Preparing Little Ones for the Labor and Birth of a New Sibling
*THROW BACK POST. I AM NOT CURRENTLY PREGNANT BUT THIS QUESTION COMES UP ENOUGH FOR ME TO REPOST IT* I am pregnant with a little one who will make his or her debut sometime in July. Our baby will have two big sisters who cannot wait to cuddle, hold, and love our little bundle. Two big sisters who need to be well prepared for the upcoming events of labor and birth (we are having a homebirth) as well as what life will be like once our new baby is here. Here are some of the things we have done to help make the adjustment easier for them before baby’s arrival – because, let’s face it, it’s a family thing.
1. Read books. Lots and lots of books. Books about pregnancy. Books about labor and birth. Books about homebirth. Books about hospital birth. Books about what it means to be a big sister. Books about midwives and doulas. My children love to read. And I love the illustrations of some of these amazing treasures to help us all visualize what’s going to happen to mommy over this marvelous time.
We have several more, but these are the ones they reach for time and time again.
Mama, Tell Me About When Max was Born by, Toni Olson
We’re Having a Homebirth!! by Kelly Mochel
When You Were Inside Mommy by, Joanna Cole
I’m a Big Sister (Brother) by, Joanna Cole
Hello Baby by, Jenni Overend and Julie Vivas
Hello Baby! by, Lizzy Rockwell
What’s Inside Your Tummy, Momm? by, Abby Cocovini
Runa’s Birth by, Uwe Spillmann and Inga Kamieth
My Mom’s Having a Baby! by, Dori Hillestad Butler and Carol Thompson
2. Talking, singing, interacting with the baby as if he/she is already here (because she is!) Our little bundle can hear us talking, reading, singing, and sharing with each other, in-utero. My youngest (almost 2) is the first one to cuddle up and say good morning to the baby, hug, and kiss her. She always has to lift up my shirt to see my belly button in order to make the conversation legitimate (no matter where we are). I think she views my belly button as a portal or microphone into the baby’s world. Whatever the case, she loves whispering sweet nothings into my belly, patting, rubbing, and singing to our baby inside. Sometimes I get out a Tiny Tickler (we sell these in the shop) and she gets to “tickle” the baby. It’s a great way to bond with an unborn baby and if feels good to have soft, gentle touches on my tummy. I can’t help but smile when I see the beginnings of a sibling relationship forming. Melts my heart.
Tiny Tickler $15 Mama May i
3. We have been perusing Vimeo.com under the search terms “homebirth” because I want them both to be prepared for the type of labor and delivery that they will most likely be a part of. (I try to scan them first just to make sure I can explain what’s going to happen if there are noises or sights that might create questions). Both of my children WANT to be here when I deliver our baby and I want them to understand the types of things they will see, hear, and smell. It is amazing how interested they are in watching other little beings coming into the world – they can sense the magnitude of this incredible journey and event…they sit in awe and reverence as each story unfolds. I, myself, love watching these videos because they are affirmations to me of how incredibly strong and beautiful women are. I am excited and honored to have the opportunity to share this feminine journey with my little ones. It feels so natural and so real and inspiring.
FYI. They will have their own “person” when I am laboring so if it ever gets too intense, they are welcome to go play or head out for a walk.
4. Along with this idea, I talk to them about labor and what that means and looks like. I tell them it’s a lot of hard work for a mommy. That her tummy squeezes the baby, giving giant hugs, to help bring the baby down. Sometimes mommy’s need to use they birth songs to help them bring the baby down and it sounds like this “oooooooooo…….ohhhh…..” deep, grumbly, throating noises. I ask them to help me make that sound (they love to imitate me). I sometimes show them some positions that mommy might want to be in; on all fours, leaning against a bed, some pillows, walking, swaying our hips. Sometimes we practice our “hula” hip moves to bring the baby down.
5. I have always been honest with my children and have always used proper terminology when it comes to our private parts. They know that our baby will come out of mommy’s vagina. I’ve demonstrated this with a baby doll or two. We also talk about it when we watch birth videos. I don’t want them to be scared to see a whole little person coming out of me, down there. They know that baby’s can’t live in their “tummys” “uteruses” or “wombs” quite yet….but if they want to have children when they become grownups they will have a comfy cozy home just for their baby, too.
There is a woman who crafts these amazing, handmade birthing / breastfeeding dolls that beautifully depict this idea. If they weren’t quite so expensive I would definitely have one. But they are beautiful and one of these days I just might splurge…
Hoping to have inspired some good conversation with you and your little one about pregnancy, labor, and birth!
What are some other ways to prepare even the smallest members of your family for the upcoming arrival of a sibling?