Books to Prepare Children for Birth

Books are a wonderful tool to prepare older children for the birth of their sibling.

Parents of young children can use the stories and illustrations as a tool to discuss birth. The books listed below are generally targeted towards younger children, but could be used at any age to explain the birthing process and what they can expect.

My Brother Jimi Jazz – Chrissy Butler

This book begins with a family preparing for the birth of a precious baby. It is told from the perspective of the older sibling and walks readers through co-sleeping, breastfeeding, pregnancy, to a natural and calm birth at home. Family involvement is key, with midwives supporting the peaceful arrival of Jimi Jazz. The illustrations are whimsical and engaging, and the language is accessible and warm.

Hello Baby – Jenni Overend

This beloved book is a wonderful story of birth at home, from the viewpoint of the youngest child in the family. It follows the mother during labour, the arrival of the midwife and her equipment, as well as the noises mum makes during labour. A family-centred home birth, the story shows siblings of different ages being involved, the role of dad during labour, and the normal side to birth.

Mama, Talk About When Max Was Born – Toni Olsen

This book tells the home birth story of a little girl’s brother, Max. The story covers pregnancy, with the little girl being involved in the prenatal appointments, setting up the birth pool at home, and so on. Each image is natural, calm and true to life – baby is held skin to skin after birth for example.

Birthing River – Rachel Nixon

We’re Having A Homebirth – Kelly Mochel

Kelly has written and illustrated a simple, colourful and contemporary book for preparing children for normal birth at home.

The illustrations are fresh and clean, showing topics such as the development of baby in utero, what the midwife does, what to expect on the birthing day, how to help mum during labour, what mum might sound and look like, and what happens after the baby is born.

Our Water Baby – Amy Maclean

A beautiful book showing a family preparing for a water birth at home, with the older sibling asking fantastic questions about water birth. The story discusses other topics such as the noises mum will make during labour and how she needs to concentrate, dad’s role in supporting mum, as well as the role of the midwife. There is a special ending which demonstrates the bonding between new baby and older sibling. The illustrations are lovely, with engaging toys framing the scenes, making it more accessible for children to engage with.

For more ideas on preparing children for the birth of their sibling, take a look at Preparing Children for Birth and Videos to Prepare Children for Birth.

 

Written by Sam McCulloch. Images by The He{ART} of Motherhood.

Videos to Prepare Children for Birth

A great way to help children prepare for the reality of labour and birth is to show them. This can help them to understand that birth is really normal and what to expect when it comes time for their baby sibling to be born. It’s important children hear and see birth in order to understand why women vocalize during labour and know the experience can be painful but it is not injurious to mum or baby. Seeing the process of labour can put into perspective the sight of waters releasing, membranes and any blood, the placenta and cord.

This beautiful, peaceful birth at home shows a mother labouring in water while her youngest child potters around, helping to pour water as comfort and even joining in vocalisations during contractions. Her teenaged daughter is also very involved, providing comfort and observing her mother in labour. The video shows the baby’s head crowning and the birth. The baby takes some time to establish breathing and once settled into bed, newborn and big sister have their first breastfeed together.

This black and white video shows a woman labouring in water and birthing on land. The video shows the baby’s head and body being born, and we hear the baby’s first cries. There is lots of lovely skin to skin and the older siblings, who were asleep during the birth, come in soon afterwards to meet their new baby and are clearly besotted.

This lovely, calm birth at home is of a first baby shows the normal sights and sounds of a woman labouring in water. There is no visual of the actual birth, but the baby is brought to the surface of the water immediately. There is footage of the time following birth and the placenta, skin to skin with mum and dad, as well as baby’s first breastfeed.

Siblings present at births can be so excited when the baby is born! This video of a hypnobirth at a birth centre shows a big brother’s happiness when mum announces a new baby brother! The birth itself is in water and can’t be seen, but afterwards the older siblings gather around the birth pool to see and touch their new baby brother.

For more ideas, see Preparing Children for Birth or Books to Prepare Children for Birth.

Written by Sam McCulloch. Images by The He{ART} of Motherhood.

Preparing Children for Birth

Sibling involvement at birth is often seen at births occurring at home. Having your older children present at the birth of their sibling can make the experience very special for everyone. It can help older children bond with their new sibling and avoid jealousy, as well as normalising the birth process.

Parents who choose birth centres and even hospitals are requesting to have their other children present during labour and birth. In order to make the experience as positive as possible, it’s a good idea to spend plenty of time in advance preparing your children for the sights and sounds of childbirth. How you do this will depend on the age of your children and their personalities.

Parents of young children can use stories and illustrations as a tool to discuss birth. You can find out more here – Books To Prepare Children for Birth.

