Do children belong at a birth?

It may seem like a strange question in this modern time but not too long ago this was normal. In fact this was how childbirth was normalized and communities grew. There are still plenty of people who still choose to make birth a family affair.

It is truly an amazing gift to witness birth. Could you imagine how different people would view their bodies, let alone birth if birth was totally normal? Perhaps it would put birth classes out of business (and possibly doulas such as myself…). In research for my book, I have talked to over a dozen families that have had their children attend their birth. Most of them said their child(ren) were no bother at all and furthermore they were in labor land and didn’t care who was there. Some even said they really liked having their child there; it helped them cope in some way.

I for one planned to have my children at my birth but was (secretly) relieved they were sleeping and I could have this experience for myself. Is it selfish? I don’t know. But I relished the fact that I could nuzzle and gaze at my newborn and it could just be us two. It was delicious and indulgent, and I loved every minute. Could I have had the same world shushing moment with my children present? I can’t say.

So is there a cost to the birthing person when birth shared? Birth is a very unique event. Some people choose to keep it small and intimate. Perhaps having children around would throw off their groove (much like any act in the bedroom… ). Or perhaps they think it is indecent or too scary for children to witness.

I am thankful to the families that choose to make it a family affair. It is truly one of the greatest gifts to their children. Also talking to their children is truly insightful. But I can understand why some choose not to.