Pregnancy & Birth

Should you let your older children be present when you give birth? One mum asked and everyone had an opinion

Mums were divided on this one!

The Olivers did it – that’s Jools and Jamie, we mean. In 2016 they allowed their two eldest daughters, Poppy Honey and Daisy Boo, then 14 and 12, to witness their baby brother River Rocket being born. The girls even got to cut his cord.

And countless other families have done it, too.

But one mother has created an online stir by asking whether she should allow her eight-year-old daughter to be present when she gives birth at home – EVERYBODY had an opinion about it.

On the UK parenting forum Mumsnet, the expectant mother set the scene: “I’m pregnant and my eldest has expressed that she would like to be there for the delivery.”

She explained that her previous birth experiences had been smooth sailing and she’d always coped well with pain. She was planning a home birth. (So if it was too much for her daughter she could always retreat to her room to read.) This was her last pregnancy, so this would be her daughter’s only opportunity to see a sibling being born.

Her midwives had told her they had no objection to her daughter being present and ultimately the decision was up to the family – but the family was struggling to make a decision.

“I’m not sure if the idea is entirely crazy, or a wonderful thing to do,” she wrote.

The Oliver clan, below:

The mums were divided

“Sorry but I think this is a bad idea,” wrote one. “How well do you honestly think an 8 year old would cope seeing her mother like that?”

Another agreed that it might be too much for such a young child to see if something were to go wrong, writing, “I hope everything will go well for you, but what if it doesn’t? That would be very frightening for a child her age.”

“Even if you have the most straightforward birth ever, and the most predictable 8 year old ever, they could still be alarmed by a normal birth. Blood, a newborn screeching – or not screeching quick enough – tears. Or any kind of discussion of needing resuscitation or a trip to the hospital. Any of that could really frighten a child,” wrote another.

But those for the idea said as long as there could be another trusted adult there to support the eight-year-old, why not?

“Absolutely just make sure she understands it all first and has someone there that can be in the room or outside if she needs to get out. What a wonderful bond they would have,” writes one supporter of the idea.

“When working as a midwife, I had some women whose older children wanted to be present and so they were,” a midwife chimed in.

“If you are happy and comfortable with it, and she is aware of what it will involve and you have a plan of what happens if it gets too much for her then it’s not an issue.

“Maybe watch some birth videos beforehand, and talk about what she may see/hear, and if she changes her mind she can leave then I genuinely don’t see an issue.”

A mother who had experienced this exact scenario also commented, assuring the new mum that it was a beautiful experience for her nearly seven-year-old, writing, “She was allowed to pop in and out and my sister was there to look after her.

“She was asleep for most of the labour as it was during the night but was there for the last hour or so. She was fascinated, if anything and was really mature about the situation, we’d talked a lot about it beforehand so she knew what to expect.

“Some people might think it’s a bit odd but it was an amazing moment to have shared as a family.”

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