This article is the last in a 7-part series on home birth. For more about home birth, check out the Pregnancy and Parenting Index.
Becoming an older sibling can be difficult for children as they adjust to their new roles and the necessarily divided attention of their parents. Birth can be a time to welcome the new baby, and allowing the sibling to be present at the birth can help to ease the transition. In a study of parents whose children were present at birth , certified nurse-midwife Christina Krutsky found that “the children’s presence added to a feeling of family unity.”
When a mother gives birth in the hospital, it can be traumatic for the siblings. Young children are typically not allowed to be present during labor and delivery. Additionally, the siblings are separated from their mother during the hospital stay. My daughter is accustomed to being with me most of the time, and she was still sleeping in our family bed when her brother was born. It could have been very difficult for my daughter had I given birth to her brother in a hospital rather than at home.
Although my daughter slept through my rather quick second labor, she woke up immediately after my son was born and was able to take part in welcoming her brother to the family. It was such a special moment when, at around 2am, we all sang “Happy Birthday” to her new little brother. At nearly three-years-old, my daughter was excited to be able to help by getting a hat for the baby and then watch as he was measured and weighed.
Birthing at home allows siblings to take part in welcoming the new baby to the family. In our society where birth is looked on with fear and negativity, having siblings present at home births can also be a great way to show children what a normal, natural occurrence birth can be.
1. “Siblings at birth: Impact on parents”, Krutsky, C., Journal of Nurse-Midwifery, September-October 1985, Volume 30, Issue 5, pp. 269-276.