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Siblings Present at Homebirth

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#1 Genabee

Posted 11 December 2015 - 10:07 PM

Hi all,

Thought I would start a fresh thread as anything on this topic seems to be a couple of years old...

We are planning a home birth for our second, due in June.

DH is quite keen to have DD (who will just be 5 at the time) present at the birth. I am not adverse to it, but don't want to traumatise my daughter for life either!

DD herself is super excited about being a big sister and is keen to be a part of all the action. We talk about it almost daily and we have started showing her footage of babies being born, in particular, home births. At the moment, she thinks she is going to keep getting me drinks and play 'eye spy' with me to "calm me down". :rofl:

We have already spoken to my Mum and she is going to be there, primarily as a support to DD - so if it all gets a bit too much for her, she can take her away or explain to her what is happening.

My question for fellow homebirthers is, were your older children present? Was their presence planned or was it just how things unfolded? How did they cope with it? Did you wake your children up (if you were birthing in the night) or keep them home from school/pick them up early?

Any advice you can share would be most welcome. :)

Edited by Genabee, 11 December 2015 - 10:55 PM.

#2 JustMyGirl

Posted 11 December 2015 - 10:16 PM

Not from personal experience but my mum was in the next room from where her brother was being born. She was 6 and quite frightened by what she heard. I suspect though that nothing was explained to her prior or during. Sounds like you're doing the prep though. Not that my opinion matters here since you asked for people who have done it but I can't imagine having a 5 year old there.

#3 Chazee

Posted 11 December 2015 - 10:39 PM

For home birth #1, my 4.5 year old and 2yr11m old were present. I laboured in the morning, so they had breakfast and watched cartoons while wondering in and out. They came in when they heard things getting a little more intense and were very very excited to see their sister being born. Life went on as normal within 5 minutes, except for the extra task of doting on their new sibling!!

Home birth #2 happened over night. We woke DD1 up, who was almost 7 years old. We left the other 2 sleeping. Things were progressing slower than we thought, and DD was getting a little bored, asking 'how much longer'. lol.

No traumatised kids in our home. :)

#4 TheFirstNoel

Posted 11 December 2015 - 10:48 PM

My 4th was born at home. My olders were 8, 6 & 3. During the pregnancy I wasn't sure either way what I would prefer. Actually, my dream was to labour during the night so they'd wake to their new siblings!
We decided to play it by ear and made sure to have someone on call.

In the end we decided to not have them there, gut instinct. I'm glad for that decision, labour ended up being posterior, twice as long and 10x more painful than I anticipated. I struggled with the pain and I'm glad that they weren't around to worry. My mil brought DD (oldest) around straight after and DD was pretty upset seeing me like that (nothing gruesome, just spent) I think another hour or two would have been better for her. She's not especially sensitive so it surprised me a little.

It sounds like you're doing all the right things, having a support person and preparing her. Just trust your and your husband's instincts as the pregnancy and labour progresses.

Congratulations and good luck!

Eta, I loved my homebirth! Just in case I sounded negative there! It was hard but so worth it.

Edited by leisamd, 11 December 2015 - 10:50 PM.

#5 GlitterFarts

Posted 11 December 2015 - 11:30 PM

My almost 4yr old was present for my first HB and loved it! We did tons of prep - there are a few really good kids books out there about home births which we got and read heaps. We also youtubed heaps of births and explained the different types of births and vocalizations.
My second home birth was a bit traumatic as it went really fast and ended up being a transfer, but we had prepped for transfers as well. It would have gone easier if my support people had gotten  there quicker I think. It was barely a year on and they couldnt remember most of it lol!

#6 Franny and Zooey

Posted 11 December 2015 - 11:36 PM

My home birth the older two were next door and came back just as bubs was being born. Years on, my eldest explained it all to the class in sex ed, "sorry guys I have seen it all already, so don't need this class".

#7 GlitterFarts

Posted 11 December 2015 - 11:38 PM


#8 osmund

Posted 12 December 2015 - 04:40 AM

I had a HB for my second. My DS was 5yo at the time, he said he didn't want to be there for the birth. However, we did still prep him about how it would be just in case he was there. So we read stories about it and I told him I might sound and behave. He was horrified when I pretended to shout and push. :huh:

So I organised my mum to be his support person and the plan was she would take him to her house as soon I went into labour.

However I went to labour at midnight, support people (including mum, sister and midwife) turned up at 1am. My mum sat in DS's room who didn't wake at all during the whole labour including lots of shouting.

