If you’re considering having your baby at home but have older kids around too, here’s what you need to think about.
It might be something you want to do or a choice forced because of a lack of babysitting back-up.
Whatever the reason, some women decide to have their older children with them when they have a home birth. And if that’s your choice, there are lots of benefits – mostly of sharing such a huge experience as a family.
Practically though, it’s also one of the key reasons women choose to give birth at home. Making arrangements for other children is a lot simpler when you’re not laying in hospital with no idea when you’ll be discharged.
Advantages of siblings attending birth
- You won’t have to get your children out of bed in the middle of the night if that’s when you go into labour.
- They won’t have to stay away from home like they would if you were having a hospital birth. So it will be less disruptive to their routine.
- You can just focus on your hospital bag – you won’t have to think about packing theirs too.
- They’ll be able to hold the baby much sooner after a home birth and that will make them feel super important.
- Your older kids are likely to feel much more comfortable in their own home than if they came in to see you in hospital. This can help if they’re a bit confused or overwhelmed by the idea of a new addition to your family.
Disadvantages of siblings attending birth
- Your birth partner might be distracted from looking after and focusing on you with the children around (especially if the birth partner is the children’s parent).
- There might be parts of the birth you don’t want your children to see or hear, for example if you or the baby is in distress.
- Depending on their age, they might get upset that they can’t come in and see you at certain points when they know you’re there.
- You’ll still need somebody to look after them, even if it’s at your home. So it doesn’t totally take away the issue of childcare.
Preparing your older children for a home birth
If you do have your children with you when you give birth, they will still need someone’s full attention. There’s a chance you might be a tiny bit distracted. And the same goes for your birth partner.
You could consider having your kids looked after by a friend or another member of the family. You should also:
- Chat to your children openly about what noises they could hear and what they might see if they come into the room.
- Make a list of things that the person or people looking after your children can do with them while you’re having your baby. Also prep the person or people. You could get sticker books or films that your children like, and suggest craft activities and playing in the garden.
How to prepare older children for a new baby
Whatever type of birth you go for, it’s a great idea to get any older children involved in the whole new baby process as soon as possible.
You can do this by:
- Getting them to draw pictures of the baby or how your family will look after they’re born in the run up to the baby coming.
- Making a welcome card for the new baby with them.
- Looking together at books or YouTube clips about having a baby.
- Organising for the baby to ‘bring’ a present with them for their older brother or sister.
- Letting them hold their new brother and sister as soon as possible after they’re born.
This page was last reviewed in October 2018
Our support line offers practical and emotional support with feeding your baby and general enquiries for parents, members and volunteers: 0300 330 0700.
We also offer antenatal courses which are a great way to find out more about birth, labour and life with a new baby.
Make friends with other parents-to-be and new parents in your local area for support and friendship by seeing what NCT activities are happening nearby.
NCT home birth support groups: call 0300 330 0770 or email email@example.com 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.