Are you expecting a baby and have older children that you’ve considered including in the birth experience? Being comfortable around a laboring woman and normalizing the experience of birth can be an incredible gift to give to your kids. Adults who attended the births of their siblings when they were younger have reported fewer feelings of fear and more confidence in the ability of a woman’s body to deliver a baby. Many people want to have their other children at the birth or nearby but have concerns about how to handle it. This is where a sibling doula comes in!
Labor can be a time of incredible joy but there can also be moments of intensity, confusion, and concern. Children can bring a perfectly calm, sweet presence to the birth, or they can be downright distracting and disruptive. They have a lot of needs and the laboring mother deserves to give all of her attention to the delivery of the baby. It is hard for a woman to shut off the “mom brain” and not concern herself with whether the kids are fed, clean, bickering, or comfortable. A distracted mom can end up with a stalled labor. A sibling doula is able to help the other children understand the birth process, keep them calm and entertained, make sure they are fed and changed and can sense when they are becoming a distraction or when the situation becomes too intense for little ones to witness.
Your sibling doula will usually come to your home 1-2 times before the due time frame to help your children get familiar and comfortable with them, to teach them age-appropriate information about what to expect, what birth looks and sounds like, anything they might be able to do to help out, and to get familiar with your desires, parenting style, routine, the layout of your house, and to create a plan. This is usually something a person would do for a home birth, but some birth centers and hospitals are also open to siblings attending. You will want to have a plan with your doula for when the children should or shouldn’t be present and what your wishes are in case of a transfer or emergency.
The doula should be experienced in working with children of all ages and should also have enough birth experience to intuitively know what the situation calls for. Because most babysitters aren’t usually familiar with birth, and because most family members are usually too emotionally invested in the birth to attend to other children, a sibling doula can make the perfect addition to your birth team. They may even be able to add additional services such as photography or housework if the birth ends up at night while the children are sleeping. Interview a sibling doula today by checking out the UDA’s doula directory for sibling support!
Michelle Roper Holmes is our guest blogger this week. She lives in beautiful Heber with her husband and 5 kids. She is trained in bereavement, hypnobirthing, rebozo, spinning babies, reflexology and massage for the expectant mom and more! Her next goal is to become a Certified Childbirth Educator. She also handles multiple volunteer positions on the Utah Doula Association board. Visit her website at www.sagedoula.com