There is so much joy and excitement expressed to expectant parents, but often we forget that siblings are expecting too.
Maybe we offer the common ‘aren’t you excited to have a little brother or sister?’ and leave it at that. But there are so many more ways to help your children prepare for a new sibling.
1. Take time to explain the happy news!
Some children (like my daughters) will cry happy tears and be thrilled, some may remain neutral on the subject, and still others may be disappointed and in denial. Validate how they feel and listen to them. Let them know that love grows! Explain that you won’t have to split your love between the baby and them, but that your heart will grow and expand to make room to love more and so will their heart. Give them time to process it.
2. Bring your kiddos to your prenatal appointments.
Ask your care provider to include them in whatever way possible. Maybe they can hold the doppler while listening to the baby’s heartbeat. Maybe they can help measure your belly. Ask the doctor to show your child the position in which your baby is laying.
3. Have your child pack a birth bag
There are two different kinds of bags: the homebirth bag and the hospital birth bag. For the mommy planning on birthing in a hospital, talk with your child about the arrangement you made for them… maybe its grandma’s house or their best friends house. Help them prepare a bag to pack. Explain that birth is spontaneous and can happen at any time, even in the middle of the night, so you may have to wake them up. Put something special in their bag, an unexpected gift, like a new book, a lego set, a movie, something to help entertain them as they await the chance to meet their sibling. For the homebirth bag, if your child is going to someone elses house, you can do the same as the hospital birth bag. If they plan to stay and attend your birth, perhaps then your could add some special snacks, print some coloring pages, and give them a disposable camera to document things from their perspective.
4. Let your children attend the birth
Making it a family affair will leave lasting memories. If you plan to have your children present at birth it is important to talk about what they can expect. Talk about the noises you might make… that some of them may sound like you are in pain, but you are just using a lot of power! Talk to them about the contractions, how they come in waves, and that during those waves you might need everyone to be quiet. Give them some ways to be helpful: getting you water in between contractions, getting daddy snacks and water, bringing a cold wash cloth to mommy’s head, singing to mommy and the baby in your belly, cutting the cord once baby is born, maybe they can announce the gender to everyone! ***If your children attend the birth, having someone on call to watch and care for their needs would be highly beneficial. And always have a backup plan in case they no longer wish to be there. You may want to check hospital policies before considering this decision.
5. Go with your child to buy a gift for the new baby
We all find joy in giving… I think kids enjoy it even more. Let them pick something out for their new baby brother or sister. If it is a book, help them write a note to their new sibling. Talk about the day their new sibling is born is the day you will celebrate the new baby’s birthday! You could even have a “0” birthday cake (cupcakes would probably be easier) with a candle and let the older children sing happy birthday to the new baby and blow out the candles.
6. Talk about postpartum.
This is an important conversation you can’t afford NOT to have. Your children need to know that mommy will be sore after having a baby. They need to know your care provider’s orders will be that you rest for a long time, that you can’t hold anything heavier then the baby for a few weeks. Talk about how the baby will probably want to be around mommy more than anyone else, and that mommy’s milk is important to helping baby grow strong and healthy. Explain and practice ways to snuggle with your child and let them know how important those snuggles are to you – no more running and jumping onto mommy, no more elbows and knees climbing all over your body. Tell them about all the ways they could be a big helper to you: getting you a cup of water, getting you baby’s diapers and wipes.
7. Take a Sibling’s Birth Class
Shenandoah Births is so thrilled to be hosting Birth Boot Camp For Siblings! This class is so AMAZING! Without going in to graphic details, instructors share in a child friendly, easy to understand way, the process of labor and birth. Kids get to see visual demonstrations, videos, and hand on activities that help them find their place in your growing family. Siblings want to prepare for an AMAZING birth also and this class is the way to do it!
Tell us how you prepared your kiddos for a new sibling! Comment below!
To schedule a private siblings class with Shenandoah Births, click here.
If you do not live in Winchester, Virginia and would like to find an Instructor near you, please click here.
Or perhaps you would like to buy the Birth Boot Camp Siblings Guide Book, please click here to be directed to your purchase. (This book is included in the live Siblings class)
I am a birth doula, childbirth educator, wife to an amazing man, and mother to four beautiful girls. I love serving families as they bring new life into the world!
Serving Virginia's Shenandoah Valley & West Virginia's Panhandle
Winchester // Stephenson // Stephens City // Strasburg // Berryville // Purceville // Leesburg // Inwood // Gerrardstown // Shepherdstown // Martinsburg // Charlestown // Middletown // Front Royal
Doula // Childbirth Educator // Placenta Encapsulation Specialist