Reader Question: How Do I Prepare My Daughter For My Hospital Birth?



"Mary Duke Lcce how do I get my 13 yo daughter prepared to see me give birth? I’ve pretty much given up on ever having a Home birth because the babies come too early. But my daughter is finally old enough to be in the hospital room with me. She has been wanting to be there for the last several children. She has watched videos of birth, seen lots of pictures, and of course she knows all about a woman’s body and what has to happen for us to birth our baby. But I just don’t know if that’s enough. Because when the time comes she will kind of be stuck there until the end and I want her to be ready. Any advice?"

- Nicole Jose via Facebook

Mary's Answer:

"Nicole, You are already doing all the right things! It is so great that your Daughter is interested in being a part of your birth story and you are willing to allow her to support you. Here are a few suggestions that will help to better prepare you both for when the time comes:

  • Make sure she watches a hospital birth video and not just home birth or birth center births since that’s the setting she’ll be in. 
  • Ask your delivering hospital about a tour for kids or preteens or if they offer classes to prepare siblings.
  • Be honest (even if this isn’t what you typically do during labor) and let her know that you may make noises that sound scary or have facial expressions that look angry or afraid. You may snap at her or be rude to people in the room when things get really hard or painful. It is so important for her to know to not take your reaction to labor personally or to worry that something is wrong. Be clear to her that it is not her, she is witnessing the powerful emotions of a woman in labor. 
  • This is also a good time to talk to her about the difference between pain and suffering. Let her know part of birth is surrendering to pain, but through comfort measures and with the expertise of your doctors, you won’t really be suffering. Let her know she may step out to the hall or waiting room at any time if she feels uncomfortable. 
  • Discuss how much blood there is after birth. Tell her that Mom's body made a lot of extra blood for growing the baby and that blood will come out since she doesn’t need it anymore. Also, make sure she knows about the placenta. Often we leave that part out and kids don’t realize the birth process isn’t done when baby comes out. 
  • Let her know ways she can be helpful. For example: Going to the nurses station for more ice/water and making sure you are staying hydrated. She can remind you every hour to empty your bladder.

As a Lamaze® Certified Childbirth Educator and trained Birth Doula, I have helped families prepare siblings through education and support. Look locally for educators who provide private education or sibling classes. Also look for Doulas who offer sibling support (where they actually attend the birth with your child to support them).

The best way to prepare her is by having open communication and asking her what questions she has. You can also tell her what fears or concerns you had before the first time you witnessed a birth. Let her know how you’ve enjoyed birth, talk about the positive experiences also. Most importantly let her know over and over again how much it means to you to have her be there supporting you." 

In The Comments

Do you have any advice for Nicole and her Daughter? Share in the comments below.