In this episode of Taking Back Birth, Maryn talks about kids at birth using her experience with home birth as a mom and midwife. She shares stories and discusses many things to consider for your own family when exploring this topic.
For Maryn, birth is a part of life and she never considered not having her kids at their siblings’ births. In fact, at Deva’s birth in 2017, all seven of her kids plus a 12 year old friend were there!
It can also be stressful and suffocating to have kids around so each family needs to decide what will work best for them.
- House set up – consider size, privacy, bathrooms, etc.
- How involved you want your kids to be
- Personality type of each kid
- Nature of family and relationships
If you do want your kids there:
- Consider their age – are they under two and may need a dedicated caregiver so mom can focus?
- Show kids what birth looks like ahead of time
- Educate them with books, videos, and stories that you have checked out first
- Are there biases, opinions, etc. you or a family member may be passing on to the kids?
- Involve them in prenatal appointments in a way they are comfortable
- Don’t force them to be involved, touch, etc.
- Invite questions from kids
- Treat kids like they are a blank slate for birth
Ways to involve kids:
- Have them present for the labor with activities for them if needed
- Have them come in right when the baby is born
- Involve them in the postpartum time right after baby is born
If we had all grown up seeing birth it would be much more normal, and Maryn believes it’s time to change. People can feel worried their kids will be damaged or somehow affected negatively by birth. Maryn points out that sometimes we put adultness on kids, and it’s worth looking at how adults around your children may be putting their own opinions on them.
Maryn tells the story of a mom having her second baby, where the family decided to have their smart and precocious six year old leave for the birth. When Maryn arrived the mom was obviously holding back and waiting for the six year old to leave, as he was so curious and following her around asking questions. Maryn showed him her birth kit, and told him about when he was born and how she had used the same things then. The little boy was so happy to be involved in this unexpected way, went off happily when the time came, and soon after the baby was born. An hour or two later he returned to meet his sibling and was so thrilled. This worked for them!
Maryn talks about Deva’s birth, and what a gift it was to have all of her kids see Deva enter the world. She believes it’s possible that siblings are better bonded when they are present at each other’s births. She talks about True’s birth – her 6th – where grandparent’s arrived during Maryn’s labor and the kids left and missed the birth. Maryn was sad about this and felt like there was less of a seamless connection between siblings because of it. The older kids feel like they missed out.
What would it be like for older kids to be present at the birth of their siblings, Maryn wonders? Her 13 and 15 year old kids were there for the birth of Deva, and Maryn says that “birth is birth”, it’s normal, natural, and beautiful. It is not sexual, it’s very normal. Her kids will continue witnessing the birth of any siblings to come as well as watching their own birth videos.
In closing this episode Maryn says there is a lot to consider, and since emotions run high in pregnancy this can be a passionate topic! Ultimately though, it’s up to each family to decide what’s right for them.
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