“Birth Time” was created by Diane Schmidt for your children to print and color.

“When it was time to push, my husband and my mother each held one of my hands. My 3-yearold daughter Selby danced near my feet with a wide smile on her face, clapping her hands and cheering me on. ‘You’re so strong mommy,’ she said. I smiled through the pain and knew I was, in fact, very strong.” –Elizabeth Sniegocki, mother of two babies born at home with Rosemary midwives

Rosemary Birthing Home honors each and every member of a birthing family. Mommy and Daddy may not be the only ones that have questions about childbirth; older siblings are often just as excited, curious, and, once in a while, a bit uneasy about their upcoming addition. While the decision to include an older sibling at a birth is a very personal one, many of our families find that sharing the experience fosters a loving relationship and greatly enriches a child’s perspective. From your very first prenatal visit through the early days of your newly shaped family, the Rosemary philosophy of eliminating fear through knowledge is extended to even the youngest of family members.

Here is one of our favorite childbirth education videos, from the perspective of a big brother in waiting:

Here is a Rosemary Birthing Home attended home water birth. Watch through to the end. The children attending are so sweet.

Here are some gentle ways to include your baby’s big brother or sister in every step of the birth process.

  1. Bring your child to your prenatal appointments. The Rosemary Birthing Home midwives will include him or her in the exciting moments of pregnancy: listening to the baby’s heartbeat, measuring Mommy’s belly, and showing exactly where the baby is positioned. Your older child may ask questions of our midwives, play in our common room, read books in our lending library or feed the koi fish in our garden.  By the time The Big Day arrives, your big kid will be at ease with the midwives, the process, and what to expect during the birth.
  2. Many parents find it helpful to have an extended family member or friend available to be with the older sibling during the birth, should the need arise.  Some couples also find that spending early labor alone is productive, and they welcome the older sibling home for the moment of arrival. And, very rarely, an older child may choose not to be present at all. Talk to your child about the birth experience, and together, you will know what is right for your family.
  3. Do some role playing with dolls, etc. to show your child what having a baby will look like. You can have fun by making some of the noises you have learned in childbirth education class.
  4. When the baby is born, schedule some special outings for the new big brother or sister and a loved one. These adventures will make your older child feel special while giving you and your partner some time to focus on each other, and on your new baby.
  5. Tell your older child his or her birth story. You can focus on the feelings you had when he or she was born, and how happy you were to meet him for the first time. And for children old enough to understand that their birth happened in the past and you’re simply recounting it, a detailed but positive birth story might be just the thing they need to see that every birth is special.

When talking about pregnancy and childbirth with your child, it is important to take their age into account. Young toddlers might only understand the basics, preschoolers may be fascinated but not understand the details, and many older children will appreciate for advanced discussion and candid talk. There are many books available to help your child visualize what life might be like with a new baby. Here are some of our favorites:

Very few mainstream television shows or movies show childbirth in a positive light, and internet birth videos vary in outcomes and helpfulness.  Here are some gentle birth videos that you and your child can watch together.

Some mothers highly recommend watching animal birthing videos with their older children. Animals tend to be very quiet and matter-of-fact about birthing; they illustrate that birth is normal for all mammals. Here are some of our favorite animal birthing videos online:

For additional resources on older siblings at birth, please visit PhD in Parenting’s series on preparing for a second baby.

This image was created by Diane Schmidt for your children to print and color.

This image was created by Diane Schmidt for your children to print and color.

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