Families who are planning to birth at home or in birth centers that welcome the entire family to be a part of the process oftentimes ask if children belong at births. The answer to this question can be yes, no, and maybe.
When deciding whether or not to have your child present while you are giving birth, ask yourself a few questions. First of all, you know your child better than anyone. What is there temperament and personality? Does it seem likely that they will enjoy the process, be bored out of their minds, or terrified if you are dealing with intense sensations? Do you have a support person lined up for your child? Do you imagine that you will be glad they are present, or potentially too distracted and/or upset that you aren’t in a position to hold them if they are crying for you while you are pushing?
It is a highly personal decision, and there is no one right or wrong way. If you are feeling external pressure from birth professionals or well-meaning family and friends, try to tune out that background noise and tune in to your gut. You know your child better than anyone else. Just as importantly, you know yourself!
As a mama who has given birth with two of her children in the home, as well as a care provider who has assisted many, many families whose children were present for births, what I have witnessed is that almost all children either enjoy being present or are bored and glad to have someone to take them in the other room or out of the house to play at various points. Out of dozens upon dozens of children of all ages, I have only seen two who were frightened or upset. In one of those cases, the child had a support person who was able to take her out, and she had fully recovered by the time the baby was two minutes old. In the other case there was no support person just for the child, and she was upset about the experience for weeks.
Remember that every family’s needs and desires surrounding birth will be different. Part of the beauty of being human is that we are so diverse and adaptable. An attitude of flexibility and welcoming each person’s needs to be a part of the big picture will never steer you wrong.