Childbirth is a time for rejoicing, but it's also a time of enormous physical sensations and equally powerful emotions, much of which won't be within your control. Think very carefully about whether you want older children in the delivery room when your baby is born.
This is a decision that you and your partner must make after considering your own comfort level and the maturity of your children. There are some 4-year-olds who wouldn't be frightened by the potentially scary visual and auditory sensations of a birth, while some 10-year-olds might be terrified by just a glimpse of their mothers bleeding. It's also important to discuss your wishes with your provider; if your midwife or obstetrician is uncomfortable with the idea, your children may need to wait to visit the baby in the nursery.
Most parents who decide to have their older children at the birth want to give them the gift of experiencing that miraculous moment when a baby comes into the world. They may want to introduce the idea of birth as a natural part of life, or they may hope that their children will be closer to their new sibling as a result of having witnessed the arrival. There is very little research, pro or con, on the effect of childbirth on siblings. What you decide is best for your children must therefore be based on your individual upbringing and family culture.
If you do decide to have children present, keep these general guidelines in mind to make the delivery more kid-friendly:
Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.
All content on this Web site, including medical opinion and any other health-related information, is for informational purposes only and should not be considered to be a specific diagnosis or treatment plan for any individual situation. Use of this site and the information contained herein does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.