Valerie Gommon Midwife’s Blog

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I thought I’d share with you my experiences of children (siblings) being present at birth.

Interestingly on a recent edition of “One born every minute” a teenage boy was with his mother in labour and this is something that I’ve witnessed before, and although it is unusual I feel perfectly comfortable with this.  Some women choose to be supported by their own father in labour and again, this may seem unusual, but the choice of birth partner should be left to the woman.

With regard to children being present, again, I think women instinctively know whether or not they want their children to be present.  At a planned homebirth, sometimes children will be present and I have never seen a child distressed (sometimes despite the noises of birth).  Women will know whether having a child present will inhibit them and stop them labouring effectively and they will also know their own child and whether they feel it will be appropriate.  I have been at many births with children present, and invariably the children are very quiet and seem aware that something special is happening, they are almost reverential and their mother can usually smile and reassure them between contractions that she is fine, but just “working hard to give birth to their new baby”, I also think it is very much part of my role as a midwife to reassure the child(ren) and this is helped by the fact that I have usually spent a lot of time getting to know the whole family.

If you wish your child(ren) to be present I suggest you spend time preparing them for the birth.  Talk about birth being “hard work” – it is “hard to get a baby out” and “sometimes Mummies make funny noises”.  I also compare birth to be like a sportsperson working very hard and making “grunts and groans”.

There are also lots of wonderful books to introduce the idea of a new baby to children including ‘Hello Baby’ – by Julie Vivas and I would encourage you to spend lots of time reading about a new baby, looking at photographs, videos etc and fully involving your older children at every opportunity – I feel certain this will go a long way to preventing sibling rivalry.

We have had two weeks of the eight week Channel 4 documentary series ‘One Born Every Minute’.  The series follows the day-to-day life in a maternity ward and was filmed over the course of a month.  The programme goes out on Tuesday evenings at 9pm.

The programme highlights the intense experience of childbirth from the perspective of both parents-to-be and also midwives and maternity ward staff. 

The programme, for me, is very interesting and also very realistic of the pressures faced by staff and women alike, however it is edited in a very dramatic style featuring women screaming, babies crying and moments of intensity and drama (of course, this is TV!).  I have had clients contact me having been quite upset by the programme.  I just hope they also show some of the lovely normality of birth, the quiet, serene, beautiful births and not just the drama.