Kids in the Birthing Room
One of the trickier decisions leading up to the birth of a second baby is whether or not to have the older sibling present for the birth of the new addition. The idea can be both exciting and intimidating, but here are four ways to frame your decision-making process to arrive at the right solution for your family.
1. Know Your Child(ren)
Think about your child's personality in daily life. Is she a self-soother, or more needy? Is he enthralled with the idea of his baby sibling, or disinterested? Some children are more compatible with the birth environment than others. A child that will be grappling for your attention during labor might want to sit the process out, as you will be quite unavailable. Think of their usual reaction when you are in pain as well, are they more alarmed or more compassionate? Try to gauge whether the experience will be more fascinating or disturbing for the soon-to-be older sibling.
2. Know Yourself
The prospect of having your child witness the birth of his/her baby sibling is a heartwarming one. Children at births can be cuddly, cute, encouraging and full of wonder. Try to imagine what your last birth would be like, were your child already present. Do you picture yourself delighted, or annoyed? If your laboring style is tolerant of your child's usual behavior, and the ultimate labor support for you is a mid-contraction forehead kiss from your firstborn, consider inviting them.
3. Team Up
Kids do best at birth when there is a dedicated support person who is exclusively in charge of attending to the child(ren) present, making sure their needs are met and whisking them away when mommy needs a break. If you want to try allowing your child to attend the birth, make sure this person is someone familiar to him/her, competent and good with kids, and doesn't feel strongly about attending the birth(don't make this person your partner or doula) in case the child ends up wanting to leave the room.
4. Follow Your Heart, but Stay Flexible
If you feel deep down that you might regret not allowing your child to attend the birth, it is important that you plan to make that an option to them. Kids at a birth are usually a transient presence, popping in and out whenever they see fit. Don't allow yourself to become too attached to their presence. A previously excited child might be intimidated, a previously indifferent child may become entranced with the excitement of the baby's arrival. It could be something as simple as them needing to use the bathroom right as the baby is crowning, that keeps them from being there at "THE MOMENT" but remember that they have a whole golden hour after the birth, an entire childhood to share and a lifetime to love one another.