Home Birth With Kids in the Room: Crazy and Awesome

Sasha Brown-Worsham

For her third birth, writer Madeline Holler had her baby at home while her daughters observed. At 7 and 3, both girls said they didn't enjoy being there.

They might change their mind.

"... It was with education in mind -- education with a whiff of indoctrination -- that I wanted them to see a woman give birth. Sort of a health class video meant to supplement the textbook and lectures. After all their excitement and knowledge, I was sure they'd enjoy being a part of it," Holler said on Salon.com.

The popular, most common view of birth is that it's painful and scary and loud. Ask anyone who has recently given birth and 9 times out of 10, you will hear, "Oh, it was horrible ...." And all the drama that follows.

When I was pregnant, it made me so angry, but I was lucky. I had attended my sister's natural birth when I was 8 years old and I knew it was doable. I had faith.

I wasn't scared.

According to all that I learned through my Hypnobirthing classes, fear is the reason so many women stall out and report so much pain. Their bodies resist.

Now obviously, there are very real problems that can happen in labor. And these problems require medical attention and intervention. Clearly, not every birth goes perfectly; however, in a standard, healthy birth, there is no reason a child couldn't be present.

Yes, there's blood and mucus and water, but preparation can help temper the surprise. Before I watched my sister's birth, I attended "big sibling" classes, held new babies, and watched several birth videos through the hospital.

I felt ready. And yes, it was scary, but 20 years later (almost to the day) when I had my own first baby, I was ready in a way no one else was. I had seen it before.

But that isn't the only reason to do it. With a new sibling, you're becoming a family. You're all birthing the family and it's nice to be together for it. My own second birth was only with my husband because my daughter was 18 months, but had she been older, I would have had her there.

If and when I have our third baby, I will hope my children can be there, too. Birth is as natural as any other part of the life cycle and this idea that we must hide it and talk about it like it's a bad thing only makes it harder.

So children in the birthing room? Definitely a do in my house!

Would you let your children watch a birth?


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