Is It Okay for Children to Witness Their Sibling's Birth?

The arrival of a new addition to the family is a very special event. Every member of the family looks forward to this moment. Some say families should allow their children to be in the delivery room to welcome their newborn sibling. Is this really a good idea?

Last update: 13 December, 2018

Should you let your children witness their sibling’s birth? You’re sure to find opposing viewpoints if you bring this subject up with family and friends. And among the opinions you’ll hear, you’ll also run across a lot of prejudice.

Some will say that being in the delivery room traumatizes children or that kids can’t handle seeing their mother suffering. Other people think that letting older siblings be there will promote a stronger bond with the new brother or sister.

But the fact of the matter is, whether or not you allow your children in the delivery room is up to you, your partner and your kids. Of course, you shouldn’t pressure children if the situation makes them uncomfortable.

Children are naturally curious

Most children have a good inner connection with their emotions – sometimes more so than adults. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they have control over those emotions.

As children grow older, they often take on fears based on different comments they hear or attitudes they witness. Since you as an adult have a higher ability to reason, you need to explain things to your child in simple terms.

That means talking about the birthing process as something natural. That way, you can start paving the way towards that moment. At the same time, as a mother, allow your kids to express themselves and bring up any doubts they may have.

Explaining the process of pregnancy and birth

There are many professionals who refuse to allow children to witness their sibling’s birth. However, it shouldn’t have to be that way. If your children know that their mother is strong and able, they’ll put their trust in you.

Just the same, if they see and perceive pregnancy like an illness, they’ll be afraid of it and become upset as birth approaches.

If they hear people talk about birth like something dangerous, then they’ll see it as something that no one would want to see or experience. The last thing you want your children to think is that their mother’s life is in danger.

Your children’s feelings will depend greatly on how you and your partner talk about pregnancy and birth in their presence. Of course, they also have to do with your own circumstances as a mother.

If you’ve never had complications and you feel confident, you can transmit those feelings even while giving birth. However, you may also be feeling nervous. If so, knowing your children are present may reduce your ability to make delivery a fast and tender moment.

What do you need to take into account?

There are several factors that you and your partner should take into consideration when making your decision. For example, what type of assistance will you receive? Will you be giving birth at home or in a hospital?

It’s important not to overlook these details and do your homework. Some medical facilities don’t allow children to be in the delivery room to witness their sibling’s birth.

Other aspects to consider are the following:

  • Your children’s desire or intent. When preparing your children, you should be very observant and see how they react to the idea of being there. You may want to show them a video of a baby being born to see how they react.
  • Your children’s age. Many say that in order for children to witness their siblings’ birth, they should be able to express themselves. This means they should be at least 5 years old.
  • Your children’s temperament. If you have a very sensitive child, then it might not be a good idea for him or her to be there when you give birth.

“If children hear people talk about birth like something dangerous, then they’ll see it as something that no one would want to see or experience. The last thing you want your children to think is that their mother’s life is in danger.”

What to do if you’ve decided you want your children to witness their sibling’s birth

Be aware that birth can take a long time, or it can be over in an instant. Try to explain to your children exactly what will happen in the delivery room.

In a calm manner, tell your kids that you’re going to have to work really hard. This way, your moaning will be less likely to frighten them. Also, explain that your body has a lot of blood and liquid, both of which are very important for your life and that of your baby.

Find out if your hospital allows for visits to the delivery room beforehand. This can really help your children prepare mentally. If you’re going to have your little one at home, then let your children help you get the space ready for the big moment.

One crucial detail is choosing a person who will accompany your children. You may think that task will fall on your partner.

However, if you need your partner by your side, you’ll want to make sure your children aren’t left alone. If they start to feel uncomfortable, there should be someone to take them out and calm them.

Remember: The decision regarding whether to have your children in the delivery room to witness their sibling’s birth is up to you. That being said, it’s not a decision you should take lightly.

Really evaluate the reason why you want them to be there, and ask yourself if they’re willing and prepared. Last of all, don’t feel bad if you change your mind when the time comes.

  • Creciendo como padres y madres. 2009. Save the Children España – Ministerio de educación, Política Social y Deporte.