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Siblings At a Homebirth - A Parents' Guide

Easy Steps to a Safer Pregnancy - View e-book or Download PDF - FREE!
An interactive resource for moms on easy steps they can take to reduce exposure to chemical toxins during pregnancy.

Other excellent resources about avoiding toxins during pregnancy

These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.

Compiled by Sheryl Wright using internet resources

Originally appeared in the newsletter of the Waikato Home Birth Association

First posted to the HomeBirthingParents List

I thought it would be good to include in the magazine an article on having older siblings at a homebirth, especially as with the homebirth option many parents today are considering or planning this, but I was unable to find a specific article, just a lot of references, so I decided I’d have just have to put them all together and write one myself.....

Things to consider: Firstly the most important thing to consider is the willingness / desire of the child to attend.  It is also very important to acknowledge the child's rights to decide at any time that they don’t want to see the birth. Some children are very excited about it beforehand, and change their mind at the time, and vice versa. It could be traumatic to make a child watch a birth that they don't want to.  Secondly how do you feel about having your children there?   It’s important that this is your decision and others do not convince you that this would be a good idea. Some women just can’t imagine not having them there to share such a special event, whereas others do not want the distraction of having them (or anyone else) present.   Be prepared to play it by ear and be open to changing your mind.

Some advantages are that watching the birth of a sibling is a great bonding experience for siblings and can help reduce rivalry - and its wonderful early sex education for kids, hard evidence that birth happens or should happen in the context of a loving family.  Many women find that having children there “grounds them” and gives them something else to thing about during labour.

Some other points to consider are:

If labour begins at night do you want to wake them?  With younger children it may be best to not wake them until well into labour.

If a transfer to hospital becomes necessary, do you want the kids to accompany you?  Some children may be frightened by the change of location, huge weird beeping machines, procedures (eg episiotomy), unfamiliar hospital staffs and the concern they can sense.  Make sure they are prepared for this, or if they are not going to come, make sure there is someone to stay with them and answer any concerns they have and to make sure they do not feel deserted.


Once the decision has been made to include them the next step is to make sure they are fully prepared.  Here is a list of ideas:

Remember the senses:

Caregiver for the Child:

It is important to have a Caregiver for EACH child so that the birthing mothers support people are not distracted or involved in caring for the child’s needs.  Choose your support person carefully - they must be fully supportive of your choice and not easily freaked out - kids will pick up the moods and negative energy of those around them.  If no one in your family is suitable remember there are many aspiring childbirth educators, midwives etc who are very eager for the opportunity to observe ANY homebirth.  Also another woman considering the homebirth option may see this as a wonderful opportunity to see first hand what it ’s all about.

However the Caregiver must be committed to staying or leaving - whatever the child expresses a desire to do. So if you think they might try to influence your child to stay so they can see the birth, choose someone else.  Make sure the children have plenty of time before the birth to become comfortable with the Caregiver and that the Caregiver knows all of the child’s routines and preferences and where things in your house are.

Keeping Kids occupied During the Birth:

Especially with smaller children it’s important to have plenty for the child to do, as they really don't understand why birth takes so long. Here are some suggestions:

Roles in the Birth:

Allow each child to participate at its own comfort level.  Maybe assign their own special "birth helper" job  eg announcing the sex, cutting the cord, helping weigh and measure the baby, cutting the birthday cake, announcing the new arrival to everyone who arrives after the birth or making some announcement phone calls etc.

Some Personal Accounts:

My Own Experience:

I asked Dylan (5yrs) what happened when Celina was born (he was 4 ½ at the time) and this is what he told me:

“Granny made Shaun and me scrambled eggs for dinner.  There was a pool there too but we didn’t get the baby born in it though cause we didn’t want to that day.  Rose helped us to get the baby Celina out of our tummy. Mummy pushed her out of her tummy so hard and I went outside with Grandad looking at things and then Grandma came and said Celina is born so we went inside and saw her and she screamed and screamed and I had a cuddle with her and that was good and it was a girl and then me and Shaun went to bed and then the other people had dinner.  In the morning we woke up and I came into my Mum’s room and I said “where is Celina” and Mummy said she is in her bassinette so I went there very very quietly and I saw her fast asleep and she was very tiny not like she is now. “

I asked Shaun who was just 2 at the time and he started to tell me about something that happened yesterday :-)

This Web page is referenced from another page containing related information about Parents Share Information About Homebirth


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