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.

Menu