Like Jamie Oliver, would you let your older children be there at the birth of their sibling?
A mum has sparked a debate online about whether she should let her older daughter watch the birth of her baby.
Taking to parenting site Mumsnet, the woman explained that she had been questioning whether it would be ok to let her eight-year-old daughter be there when her new sibling is born.
“I’m pregnant and my eldest DC [dear child] has expressed that she would like to be there for the delivery,” she wrote.
She went on to say that all her previous births have been straightforward and she has coped well with the pain.
“This time I’m planning a home birth, and the midwives are not opposed to her being there. They have said it is up to us,” she wrote.
The mum continued by explaining that this would be her last baby, so the last opportunity for her to see a sibling born: “I’m not sure if the idea is entirely crazy, or a wonderful thing to do.”
She finished her post by asking other parents if she was being unreasonable to let her see the birth and stating that if her daughter finds it too much she can go to her room and read.
And others were quick to step in and offer their opinions on the subject.
Some worried that the experience might be too much for an eight-year-old.
“Sorry but I think this is a bad idea,” one user wrote.
“I’m guessing your labours, whilst I’m uncomplic [sic] are not pain-free? How well do you honestly think an 8-year-old would cope seeing her mother like that?”
“I think it would be very easily [sic] for her at best to feel overwhelmed. At worst feel traumatised for life,” another agreed.
“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,” another user offered.
But some people thought it was a lovely idea for the woman’s daughter to see her sibling be born, even sharing their own stories of births where elder children were present.
“I had a home birth with DD2 [dear daughter 2], DD1[dear daughter1] was 6 nearly 7 at the time, she was allowed to pop in and out and my sister was there to look after her,” one mum wrote.
“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 fasinated [sic] if anything and was really mature about the situation, we’d talked a lot about it before hand 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.”
“When working as a midwife, I had some women whose older children wanted to be present and so they were,” another user commented.
“If you are happy and comfortable with it, and she is aware of what it will entail and you have a plan of what happens if it gets too much for her then it’s not an issue IMO.
“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. It’s not for everyone, but its your birth, you can have whoever you want there!”
This isn’t the first time the topic of older siblings being present in the birthing room has caused a stir.
Back in 2016, Jamie Oliver hit headlines after revealing that his two eldest daughters, Poppy Honey and Daisy Boo, then 14 and 12, had been there to witness their baby brother River Rocket being born.
The TV chef described the event as “amazing to witness, very very emotional” while his wife explained that their daughters had cut the cord.
To some people the idea of inviting children to watch childbirth may sound odd, but according to experts an increasing number of parents are opting to have older offspring present at the event.
Speaking about the practice, shortly after Jools Oliver gave birth Elizabeth Duff, NCT (National Childbirth Trust) Senior Policy Advisor said:
“Having older children present at the birth of their sibling is a very personal decision for both parent and child and should be discussed without pressure ahead of the actual birth.
“A child of any age will need some preparation for the experience. No matter how wonderful it can be to watch their sibling being born, it can also be a confronting experience for a child to see their mother in pain or losing blood.
“Having another trusted adult, such as a grandparent, present or very nearby is important so that if the child gets upset, changes their mind or complications arise then they can leave quickly.”
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