Guidelines For Having Siblings
Present At Birth
Decision Making Process:
- » Family motivation: Whose idea is this?
- » Why do you want your child present at the birth?
- » What are your expectations for your child's experience?
- » What are your expectations for your experience of having your child present?
- » Is there someone who can support your child during the birth? Is this person prepared and willing to miss the birth if your child decides to leave the room during the birth? Can this person read your child's signals? Is this person comfortable explaining to your child what is going on during the birth?
- » Are you prepared to spend time preparing your child for the birth, to help your child with unforeseen circumstances or emergencies and to process the birth experience afterward?
- » Does the decision to include your child at the birth fit in with your family lifestyle? Has your child seen you nude before? Have you been open about sexuality and birth? Are you open about expression of emotion?
Preparing The Children:
- » Include your child in the pregnancy, prenatal visits, and preparations for the baby.
- » Talk openly and regularly about bodies, sexuality, and babies at a level appropriate for you child.
- » Tell your child about his/her own birth.
- » Attend sibling preparation classes; meet the practitioners who will be attending the birth. Read books, watch videos, look at pictures and color photographs.
- » Make sure your child is familiar with the sights and sounds of birth: amniotic fluid, blood, umbilical cord, placenta, birthing positions, facial expressions, birthing sounds, and what the baby will look like including blood, vernix, and wetness.
- » Let your child practice sounds and breathing with you.
- » Talk about all the hard work mom will do and how the work may hurt: use examples of times your child has worked hard straining and pushing.
- » Explain the roles of other people who will be at the birth.
- » Talk about the child's support person.
- » Talk about special jobs your child can have at the birth: giving ice chips, rubbing mom's back, putting the first blanket on the baby, cutting the cord, calling out the gender of the baby and taking pictures.
- » You must have an open door policy so that your child can feel free to come and go as she/he pleases. Make sure your child knows that it is okay with you if she/he leaves the room. This is one way a child will regulate the intensity of the experience for her/himself. Finally, you must be comfortable with the possibility that your child will choose to miss the birth.
- » Anticipate your child's concerns and address them.
- » Talk regularly with your partner in order to keep your own fears and concerns separate from your child's.
- » Be sure to have an alternate plan in case your child changes hie/her mind about attending the birth and in case of emergency. There are no guarantees in the birth process despite the best-laid plans and preparations. In the event that emergency intervention is necessary, your child's support person should be prepared to help him/her to understand what is happening until you are available later. With proper and consistent support and understanding, children can cope with unforeseen circumstances.
- » Review the events of the birth and answer any questions your child may have about what took place at the birth.
- » Get a sense of what your child felt and thought about the birth.
- » Ask your child questions to elicit confusions and as a way of letting your child know you are willing to discuss the birth events.
- » Be sure to find appropriate ways for your child to interact with and be involved with the baby.