One of the many perks to a planned home birth is complete control over who’s there to experience your baby’s debut into the world.  Unlike in a hospital or birth center, there’s no policies to abide by when it comes to how many people are in the room or their ages.

This brings up the unique and special option of having your other children present for your home birth.  While this is a question you should spend some time thinking about, many children handle spectating home birth like a champ! Especially with the right discussions and preparations ahead of time.

So, if you like the idea of having your other children attend your home birth, we say, go for it!

You can prepare your children for home birth by talking about what to expect from a home birth, watching home birth videos, reading age appropriate books about home birth, enlisting the help of a caregiver that’s there just for the children, and ultimately respecting your child’s decision to stay for the birth or step away.

Read on for 12 specific ways you can prepare your child for the experience of birth.  Having other children present for the arrival of their new brother or sister is an amazing experience for many families, and you can have this, too.

Before preparing your children for your home birth…

Hopefully, you are thinking about having your children present at the birth with at least a few weeks to spare.  While not entirely necessary, having time for you and your children to prepare mentally and process what it will be like to attend their sibling’s birth is beneficial.

It’s also important to be certain of your decision before you start talking to your children about the idea.  You don’t want to approach the subject feeling wishy-washy and ultimately change your mind.  This would be especially true if they’re excited about the experience.

Ask yourself, am I sure I want my children at my home birth?

As you ponder this question, be sure to think about your specific children, their personalities and needs. 

Some questions to consider when making your decision about having your children at your home birth include:

  • How old are my children?
  • Will they be interested in birth?
  • How do my children handle being around me, but in the care of another adult?
  • Will my children be able to respect my space and needs during labor? Is this important to me?
  • How might my children react to seeing me in labor? What preparations can help make it positive for everyone? (see the tips below!)
  • How do my children tend to handle intense experiences?
  • What do I perceive as pros to having my children at the birth?
  • What do I perceive as possible cons to having my children at the birth?
  • Will my decision change based on the time of day or circumstances of the labor or birth?
  • Am I okay with giving my children the final decision in the matter?

Discuss this decision with your partner

As the birthing momma, you are the one calling most of the shots during your home birth. But including your partner in the planning and preparing is crucial.  Your partner is a key player in your birth experience, despite the know-how and expertise of others on your birth team, no one knows you like your partner. 

Including him in the decisions leading up to your home birth is one of the best ways to prepare him to support you. The decision to have your children present at your home birth (or not) isn’t one to make without him. 

Be prepared to respect his wishes, too

No matter how important it is to you and how confident you feel with the idea, if it will rock his confidence or make him feel uncomfortable, his feelings need to be weighted, too.  His role in supporting you is monumental and having him comfortable with everyone present at the birth is important. 

So, if that means he is inherently against having the other kids around, you might need to consider it a no go.  However, if you two fall on opposite sides of the fence here, share the ways of preparing your children with him and see if it changes his mind. 

You can also share the home birth stories of others whose older children were present to show him it’s not as crazy as he thinks.

Arrange a caregiver for your child(ren) for during your home birth

One tip must-follow piece of advice is to arrange a caregiver dedicated just to your children.  This person shouldn’t have any expectation of viewing the birth themselves and should be 100% focused on your other kids.

In fact, many home birth midwives require this if you elect to have your children present. Which brings up the point that this is something to run by your midwife before the day of the birth. 

Most home birth midwives are very receptive to other children and family members being present, but it’s best to avoid an awkward encounter by asking ahead of time.

12 Ways to Prepare your Children for your Home birth

Alright, momma, by now you’ve dug into your own feelings on the matter, got your partner on board, and the okay from your midwife to have the other little(s) present for your home birth.  Let’s talk strategy on getting them prepared!

With these 12 tips, your children will know what to expect during the birth, understand their expected behavior, and be totally excited about the big arrival of their new sibling.

1. Tell them their birth stories

There’s no better place to start than with the story of their own births.  I know my two-year-old loves to hear about when she was “in my belly”, and how she wanted to nurse minutes after she was born.  Sometimes she even brings it up on her own, “Momma talk about when I was in your belly!”.

I share this, because even the littlest listeners will love to hear an age-appropriate story of their birth. Sharing ultrasound pictures, pictures from your labor with them, and pictures taken in the first few hours after their birth can enhance the story and help them visualize it.

Hearing their own birth stories will get them excited about being a part of their sibling’s story 😊

2. Explain what home birth is and why it’s important to you

Maybe you had a home birth with your first, but maybe you didn’t.  If you did, in hearing their own birth story they’ll already understand what it means to birth at home.  If this is your first home birth, talk to them about what that means and why you are excited about it.  Describe where you will be in the home and what might look different in the house.

