The role of siblings in the birthing process is now recognized as a critical moment for sibling bonding, and help prevent sibling rivalry later within the family. Until recently, young siblings were not allowed to visit the hospital at a birth, and most are still prohibited or discouraged from being physically present at the birth of a brother or sister.
In home births, members of the nuclear and extended family form a support system for the parents. It’s more difficult to create this in highly regulated hospital birthing environments.
The research of Marshall Klaus, John Kennell, & Phyllis Klaus indicates that everyone who is present at a child’s birth automatically bonds with the child, not only reducing sibling rivalry but also child abuse that is common among siblings. Hospitals need to change their policies again as a result of the home-birthing movement and new research findings.
Mothers who have allowed older children to attend a birth recommend leaving the final choice to the older child. It is important to discuss siblings attending a birth ahead of time, and leaving it up to the child at the time of birth. They recommended letting older children move in and out of the room as they choose, and let their level of interest, the time of day, and other factors guide their choice.
Experienced mothers say that the easiest way to keep things flexible is to have a caretaker available just for your children, so that if they are ever uncomfortable or just plain bored or tired, they have a familiar person to tend to their needs. This allows mothers to stay focused on their labor.
One mother specified in her birth plan that her kids were to be kept happy so that she wouldn’t feel pulled away from her labor by hearing another of her children crying.