If you are considering having your child attend your second birth, here are a few tips to improve the experience.
- Arrange to have someone on site dedicated to looking after your older child.
He will need full time care from a loving and trusted adult who is able to stay with him, and attend to his needs, throughout the entire labour and birth.
- Prepare your child. Read books about birth. Watch films about birth (youtube has many). Discuss the sounds and faces mom might make ahead of time so they don’t seem alarming to your child.
- Allow your child to come and go as she feels comfortable. Don’t expect she’ll necessarily stay to watch—she might, or she might not want to.
- Have a job or two that your child can do. Whether it’s massaging mom’s hands, or pouring water over mom’s shoulders (if you’re in a tub or pool), or fanning mom’s face, some children enjoy having a focus, and being able to help.
- Have a back-up plan. Some moms find the presence of their older child too distracting, which can interfere with oxytocin production and effective labouring. Some children find witnessing the labour distressing, which can upset and alarm them. Have a strategy in place for either of these possibilities, such as a book, movie or excursion lined up for the child. It is important that the child feels invited to participate in something else, rather than excluded from her mother’s presence. So try to plan something you know the child would be excited to do instead, whether it’s a rare and special treat, or a familiar and favourite activity
- Keep your expectations open and flexible. Like any aspect of birth, we don’t know how things will go until we’re there, so having an open mind and open heart is essential.