Another great way to help children prepare for the reality of labour and birth is to show them. This can help them to understand that birth is really normal and what to expect when it comes time for their baby sibling to be born. It’s important children hear and see birth in order to understand why women vocalize during labour and know the experience can be painful but it is not injurious to mum or baby. Seeing the process of labour can put into perspective the sight of waters releasing, membranes and any blood, the placenta and cord. See Videos to Prepare Children for Birth.

The Role Children Can Play

It can be a good idea to enact labour and birth during your pregnancy, setting up role plays with them so they can ‘experience’ it before the real deal. In this way, you can set up scenarios which can help pave the way for your child to respond well if you decide you need some space, or if the birth is quite fast. They can pretend to be the midwife or the mum giving birth too.

If your child is happy to be involved during labour and birth, it can be helpful to give them a special job. This can be simply wiping your face with a damp flannel, helping you to have a drink or keeping you company. Some children are happy to be in charge of the thermometer to make sure the birth pool is kept at the right temperature, and others simply like to sit by and encourage their mother.

It’s important to remember that how you feel during pregnancy about having your children present may change when you are actually in labour. It is ok for you to change your mind during labour, or to need your child/ren to be engaged in other activities elsewhere in the house or even leave for some time.

If you find having them present is distracting or even disturbing you, it’s a good idea to have a trusted friend or relative to be on hand. This is a good idea particularly if you are giving birth in a hospital or birth centre, as the staff can’t be responsible for your child.

Preparing your child for the reality of birth goes a long way to them understanding you will be working hard during labour, that it can take many hours and you won’t be as available to them. Having a special box of toys or activities can help, set aside for this special day, so they are able to come and go as they like. This can be useful when you are close to giving birth, if you or your child has decided they don’t want to be present for the actual birth. They can come back as soon as the baby is born, and meet their new sibling. If you are having a water birth, you might like to have your children join you in the birth pool, so set out their bathers in case!

 

Written by Sam McCulloch (Birth Educator and Birth Writer). Images by The He{ART} of Motherhood.

The Homebirth of Ava | Ipswich Birth Videographer

Ava was born quickly and safely at home, with the loving support of My Midwives Ipswich.

This pregnancy was not an easy one for the family, with daddy Mike being diagnosed with cancer, and all of the resulting tests and treatments, not to mention the emotional ride.

But Ava’s arrival brought so much love and joy, a true gift to celebrate after the adversity of the previous months.

And how beautiful it was to witness the love in this room on that very special night – between Rachel and Mike, between their children, and between their lovely new baby girl.

Welcome earthside, Ava. You are so dearly loved.

 

 

 

Mama ~ Baby ~ Placenta | Ipswich Birth Photographer

In recent times, I’ve seen many birth images floating around my social media feed that include the placenta. I think it’s wonderful that it is being recognised for the amazing organ it is – one that sustains LIFE!

As much as I admire the photos of fresh squishy babies with their placentas, cord placed beautifully between them, I’ve always personally felt that those images are not my style, they are more “staged” than what I usually photograph at births.

When I saw this moment unfold naturally in front of my camera, with no direction or posing, it took my breath away. And so, I wanted to share.

Mama, baby, placenta ~ soon after arriving earthside.

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Happy Birthday, Little One | Ipswich Birth Photographer

So I’m a couple of days late with my birthday wishes – ironically, part of the reason for that is that I rushed off to a birth…..for one of this mama’s closest friends!! Now their two little ones share a birthday – but not only that, two of their older children are birthday buddies too!!

So here I am, wishing this sweet girl the happiest of (belated) birthdays! This family is special to me, as it was the first family I documented two Birth Days for. It’s such an honour to be invited back a second time – and it was crazy just how similar the two births were! Same hospital, same midwife, same photographer…..same sense of joy as they met their baby!

Sending you all loads of love as you reflect on this very special day xo

Jen

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Would you expect a groom to take his own wedding photos?

No? I certainly wouldn’t.

I would expect a groom to be in the moment on his wedding day. Talking, laughing, having fun, holding hands and kissing his new wife, and leaving the documentation of his special day up to the wedding photographer.

The day a man becomes a father is no different. This day, this story, includes HIM. It will be one of the most important days of his life, and he should NOT be viewing it from behind a lens.

He should be near her side, holding her hand, whispering words of encouragement…..loving and supporting her.

He should be kissing her with joy and pride when their baby is placed on her chest.

He should be stroking his baby’s beautiful soft head and gazing into his brand new baby’s eyes.

He should be cradling his baby in his arms.

These kinds of moments cannot be captured if he is behind the camera.

