Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Poll: Boys & Birth

Looks like we're all over the place when it comes to boys and birth.

After watching the Internet's first live birth, I asked if you'd be OK with your son watching a birth. All in all, we're in favor of it: 28% said 'Yes, definitely," while another 21 % said your son has already seen a birth. An additional 14% have seen a birth on TV.

I myself fall into the fuzzy "Yes, theorectically" category (21%). Let me explain. While I have no problem whatsoever with my boys being exposed to the realities of birth -- and indeed have already looked at some pretty wonderful pictures with the boys -- I answered from the perspective of a mom considering having her sons at her next birth. (Full disclosure: I am most definitely not pregnant.)

I'm pretty liberal in my birthing beliefs. I'm all about natural childbirth and labor support, and fully believe that birth is a natural part of life. My last two children were born at Wisconsin's first free-standing birth center; if I'd lived closer, I would have seriously considered having Boy #4 at home.

But. I know my boys, and I know myself. I know that I can hardly think sometimes when they're in the room. I know that it is next-to-impossible for me to release my sense of responsibility to them. And I know that when I'm in labor, I need to concentrate. So ultimately, although I love the idea of kids being present at birth to welcome their newest sibling, I concluded that having my boys around during an actual labor and birth would be far too stressful for me. For me; you may feel differently.

I also know my boys, and I know that sitting quietly (or even in a relatively subdued manner) is not their thing. While our birth center features a fabulous family room, complete with TV, DVD player and games, I knew my boys would quickly tire of the whole thing. My boys, I concluded, would be more comfortable at home.

And that's where a home birth comes in. If I'd labored at home, if I had someone around to watch, look out for and otherwise run interference with my boys, I would have welcomed my sons at their brothers' births. At home, they would have been free to do what they do -- to sleep, run, play -- while not being excluded from an event central to the life of our family.

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to have your son view a birth is highly individual. You have to consider your son, your personality and your resources. For a great article about kids and birth, click here.

Meanwhile, I'd love to hear your stories. If your son witnessed one of your births, what did he think? If he saw one on TV, what did he say? And if you answered, no, you'd rather not let your son watch a birth, why?


  1. my oldest and at the time only son was there for the birth of his little brother. he was 7 at the time and it was unfortunately in a hospital (long story). i had decided he should be there if he wanted to early on and had several conversations with him about it and he was game with the escape clause that he could leave at any time. it was very important to me for him to be there and see everything. in the end i acually ended up giving birth to my second in a total of three hours (from first cramp to birth) so it was really crazy. i remember at the last minuet holding on to call him in from the other room and made everybody give him viewing space right before the moment i gave birth. he was amazed and thought i was amazing and a little freaked out. i know that it was the right thing and will be valuable to him in the long run and i love that he was there and saw everything. im not sure if i would have made the same decision if he were a different person or a different age but it all worked out.

  2. This is a really interesting post, Jennifer. I have two sons, and they were both present at their little sister's homebirth (they were 4 and 6 at the time). However, as you say above, it was all doable precisely b/c they were able to hang out at home, continuing their regular routine, and come in only right when she was about to be born. I really need to concentrate before that and would not have coped well with any distractions. Anyway, they loved being able to see their sister being born.

    With our last birth (less than a month ago), I now had three children to think about, plus this would be my first hospital birth. What we ended up doing was having them come and wait down the hall (we knew labor was likely to be pretty fast) and then we got them right after the birth so they could meet their new baby sister right away. I think it turned out to be best for me to do it that way in that setting - I could relax and labor without distractions. Had we been in a different setting, I would have liked to get them when baby was being born, but it was a bit difficult to work out all the logistics. They saw it all on videotape afterwards anyway.

  3. wow. i think i would totally leave the level of involvement of my boys completely up to them during that time. i would venture to guess that they would want no part of it, only to see the gray wiggly little guy (or girl) after he (or she) was duly born.

    i am not prego but would love to be! as far as a home birth, i am all for it but there is no way my husband would be remotely comfortable with the idea, especially after the complications during the birth of our second son.