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Sibling Preparation for Birth

Easy Steps to a Safer Pregnancy - View e-book or Download PDF - FREE!
An interactive resource for moms on easy steps they can take to reduce exposure to chemical toxins during pregnancy.

Other excellent resources about avoiding toxins during pregnancy

These are easy to read and understand and are beautifully presented.

I had my two children at the birth of their brother last month.  The oldest was 4yrs 2months and the younger was 2 yrs 4 months.  We watched many birth videos (Gentle Birth Choices and Special Delivery), A Baby Story on TLC (not great births, but the exposure was helpful for them to be excited and to get the basic idea of labor), read a great book called My Mom and Dad and I are Having a Baby (now out of print, borrowed my midwife's copy), and talked about the baby a lot.  The girls always cam to my midwife appt. and had a great time.  My mom came for the birth and took care of the girls.  The midwife has commented several times that my mom was great.  Her attitude was very calm and supportive to the girls.  The girls did great and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the experience.  My oldest had the job of cutting the cord and the younger one had the job to put on the hat.  We talked about this often before the baby was born and they were excited to do their jobs.

So I guess my rambling boils down to #1 education about birth #2 support person for the child(ren)  and #3 a special job for the child to involve him/her into the experience (if they want to, Somme kids are more likely to want to just watch) 

I don't know if you mean for the birth or for the new sibling, but when I was pg with my daughter I told my son (who was not too verbal) every day that "after christmas and your birthday, and when Olivier wears snow suits and plays with the snow man, another person will come live with us.  She will be small, cry sometimes, and suck on mommy's breast to eat (he was bottlefed).  She will sleep by mommy, and we will be gentle with her. Mommy will love Olivier and the other small person too."  I tried to avoid the whole issue of who was a baby and who was 'big brother' and the 'new' word because I didn't want him to think of himself as... like a dated model, like we were upgrading or something.  I was probably overly cautious... BUT!!!! I have never seen a shred of jealousy.  He adores her madly.  It's awesome.

As for the actual birth, my son was not there.  I actually regret this now as I've seen from how he acts when watching videos and when I am hurt he would have been fine.  BUT... I thought it was going to be really long and awful and excruciating and I'd be doing a lot of screaming and crying and yelling and I might have FTP again and end up in hospital, etc.  Which I would not have wanted him around for.  BUT that was not how it ended up.  I wish now, I would have had someone there just for him, like his grandma or grandpa, then he could have seen it, or left with her if things had gotten rough.

Next time, I plan on not sending the kids anywhere.  I plan on just calling my ILs when I go into labor, then they can come over and play with the kids until I have the baby.  We'll watch a lot of videos and I will show them how I yell when making a baby come out. 

Well, we just gave birth in July to a son, and we had our (then) 22 mo daughter present.  Given the work we did to prepare her, the birth went fantastically well, so I think that makes us experts! :-)  Here is what we did.

Preparing for the birth:

I had coincidentally bought a copy of "GivingBirth," a collections of photo-essays about birth.  Most are midwife attended homebirths. As it turns out, Clara was fascinated by the book.  We also ordered the Spiritual Midwifery video.  She loved this also.  We also showed her the videos we had borrowed from the midwife in preparation for the birth.  Even the ones showing difficult labors! IMHO, this is important. On one if the videos, Clara freaked a little when the mom started crying the first time she saw it.  We explained that it is sometimes hard to push a baby out, and it hurts.  After that Clara was perfectly OK when the video showed that scene again.

We also told Clara that we were going to have a baby pretty soon after we found out ourselves.  We explained that the baby was growing in mama's tummy, and that it would come out her vagina.  Of course, a couple of times after that, Clara would say that she had a baby growing in her tummy. We never contradicted her, but we never affirmed what she said either. Clara went to ALL of the midwife appointments.  In hindsight, I think this was also one of the important factors integrating her into the birthing process.  She would sit up on the bed beside Monika each time she was examined, and she could hear when the midwife listened to the baby's heartbeat with the doppler.  The one time that we missed an appointment with the midwife because of a mixup about the time, Clara was concerned that the baby would be all right if we didn't see the midwife! :-)  We assured her that everything was ok, and we would reschedule the appointment.  Her response was basically "make sure that you do!" :-)

During the birth itself:

First, a lot has been written about sibling jealousy and how to avoid it.  Well, IMHO, having your older sibling at the birth of a younger sibling is the best antidote for sibling jealousy on the face of the earth!

Second,  I have already written up Niel's birth story, including Clara's part in it.  If you weren't here when I posted it to the mailing list, it is at: http: definitely better with the pictures!

Finally, a few tips on getting ready for the big event.  We had made arrangements with Clara's regular babysitter to be her care provider during the birth.  Cailin (the babysitter) had already been to Clara's birth.  We had Cailin come over and sleep in Clara's room the night Monika was in labor.  When Monika started pushing and it was clear that the birth was imminent, we planned to wake Clara up, but while we were just discussing whether it was time yet, Clara woke up and came into our room on her own.

A funny story.  When Clara first came into our room she was her usual whiney toddler, "Mommy come in my room and nurse me back to sleep." When mama responded basically "I'm having a baby right now, I ain't goin' nowhere," Clara decided to go to the kitchen with Cailin and get a cup of milk.  When she got back to the bedroom, she was all business and ready to go.  She climbed up on the bed next to mama. (the same place she was in during the prenatal visits), and when the action started she was giving a running commentary of the progress, like some sports broadcaster.  When the baby came, she had two concerns: keeping the baby warm, and making sure it nursed first thing.

Some of how well the birth went can be attributed to the luck, for example of having Clara wake up at just the right time, but the work we did to prepare and make sure she had support sure made it easier.

After the birth:

OK.  Seriously, how much CAN a 24 mo do to take care of her little brother?  She doesn't change his diapers, and sometimes she is a little rough when she tries to pet him.  And sometimes she accidentally wakes him up trying to rock his carseat.  But there is no trace of jealousy.  In fact, she is (IMHO) overprotective, but what can a dad do? :-)  There are times when she ignores him to do her own thing, but his crying doesn't faze her, and she is very protective of him around strangers.

I think there are several things that contribute to this high degree of family harmony.  First is that they are tandem nursing.  There is no jealousy over the baby getting something that Clara can't have. Second, is that we don't give Clara less attention just because there is a baby here.  She may have to wait a few minutes every so often, but she knows we will get back to her deal with her needs.  Third, she knows that Niel is HERS as well as ours.  I think she willingly takes responsibility because she IS the BIG sister.  I find it heartwarming to see her decide she is going to stand up for him.

Well, that's our experience.  I hope those of you planning a birth for a second or later child will find it useful.

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