Siblings at a home birth - caring for older children

Preparing older siblings for a home birth and considering the practicalities is important. This article covers the care of other children at a home birth

Some women planning a home birth arrange for their children to be cared for elsewhere by a friend when they go into labour. Others are happy to keep them at home. The choice depends on you, what support you have available, and the time of day you go into labour.

Think about different plans depending on whether you need help looking after other children during the day or at night. If you did have to go to hospital, who would be able to stay with the other children?

If your children will be staying put, try to have somebody there just for them, so that your birth partner can concentrate on supporting you. Tell your children what noises they might hear, and what they might see if they come into the room. Think of specific activities that someone helping look after them can do while you’re in labour.

Feeling included

One way of helping other children feel included is to involve them in drawing pictures leading up to the birth or making a 'welcome' card for the new baby. You could look at books or videos about having a baby (see Further information below).

Some parents-to-be organise a special gift for their older child ‘from the baby'. Older children may feel very important after a home birth if they are allowed to sit down and hold the new baby.

Generally the environment at home is much more welcoming to older children than a hospital ward.

Some women employ a doula to provide support, and this may include looking after other children.

Further information

The results of the Birthplace study were released in December 2011 and provide useful information for parents about their choice of place of birth.

NCT's helpline offers practical and emotional support in all areas of pregnancy and early parenthood: 0300 330 0700. We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about labour and life with a new baby. We also run local NCT home birth support groups: call 0300 330 0770 or email enquiries@nct.org.uk to find one near you.

The Home Birth Reference Site provides information and opinions about having your baby at home, for parents who think that it might be the right choice for them, and for health professionals looking for resources. 

Which? and Birth ChoiceUK have developed a tool to help you find out what your choices are for giving birth in your area. This tool combines your preferences with research evidence to show the local options most suited to you.