Would you let your children watch you give birth?
The Carraway family in did just that, inviting their daughter into the delivery room.
Jacee, 12, from Mississippi USA, was present for the arrival of her baby brother, Cayson, earlier this month. Their decision has sparked fierce online debate, here’s what happened.
Midwife in training
Having Jacee deliver her brother wasn’t part of the original birth plan. Mum, Dede however had given the go ahead for her to be present. Dede shared that Jacee had wanted to be present 18 months earlier, during the birth of her brother, Zadyn. At that time her parents had decided against it due to her age.
This time however, Jacee wasn’t missing a moment. The proud big sister was initially upset as she was too short to see what was happening on the delivery table and feared she would miss the big arrival. “I started crying because I thought I wasn’t going to get to see him be born,” Jacee said. Both Jacee and her mum got the shock of a lifetime when the attending Obstetrician, Doctor Wolfe, suggested that Jacee scrub in for the delivery.
While initially hesitant, Dede now see’s the experience as both amazing and profoundly moving. “Seeing the emotions on her face, it made me cry. I’m about to cry now! It was just a good moment for me,” says the mum-of-three. Jacee described it to MS News Now as ‘the best moment of her life’
Children in the delivery room: yay or nay?
Birth, however it unfolds, is a huge experience. The commentary on the photos of Jacee delivering her brother, which have now gone viral, shows that parents are divided as to whether or not they’d want their other children present in the delivery room.
While some feel that it’s one of the most beautiful experiences a family could have together, others worry about the impact on the children as they watch their mother go through the stages of labour.
There is very little research available as to whether or not kids ‘should’ be allowed in the delivery room. Midwifes in both the UK and Australia however have noticed an increase in the number of children attending birth.
Child and family psychologist Dr Mair Edwards told the BBC that the very personal decision needs to take into account the type of delivery planned, the age and maturity of the children and, more so than anything else, the child or children’s willingness to be involved.
“If the birth is going well and everything is going to plan then it can be a fantastic experience,” she says. “The problem is if it isn’t a smooth birth there can be panic and that can be really traumatic. Some fathers say they can be quite traumatised by the sight of their partner in labour.”
Considering making it a family affair?
If you do decide that perhaps your older child or children would like to be present at the birth of their sibling, preparation is key. Dr Sears, Paediatrician, recommends the following:
- Explain the rules ahead of time and make expectations of behaviour extremely clear.
- Ensure there is another caregiver in the room (apart from your partner) who can manage the other child or children and remove them from proceedings if necessary.
- Take siblings to the hospital/birthing suite/birth centre where you will be giving birth to show them where they’ll be when the baby is on its way.
- Prepare them for what to expect in terms they can understand. Explaining as clearly as possible that there might be strange noises, blood and lots of people helps give a clear picture. This also alleviates any anxiety around the unexpected.
- Remind them that they are in control and if they start to feel anxious or uncomfortable, they are allowed to leave without any consequences.