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Would you have your children present at the birth of a sibling?

by Jennifer Muirhead (follow)
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Portrait of Lady Cockburn, Sir Joshua Reynolds
Portrait of Lady Cockburn and her three oldest sons by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1773

Would you want to have your children present to witness the birth of their younger brothers or sisters? Why or why not?

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My daughter (aged 2 and a half) was present for the birth of her baby brother. We planned to have someone here to look after her in case she needed to leave (because she was upset or bored or if I decided I didn't want her there) but as things panned out she was was watching Seasame Street right uptil I called her in just as he was born. She was very interested, though she thought (understandably) that the placenta was gross. While I don't know how much she will remember I hope it helps her to think of birth as just a part of life, not necessarily a huge emergency like it always seems to be on tv.

I think being there helped her bond with her baby brother and she has never seemed to be jealous of him the way some other kids are when their new siblings arrive. I think that has to do with the fact that his arrival was just a part of our family life, not me going away somewhere and coming back with a new baby.

Other families I know who had siblings present for their labours were quite happy with the experience too. Often the kids sleep through most of it and are just woken up to meet their new brother or sister.
It is a matter of personal choice, but for me, I wouldn't do it. I saw how upset that my sister got watching me in pain and I just feel that it would be too much for my daughter as she still quite young. I think at 4 years old they really do understand that people have feelings and although they still can have the tunnel view of life, I feel that my child would feel upset seeing me wailing in pain lol

Young children might find the screaming of their mother distressing if it is a particularly hard birth, in which case it might be best for them to wait outside. If, however, they are old enough not to get too upset by that, then I think it will help the child become closer to their sibling.
It depends how you labour. Not all women scream. I never did. It can help to talk about/demonstrate other noises you might make (grunting, moaning etc.) ahead of time and explain the reasons for them and maybe watch some birth videos. It also depens a bit on the age and maturity of the child.
It is a celebration. My oldest niece loved it when her little one was born. So exciting :)
I wouldn't want anyone else in the birthing room except my partner. It's a bit stressful knowing that others are watching you in pain and in a state that is not bringing out the best of you.
No puns intended.
I wouldn't incase the baby (or you) died - how traumatic would that be. I haemoraged really badly about an hour after I gave birth and the adults present were really distressed because there was blood all over the place (I was really out of it from lack of blood so didn't care) but I wouldn't want a kid to see that. I just think it's too out of your control to make that decision. That said, we know people who have done it, and their kids loved it.
No. Even animals get as far away from everyone and everything they can when birth is pending. Birth of a baby needs quiet, and the mothers concentration and the availability of the chance to zone INTO that trancelike state to give birth. Birth nowadays is somewhat a spectacle for anyone that wants to tune in. Even in caesarean sections which although it surrounds a natural function,is actually a surgical procedure. Mothers are entitled to give birth in an environment as close to natural as possible i.e. quiet, calm, relaxing and private - not worrying about the effect or behaviour of other people around them. Mothers should be totally and absolutely focused on the job.
I remember a friend telling me she didn't feel ready to give birth until her eldest daughter (who had been away at a friend's house or something) was home, she just didn't feel calm and relaxed until all her children were there. I guess it's different for different women. I was kind of oblivious to who was or wasn't there until the baby was out.
It never occurred to me not to have them there. I felt the need to keep them close, as it helped me relax. I did make sure that they had support though.
Definitely not! It's a situation that's not for children to see/hear.
In my circ, I had no choice anyway, as C-section=MAJOR Operation. End of story!

This modern trend of 'all in together this fine weather' is ridiculous.
There's a time, & a place for everything, & a birth is NOT the place for children.

Lol that last sentence strikes me as very ironic.

it's a place for newborns. Not a place for children, toddlers. IMO not a place for young teenagers (13-18).either Might put some off reproducing at all. It is all very well, once you are in love and wanting to procreate, but when courting - it can be a pretty off putting sight.
by fran.
Why is it ironic, Jennifer? You always make some 'wayout' statement, but you never qualify it.
by donjo
Fran, you put into words what I was going to write as well, when I entered my reply above. Thank you.
by donjo
Because there's always at least one child at a birth Donjo. It's a funny sentence at face value.

Having siblings at birth works well for some people, and the children I have talked to who were present at the birth of siblings were happy to have been included. Though if it did make a 13 year old think they might not want to rush into having a baby I would think that was a good thing.
If you mean the baby that is born, yes, of course. That's OBVIOUS, so why the stupid reply in first instance? 'Oneupmanship' on your part or do you just like to be a smart@&$/? Makes you 'feel' better, does it?
by donjo
It was a joke. You make them too.
Tone is hard to get across online, unfortunately. And I guess we don't always find the same things funny. I remember I had a question about nude beaches a while back and you posted that you'd never seen a clothed beach. At the time I found it slightly annoying because it didn't add anything to the discussion. Same thing here I suppose. Not everybody finds the same things funny.
Jennifer it would be a good thing if it put a 13 year old off having relationships that end up in a pregnancy. But it might not be a good thing if a 25 year old still remembered the birth and was still being put off. The end result of a pregnancy is a marvel.....that's the very end result, the trip getting to the end result can be very frightening and somewhat "off putting".
by fran.
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