Something that often comes up for seasoned moms who are planning their home birth is "What do I do with my older kids?"
Instantly people have this image of their children seeing them working hard at their birth and making some strong sounds and are so scared they will terrify their child. This is a totally normal thought to have. After all, for most of us, seeing someone give birth was NOT part of our childhood - so it is hard to imagine what it would be like to be part of our kids life.
Here are some tips to help get your children ready to welcome their new baby at home with you:
1. Watch Videos and Read Books
It is very important that you educate your children on what normal birth sounds are and what sort of things they can expect from a birth. A great way of doing this is through reading books and watching videos.
Here is some recommended reading:
We're Having a Homebirth by Kelly Mochel
Hello Baby by Julie Overhand
Our Water Baby by Amy MacLean
Check out our YouTube Playlist for terrific home birth videos
2. Get Your Child Involved with Your Pregnancy and Preparing for Your Birth
A great way for your child to get excited and feel comfortable with the upcoming birth is by keeping them involved as possible. You can bring your child along to a few midwife appointments where they can hear baby's heartbeat - which is super exciting for every body! You can also ask your midwife if she would be open to showing your child some of the things she may bring to your home so that he feels prepared.
For our clients with younger kids, we do offer to have them present at prenatal #2 which is when we go over the physical comfort techniques. In this prenatal, we will make some of the sounds that you may be making during your labour so that your children become aware that these are healthy noises you are making. We can also do a bit of role playing and show them ways they can help support mama (dependent on age of the child of course) and give them some ideas of nice things they can say during the birth. It is really important for us to not just get to know you and your partner, but also your children. We want them to feel comfortable enough with us that when we arrive at your home for your birth, they will know mama is in good hands and if needed, we will be able to support them too!
Another easy way for them to get involved is preparing the birth supplies!
3. Share the Story of Their Birth
We all love to hear the story of our birth. It is after all, where we began! Share with them the story of their birth and let them know how excited you are to have them be a part of the story for the new baby.
4. Have A Dedicated Support Person
On the day of the birth it is will be a very good idea to have a dedicated support person whose only concern is for your older children. Most children are great at self-regulating. If they are feeling uncomfortable with what is going on, they will leave the room. It is important to have someone whom they trust and have a good relationship with be there for when the child does not want to be present. Some kids are perfectly happy hanging out in the birth pool the whole time and others would prefer to leave the house all together. Be ready for any scenario.
Often the older children may want their co-parent to be with them. This can be hard if the co-parent is the only support person for mom - which is another great idea to have a doula present. That way if your partner needs to tend to your older children, you will still be well supported by your doula.
5. Have Your Camera Ready (Or Better Yet, Hire a Birth Photographer!)
This is a moment that not only you, but your child will cherish forever. Make sure you have someone ready to snap some shots of the support your child is giving you during your birth, and most especially, the moment they meet their new baby sibling.
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Samantha Garcia Gagnon is a birth worker in Pitt Meadows, British Columbia. She has a special focus on supporting physiologic home births and shares her years of experience and knowledge in this blog.
Proudly supporting home birthing families in Pitt Meadows, Maple Ridge, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam. Port Moody, Langley,
Surrey and New Westminster.
Filled with gratitude to be living and working in the unceded and ancestral home of the Katzie, Kwikwetlem, Matsqui, Kwantlen, and
Semiahmoo First Nations.