A Positive Support Network
"At the beginning of the pregnancy we just really weren't sure if we wanted anyone except for us to be present [at the birth]," says Ingrid. Yet after further discussion, she and her husband changed their minds and had her mother, sister, mother-in-law, father-in-law, and midwife attend delivery. "They were important to us and they also wanted to be a part of the delivery ... to share in the experience and to see their first grandchild born. Never once did I feel uncomfortable," says Ingrid. "They were so amazed ... so quiet and so attentive."
Heather, who also had extended family in the room during delivery, echoes Ingrid's positive sentiment and says for their next child's birth they "... hope to have as many family and friends as our house will hold. I am a firm believer in being surrounded by love and help during such an amazing life milestone. I can't think of a better way to enter this world than surrounded by so much love."
Sharing Birth with Siblings
It's important to prepare any children you plan on inviting into in the delivery room. Include them in the pregnancy, use books or videos to give them an idea of what to expect from birth, and explain that displays of discomfort or even pain can be natural. Prepare activities for your child to fend off irritability and boredom in case labor is lengthy. Arrange ahead of time for an adult the child loves and trusts to be there specifically for the child. This person can explain what is happening, take the child from the room if a trauma arises or the child becomes uncomfortable, and assist with the child's other needs such as hunger or using the bathroom. Remember that a birthing room is a highly charged atmosphere; if you have a history of difficult labor and delivery or think your child will struggle seeing you in an emotional state or in pain, you may want to leave him or her at home or out of the room with a loved one.
Heather's two-year-old son attended the birth of his sister Chasey. "In the end he was practically in my lap as Chasey was born," says Heather. "I would never have been able to leave my son with someone while his sister was born out of my body. We prepared for her birth together every day. A baby being born is a very important family event that I don't think anyone should be excluded from regardless of age."
Candy mentions that having her four-year-old daughter attend the birth of her brother was never an option for them. "[She] was just too young to understand about the moaning, blood, and commotion. I think she would have left there more traumatized than enlightened," says Candy. Other women may choose not to include children in the room because they distract from the focus needed to deliver a baby.
A Memorable Moment
Childbirth is a life-changing event for women, a unique and often empowering experience leading into the journey of a lifetime—motherhood. Whether a woman has a meaningful, private birth with her soul mate or a special delivery surrounded by the love of family and friends, her birth will be a precious milestone as she welcomes a sweet little one from her womb to the world.