If you are planning to have your children present when you give birth, there are many things you can do to help them prepare for the experience. Knowing what to expect and being well versed in the normal sights and sounds of birth will be reassuring to your child. Using matter of fact, correct terminology that is geared towards your child’s age and level of understanding is important, and when they start to feel familiar with the words and processes, their confidence will grow.
- Watch birth videos with your child. Many children will ask to watch these videos again and again as they get comfortable with the idea of their own sibling’s birth.
- Be ready and willing to answer any questions they may ask about how babies are made and how they are born.
- Children are perceptive and they pick up on our unspoken feelings about things we discuss with them. If you are confident and comfortable about giving birth, they will feel that!
- Practice with them. Make birth noises together. Play with labor tools like a birth ball and rice socks.
- Even the tiniest kids like to feel useful and important. Come up with an age appropriate job for them to do while you’re in labor. They can be in charge of making sure your water bottle is full or bringing you items you may ask for, picking out their new sibling’s first outfit, or helping with the filling of the birth tub.
- If you have multiple options for the role of their support person, ask for their input about who they would like to be with them from the available choices.
Be flexible in your expectations of what your child’s involvement in the birth process will be. Sometimes you will both have an idea of what this will look like until labor is actually in progress, and then one of you will change your mind. This is totally OK! One of the gifts that birth gives us is the realization that change and flexibility are necessary in life. Sometimes deviations from the plan can be more perfect than anything we ever could have come up with in advance.