And whether or not he realises it, these images will be priceless. They will be cherished by his partner, by his child, and by him. Forever.

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The Hunter Family | Lockyer Valley Maternity Photographer

This beautiful family are dear friends of ours. My husband and I claim some credit for them finding each other, since they met at our joint 18th birthday party (yes, my husband and I are high school sweethearts, and our birthdays are 12 days apart)!

While we don’t get to see them as often as we’d like, when we do it’s just like the old times! It was so much fun hanging out with them, and talking all things baby and birth (well, Jess and I did, the men were not as interested in our topic of choice). And the weather gave us enough of a break that we made it to the beach to do a mini maternity session.

I can’t wait to meet their newest family member soon.

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The Maternal Assisted Cesarean of Audrey | Brisbane Birth Photographer

In Australia, over 30% of babies are born via cesarean.

While for some, this can be a disempowering, traumatic experience, it does not have to be that way.

Paris originally planned a VBA5C. Living in semi-rural Queensland, this was no mean feat! After speaking with many care providers and considering all of her options, she instead decided to find an obstetrician who would support a maternal assisted cesarean.

A maternal assisted cesarean is a cesarean in which a mother is able to reach down after her baby’s head has emerged, and bring her baby straight up to her chest. She is an active participant in the birth of her baby. For many women, feeling as though they are in control and a part of the birth experience, that they have choices and that those choices are respected, and that they are able to hold, touch and smell their babies immediately – without being whisked away, rubbed down and bundled up – can make a cesarean birth a positive, empowering experience.

Paris travelled 90km to the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane, with an obstetrician that supported her desire for a maternal assisted cesarean. After 5 previous cesareans, and this being their last baby, she longed for a different experience – and this birth, the birth of her seventh child Audrey, is the healing, empowering birth that she longed for.

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“But My Other Children Don’t Have Birth Photos”

Neither do mine. Sadly, devastatingly.

This is a common concern I get from parents considering birth photography for their subsequent children. And I understand, I really do.

I especially understand, because this morning at 7am, a little 5 year old boy came into my room sobbing. He’s a sensitive child, so it’s not an uncommon occurrence, but what he said when I asked him why just about broke my heart. He said, “Mummy, where’s MY birth video? I want one like Milly’s, I’ve just watched it 100 times!!!”

And I had to tell him, “Sorry buddy, but I don’t have a video of your birth. I wish I did, and it makes me sad too. I wanted photos and videos of your birth, but nobody took them. I’m really sorry”. And I gave him a hug while I felt his tears falling on me.

Then I said to him, “you know, I do have some photos I could show you, and I could TELL you about your birth”. He responded with, “but how could you even remember, it was FIVE YEARS ago”.

This is where I told him that as mamas, we never forget the day our babies were born. And I told him everything I remembered.

But deep down, I was sad because I know there is so much that I remember, but also so much that I forget. So many details that are becoming blurred with time. I can’t remember what his first cry sounded like. I can’t remember when he first opened his eyes and looked at me. I can’t remember the first thing I said to him. I didn’t even get to see him weighed or measured, and the first two hours of his life were spent apart.

I told him everything I could, but I know it wasn’t everything. And I told him I was sorry, and that I was sad too. And we both sat there for a little while, sad together.

Then I told him, I did have some video of when he was zero, and one, and two, and three and four and five. And we sat down for over an hour and we watched it. And he laughed, and exclaimed, and he remembered….and it was beautiful. Even though it was shaky, blurry, grainy and mostly taken on a phone up until he was about 3 years old.

I wish I could give him more, but I couldn’t – and all I could do is give him what I have. (And he THANKED me….hear him in the video, it was completely unprompted….even if it does sound like he’s reciting lines hahaha!!!)

But I COULD give my next child, and myself, what I wish I’d given him. I didn’t want to punish her for what I didn’t know better previously. I believe that when you know better, you DO better. And so I did. I had a homebirth, I had a birth photographer/videographer, I documented the things I missed out on documenting with my first two babies. I pushed aside the thoughts of making it ‘fair’ – because to me it didn’t seem fair that when now I actually know and realise how important it was, that I could make a conscious choice NOT to do it.

And the truth is, both of my older kids love the birth video and photographs of my youngest, too. Because it’s the day they met their baby sister for the first time, and I made sure they were included in that. The moments they share with their baby sister, and the moments we share as a family, are some of my absolute favourite! I cannot imagine not having them.

And I have no doubt that my son will watch it at least 100 MORE times in the future, as he’s requested I put it on his iPad, along with the compilation of his own baby/toddler footage.

While it was a hard conversation to have, I do not have any regrets about having my third birth photographed when my first two were not. The only regret I have is not doing it for all of them.