Share the timeline of home birth with them, let them know who will be coming to help with the birth, and what the midwife will do during labor and delivery.  Hopefully your child will have had many opportunities to meet your midwife prior to the birth.  This creates a sense of comfort and trust in the person that will be supporting you in what might appear as difficult or painful experience to your child.

3. Read children’s books about home birth

Books are such a powerful tool when it comes to teaching our children.  Children’s books on family topics are often written with great care and in terms that they can understand.  Utilizing children’s books to prepare your child for the home birth shouldn’t be skipped.

I bet your child has books they want to read repeatedly. The repetition helps them process the ideas and know what to expect.  The other reason children’s books are excellent is because you can pick one that is appropriate for their age range.

Some of the best children’s books about home birth are:

I recommend using the books as a storytelling tool that you can customize for your child and needs.  Use the pictures to spark conversation and questions.  Change the words to fit your expected birth experience and scenario.

Once you’ve told the story a few times, reverse roles and let your child tell the story of birth to you.  This can be an eye-opening way of learning what your child is thinking and how they are feeling about the birth.

This article has more information and in-depth reviews of books about birth, home birth and waterbirth for children.

4. Talk about what momma will look and sound like in home birth

Birth is an intense and sensory experience for everyone involved.  It’s important that your child has an idea of what you will look, and sound like during birth.  I really like how this article recommends introducing your children to the idea of “good blood” and “good pain”.

You will likely be making a lot of noise during your labor.  Let your kids know what you will sound like, but that it is okay.  Help them connect with the experience by talking about good pain. Some examples might include shots at the doctor, or frustration or soreness associated with a physical accomplishment.

Let your child know what things you might be doing during labor such as bouncing on a ball, being in water, standing over the bed, being massaged, etc.  You should also set an expectation that you might not be wearing clothes especially if this might surprise your child.

5. Look at photographs of home births

Real photographs of home births are another great tool for preparing your children.  The pictures can be used to tell a story, ask and answer questions and spark conversation about the upcoming event.  Seeing photographs of real women and talking about the feelings on their faces will be a big help.

6. Watch home birth videos together

For the same reason, videos can be another good resource.  Be sure to preview home birth videos before sharing them with your child.  A video gives a more accurate idea of the noises and energy that might be associated with a home birth.

7. Ask your child if they want to be at the birth

After you’ve gone through some of these preparations, ask your child directly what they want.  It’s important to respect their decision.  While it’s not helpful to reiterate the question and choice every day leading up to the birth, it is a good idea to check-in periodically about their feelings on the topic.

8. Let your child know they can always change their mind

Always let your child know that this is a choice and can be changed at any moment.  This is why you will have a caregiver just for them.  They can come in and out of the birth, or choose to leave completely.

9. Prepare your child for a possible role in the birth

Because your home birth will be a family-centered event, you might consider an older child having a role in the birth.  Some older siblings have caught the baby or cut the umbilical cord. 

You can also let your child know ways they can support you in labor like by rubbing you back, putting on music, holding your hand, or telling you that they love you.

10. Make sure your child understands that you won’t be fully available to them

You’ll want to make sure this is explicitly discussed.  Younger children especially may not be able to infer in the moment that you are unavailable to them.  Help them understand ahead of time who is there for them, and why you won’t be fully available.

11. Discuss what life with a newborn sibling will be like

In addition to talking about the actual labor and birth, you should spend time talking about what it will be like to have a newborn around.  Some of the book titles mentioned above can help with this as well.

Let them know that you will need lots of rest after birth and that baby will be breastfeeding a lot.  Make sure they know that you are still their momma, too.

12. Talk about ways they can help with their new sibling

Lastly, help them envision their new role as a sibling by talking about ways they can help.  You can include them in the brainstorming and give them ideas.  Naturally, you will tailor this conversation to your child’s age and ability.

Hooray for a new sibling!

As your home birth approaches, use these 12 tips to get your child prepared for the big day. Keep conversations positive and flowing.  Allow your child lots of opportunities to ask questions, tell the story of birth how they perceive it, and share what they are excited about.

Remember that your child may change their mind during your labor and to respect their ultimate decision.  The arrival of a new sibling is an exciting event for every child, and they are going to have wonderful memories of this special day.

Have you had other children at your births? Is there a specific aspect of having your children present that concerns you?  Chime in below! We love to hear from our readers.

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