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  • Three-year-old Hunter didn't just sit back and watch during her brother's delivery -- she took an active part.

    Despite Rebecca's husband being initially skeptical about the idea of having Hunter present for the birth, Mark trusted his wife's gut and understood the importance of this family moment. "Kids perceive things in the way adults react to it, so if birth is not made out to be scary or traumatic or what not, kids are not going to think that it is," Rebecca tells CafeMom. "Birth is such a natural part of life and such an awesome moment, especially for a brother or sister to be there when their sibling is born; it really makes such an awesome connection for them for the rest of their lives."  

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  • Rebecca wasn't nervous about having Hunter there and worked to prepare her ahead of time.

    Rebecca was never concerned about how Hunter would react to the delivery and instead planned her birth around the toddler. "Having her at the birth was part of the reason why I really wanted a home birth," she says. "I wanted Hunter to be as involved or not involved as she wanted to be and I didn't want to have to be away from her." 

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  • Hunter turned out to be Rebecca's biggest cheerleader when it came time to push.

    When Rebecca started pushing, Mark woke up Hunter up and brought her downstairs. Although it took her a few minutes to wake up by sitting on her dad's lap and quietly asking questions, she quickly settled into the situation. She started playing with her dolls and requested a snack before entertaining everyone with her sweet curiosity. "She would gently stroke her mom and tell her she was doing a great job and she kept exclaiming how excited she was to meet 'her baby,'" Rebecca's doula and birth photographer, Nicole Lahey, tells CafeMom.

    Although the initial plan was for Rebecca to have a water birth, she ended up delivering her son on the couch. "When Rory started to crown, the midwife invited Hunter over to be the first to touch her baby brother," Nicole says. "Hunter gladly reached over and put her finger on his head and said 'it's squishy.'"

  • When it came time for skin-to-skin, Hunter ripped off her shirt to get close to "her baby."

    Nicole envisioned a sweet skin-to-skin moment before the delivery, and once Rory was born, she asked Hunter if she wanted to give it a try. "She immediately began pulling her shirt and flew over to the couch to sit down and hold him. She asked me why she had to take her shirt off so I explained that brand-new babies love the feeling of warm skin on their new bodies and I assured her she would love it too," Nicole says. "The second we placed him on her chest her smile just literally melted everyone watching."

    When Rory started bobbing his head looking for milk, Hunter giggled because she knew just what her baby brother wanted. "Rory still had vernix and fluids in his hair and Hunter had not a care in the world about it," Nicole says. "She was so happy and in love with him."

  • She never left her mom's side, even after the birth, and helped Rory latch for the first time.

    According to Nicole, Hunter stood "stood front and center," with her snack cup in hand the entire time, and cheered her mom on as she delivered. "She was so helpful and never left her mother and her brother's side except to get the 'birthday cupcakes' and we all sang happy birthday to Rory before his placenta was born," Nicole says. "She helped him to latch, she inspected his cord and got to feel it pulsate .... She did not miss a single beat and was a huge participant in every aspect of her brother's birth."

  • Hunter also assisted with Rory's newborn exam and weighing him for the first time.

    Nicole also helped Rebecca prep Hunter for what post-delivery would be like, using experience from when her own toddler witnessed her newborn's birth. "I sent Rebecca my birth video to watch with Hunter, and sent her lots of links to other births so that Hunter had a view of all different kinds of births and scenarios," Nicole says. "Rebecca discussed with Hunter all of the things she might see and hear so that she wouldn't be scared or nervous when they came up. I actually remember Rebecca yelling at one point and Hunter didn't bat an eye."

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  • "I feel that siblings who watch their little sibling's birth are much more connected and compassionate with one another," Nicole says.

    Despite those who have a negative opinion about young siblings being present for the birth of a new baby, Nicole strongly believes that it should be up to the mom, who knows her child better than anyone. "Every child is different and every parent-child relationship is different. It isn't the actual moment of birth that mothers are worried about their older children witnessing, it's more that they want to ensure their children's needs are being met, that they are able to cope for the full length of the labor, and that the mother herself is able to focus fully on birthing her baby and getting through her contractions without being distracted by the needs of other children," Nicole says. "If parents really want to have their other children present at the birth, the best thing to do is prepare them with videos, talk about every aspect of birth, and speak about birth in a positive way." 

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