd is very excited. I think, given the opportunity, she'd want to catch the baby, but I had to tell her that that's dh's job.
My son was 2.8 years when his little sister was born. We had a home birth and he watched the whole thing. He came to every one of my prenatal visits and we watched tons of birth videos together. We also had conversations daily about birth, how sometimes mommies might scream and yell, but that it was ok to yell and it was a happy time. I also let him know that if he didn't want to be there he could go to grandmas house anytime. He WANTED to be there and clapped and cheered as his sister was born! The whole time I was pushing he kept telling me "mommy I love you so much! Yay, my sister is coming!!!!!" and he kept kissing my cheek over and over.
It was by far the most special experience of my life, and I do feel it cut down on a lot of sibling rivalry! He is the sweetest most caring brother I have ever met.
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