It was all over in a couple of hours, DS slept through the whole thing (but my mum was pleased she saw the new baby straight away). Then we went (back?) to bed at 5am and DS woke up at 7am to a new baby brother. He had no idea what happened that night!

#9 PhillipaCrawford

Posted 12 December 2015 - 05:27 AM

I had 2 home away from homebirths - birth centre not attached to a hospital, and I was the only woman there for No's 2 & 3.

Our son arrived shortly after DD1's birth, he was almost 4 and a super fast labour meant my mum didn't wake him up from his nap quickly enough. He was there however to witness me getting out of the bright red birthing pool with blood pouring down my legs courtesy of a partially separated  placenta - I remember saying "It's OK darling  ladies do have blood after the baby comes out".  He then sat with my mum and new baby in the corner of the room while the placenta was manually removed. Not fun for me but he was completely unfussed.
I am not a screamer and am quite calm in a crisis and the DR and midwife were also calm, so he, despite being a worrier was quite OK about it all. He stressed more when he wasn't involved than when he was. Afterwards all he was interested in was the baby.

Both he and DD1 were there 6 years later when DD2 was born in a completely uncomplicated delivery.

I think it natural to have children involved. As long as they have a support person and don't feel under any pressure to stay if it is not something they can handle. It is also important you remain comfortable with them being there too.

#10 HighlandPinky

Posted 12 December 2015 - 05:39 AM

My 5th and 6th babies are home births,  and some of my children were there at both.

DH 4 was born at about 8pm.  Dd1 and ds3 are both in bed,  but ds1 & ds2 are awake and watching.   They were 4 and 5 years old.

When dd2 was born,  all 5 kids were there.   She was born at 9am, so the kids just woke up and went about their morning business,  then when it was time,  they gathered around to watch their sister born.   They were 6, 5, 4, 2.5 and 18 months.

They all coped really well,  just like it was another day.   I don't tend to be too noisy during birth,  though.   And I'm able to hold a conversation until i start pushing.

#11 deejie

Posted 14 December 2015 - 09:36 AM

Two of my three boys were born at home. My oldest was 5 when our youngest was born. He was very keen to be involved and to watch.

Me, on the other hand, I was very hesitant. I wasn't sure if I could get in the "zone" with him in the room, because I would be very self conscious of doing things that scared him, or distressed him. I'm not a screamer by any means, but no matter how many birth videos he watched, I just wasn't confident that he would be okay with seeing HIS Mum like that. Your gut feelings on the matter are important. For me, having my space where I felt comfortable was the whole point of birthing at home. In the end, we told him that he could stay in the house and meet his little brother/sister as soon as they were born, but Mummy needed peace and quiet in the bedroom. He was accepting, but grumpy! :)

In the end, his little brother was born in the middle of the night after a speedy labour and our two older boys met him when they woke up in the morning. I'm glad of that-- I don't think I would have ever have gotten him back to bed and all I wanted to do afterwards was cuddle our baby and go to sleep!

#12 born.a.girl

Posted 14 December 2015 - 10:03 AM

View PostHarperLeeAndMe, on 11 December 2015 - 11:36 PM, said:

My home birth the older two were next door and came back just as bubs was being born. Years on, my eldest explained it all to the class in sex ed, "sorry guys I have seen it all already, so don't need this class".

That's a 21st anecdote, for sure. :)

#13 feralisles

Posted 14 December 2015 - 10:36 AM

Our DD1 was 5.5 when we had her sister at home.  Like you, I had shown her birthing videos and talked about what might happen.   We gave her the choice of whether she would like to be there - she wasn't sure, and seemed a bit anxious about it all.  In the end her sister was born during the night, so we didn't wake her until it was over.  How she managed to sleep through the noise beats me though!

I think you are doing the right thing in making sure your child is as prepared as possible, and that she has someone to care for her on the day if needed.   You won't know for sure how the birth will go or how she will cope, so you need a contingency plan to cover all possibilities.  Your DD needs the option of leaving if it is too overwhelming (or too boring) for her.

You will no doubt get some negative comments - we certainly did.  Lots of people will regard your choices as weird, but of course in many cultures birthing at home with the family around is normal.

#14 Hausos

Posted 14 December 2015 - 10:33 PM

We watched lots of homebirth videos with my eldest and she happily supported me during the birth of our second. She was 4 at the time. I laboured all night and into late morning so we didn't wake her up - she just woke at normal time. If things were getting close and she was still asleep I would have woken her.

My mum supported my DD and they went and made food for after the birth to pass the time. She was not at all fazed by the birth and was really involved.

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