When it comes to giving birth, if you’re the one doing all the hard work, you’re the one who can call the shots. Whether a woman decides to just have her partner and mom in the labor room, or she has a big support group including best friends, family members, and neighbors cheering her on, it’s a her choice.
A mom named Rebecca opted to have her 3-year-old daughter, Hunter, in the room. Her story, which was shared by Rebecca’s doula, Nicole Lahey, on her social media accounts, is stirring up a lot of mixed opinions.
“Hunter’s parents prepared her so well for this experience,” Lahey wrote next to a photo of the little girl cuddling her newborn sibling. “They discussed anatomy in proper terms. She knew the word ‘placenta,’ and she wasn’t afraid of the blood she saw.”
Lahey said Hunter didn’t “cower” when her mother “roared her brother out.” “She didn’t get nervous or concerned about it at all.”
Instead, the 3-year-old asked questions, played with her dolls, ate snacks, and entertained everyone in the room with her sweetness. But don’t think Hunter kept herself busy in the corner while her mom gave birth to her brother —Hunter was completely active in the birth.
“She held her brother’s head as he crowned, she cheered her mom on as she pushed him out, [and] she rubbed her mother’s hair so gently as they both gazed lovingly at this new tiny life in front of them.”
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This will be dubbed the famous couch. She will always remember how she birthed her son safely in their home while her daughter, Hunter, was the first person to touch his head as he crowned. I will be blogging this entire family centered birth story soon as it's too good not to share. #birthday #birthphoto #birthworker #birthdoula #longislandphotographer #longislandmoms #doulalife #birthbecomesher #birthphoto
When Hunter was asked is if she wanted to hold her newborn brother and the little girl said yes without hesitation. Lahey explained to Hunter that she should take her shirt off because “brand new babies love the feeling of your skin.” The toddler was comfortable to do so.
With her arms around her little brother, Lahey says Hunter was in heaven and didn’t want to give him back to her mom.
“She held him with the biggest smile as he bobbed his head around, looking for a breast. She giggled, as we told her he wanted to nurse,” explained the doula.
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Often clients ask me my thoughts on having children present at a birth. My answer is usually yes. Hunters parents prepared her so well for this experience. They discussed anatomy in proper terms. She knew the words "placenta" and she wasn't afraid of the blood she saw. She didn't cower when her mother roared her brother out and she didn't get nervous or concerned about it at all. She asked questions, she played with her babies, she ate snacks, and she kept us all entertained with her adorableness. She held her brothers head as he crowned, she cheered her mom on as she pushed him out, she rubbed her mothers hair so gently as they both gazed lovingly at this new tiny life in front of them. I said "Hunter, do you want to take your shirt off and hold your brother?" Without hesitation she began to take her shirt off but she did ask me why she was taking her shirt off. I replied "brand new babies love the feeling of your skin and you will love it too." She was in heaven and didn't want to give him back to his mom. She held him with the biggest smile as he bobbed his head around looking for a breast. She giggled as we told her he wanted to nurse. Birth is the most normal part of life; share it with your children and teach them from the beginning that birth is nothing to fear. Birth is strength. #birthphoto #birthbecomesher #doulalife #longislandmoms #longislandphotographer #birthwithoutfear #siblings #longislandborn #birthphotography #birthphotogs
Speaking with CafeMom, Lahey elaborated more on the birth. She said that Hunter helped her baby brother latch onto his mom’s nipple for the first time. She also inspected and felt his cord. “Birth is the most normal part of life; share it with your children and teach them from the beginning that birth is nothing to fear. Birth is strength,” Lahey wrote her post.
To many social media users, the story was inspiring and touching. However, not everyone supports Rebecca’s decision to have a 3-year-old participate in the birth of a baby.
“There are so many NO’S I don’t even know where to start,” wrote one.
Some joked that they wouldn’t let the kids watch a horror movie, let alone watch them give birth. Others, however, showed more concern.
“Childbirth is beautiful and sharing some parts of it with older siblings is beautiful also, but not EVERYTHING. Kids that young, no matter how prepared or informed, are not equipped with the same brain maturity as adults and what they may go through afterwards,” one commenter wrote.
Some social media users were quick to jump to Rebecca’s defense — they shared their own labor stories and calling out those who shamed her decisions. “We don’t know Hunter, maybe she’s more emotionally advanced than our kids, [and] her mama knows best. Moms don’t have time for judging!”
This post was written by Katie Skelly. For more, check out our sister site Now to Love.