Including Siblings in the Birth Experience

Including Siblings in the Birth Experience

Are you considering including your older child or children in the birth of their sibling? While not for everyone, having your other children present at the birth can be a great experience for all of you.  Still, there are a number of factors to consider when making this decision – your child’s age and temperament, the time of day you wind up going into labor, and where you are planning to give birth, to name a few.


If you and your children have mutually decided that they will be present at the birth, consider the following to make the birth a safe, happy, and memorable experience for all.

Follow the child’s lead at the birth. One of the many benefits of birth centers is the comfortable, home-like environment.  During labor, allow your older child to call the shots on where they would like to be.  They may wander in and out of the labor room, have a snack in the kitchen, or play games in the living room.  Honor their feelings and allow them the freedom to choose where they are most comfortable, which may or may not be in the birthing room itself.

ALWAYS bring someone aside from your birth partner to be the primary caregiver during labor and birth. For a number of reasons, it’s best if you bring someone who can be completely focused on your other children.  As the laboring person, you should be relaxed and focused on labor, and your birth partner should be focused on you.  It can be a difficult balance for the non-laboring parent to care for a child (who may be experiencing some big emotions) but also be fully present and able to support the person in labor.  Additionally, if labor takes an extended amount of time or there is an emergency or hospital transfer, it may be necessary for someone to take your other children home.

Talk about birth ahead of time. In terms that are appropriate for your child’s age, explain what may happen during labor and the basics of birth (where the baby comes out, what an umbilical cord is).

  • “Mommy may not seem very happy. She may seem sad and angry, or she may be very quiet.”
  • “Mommy might make some loud noises like this (insert grunts, groans, etc.).  It may sound strange or silly, but those sounds help mommy get the baby out!”
  • “If mommy is in the bath tub, it may turn a different color like pink or red when the baby is born.”
  • “When the baby is born, it may not look very clean! He may be slippery or be covered with white stuff or have blood on him, and that’s OK!”

Consider bringing your children to the birth center ahead of time and also to an appointment with the midwife so they feel included in the process and can ask questions of the midwife

Pack a bag for your child. In addition to basics like comfortable clothes, snacks, etc., pack some activities for your child and their designated caregiver.  For younger children especially, provide some new toys or art supplies they have never seen before.

Assign roles. For older children who have chosen to be present at the birth, talk ahead of time about what their role may be at the birth.  Do they wish to be in another room but present for the actual birth? Or the opposite? Some older children will happily and instinctively jump into a doula role, bringing you water, fanning you to keep you cool, holding your hand, and staying by your side.  If this is your child, talk ahead of time about how they can be helpful.  If this is not your child, have a conversation about what they are comfortable with and assure them whatever they decide is fine with you.

Did your older children attend your birth? What advice would you give other families? Tell us in the comments!

Diana Petersen M.Ed., LCCE

Diana Petersen M.Ed., LCCE

Director of Education, Babymoon Inn

Diana Petersen received her journalism degree at the University of Arizona and her Master’s degree in education at Northern Arizona University.  She is a DONA-certified doula and Lamaze-certified childbirth educator at Babymoon Inn, an accredited birth center and full-scope midwifery practice in Phoenix, Arizona.

Building Birth Centers and Community Support

Building Birth Centers and Community Support

Recently, we launched an Indiegogo campaign to help raise funds to support expansion to Tucson – a city of more than 500,000 people left without a freestanding birth center after the closure of the beloved El Rio Birth Center earlier this year. We heard and felt the heartbreak from the Tucson community upon suffering this loss and decided, after almost 10 years as a singular location in Phoenix, to expand to Tucson and fulfill the need for a freestanding birth center.

Anyone who has ever set foot in a birth center knows they are an integral part of communities. And they often rely on community support to be born and subsequently thrive. We see building a birth center as the modern-day equivalent of a barn-raising, where people come together to create something that is vital to their community. It truly takes a village, and we are grateful for the support in many forms that we have received thus far!

A few things to understand about birth centers and why we are asking for community support through a fundraising campaign to get Babymoon Inn of Tucson off the ground:

Birth center profits are lower than most healthcare organizations, including not-for-profit organizations. Most birth centers earn no profit for the first couple of years, and when a profit margin shows up, it almost always goes toward program development. In 2018, eight accredited birth centers in the United States closed. So far in 2019, eight more accredited birth centers have closed, with a ninth announcing their closure after 13 years in operation literally as we were writing this post.

Obtaining funding for birth centers is difficult. We are not attractive to private investors for start-up money because we are too small, don’t have rapid growth opportunities, are not quickly scalable, and are not a well-understood service or industry. (How many of you struggled to get your friends or family to understand why you chose a birth center? Now try explaining it to them and asking them to invest money on top it! 😂)

Birth centers provide extensive community support and services, much of which is provided at no charge to the clients and solely at the expense of the birth center.  At Babymoon, we frequently discount, extend payment plans, and provide pro bono services for families with financial hardship.  These services are not subsidized by grants or foundations who support our organization. They come directly out of our bottom line.  This philosophy is shared by every member of our team, who frequently volunteer their time and talents to serve our community – offering free classes, providing pro bono doula services, speaking in high school and college classes, making meals for new or bereaved parents, and donating their time in countless other ways.

While some birth centers have chosen to be not-for-profit entities, Babymoon has not. This was a well-researched and thoughtfully made choice upon our opening in 2010. Non-profit organizations are governed by a Board of Directors who retain ultimate decision-making power. If profit margins are too low or consistently in the negative, the board may choose to shut the business down. This has happened to many, many not-for-profit birth centers. Babymoon’s founders didn’t and don’t want to put control of so many people’s care into someone else’s hands. Deciding against being a non-profit was a purposeful choice that doesn’t prevent or stop our desire to help underserved populations and make birth center and midwifery care attainable for all.

We wish people were lining up in droves to open birth centers all over the country. And we wish investors were pounding on our doors wanting to help fund them! The reality is that freestanding birth centers are usually created and staffed by people who are simply passionate about the model of care and willing to work twice as hard for a lesser profit margin.

We hope you will join us in our “barn-raising” and help bring a freestanding birth center back to Tucson! If you would like to contribute, please find our Indiegogo link here. To join our mailing list, please click here.

Thank you for your support!

Diana Petersen M.Ed., LCCE

Diana Petersen M.Ed., LCCE

Director of Education, Babymoon Inn

Diana Petersen received her journalism degree at the University of Arizona and her Master’s degree in education at Northern Arizona University.  She is a DONA-certified doula and Lamaze-certified childbirth educator at Babymoon Inn, an accredited birth center and full-scope midwifery practice in Phoenix, Arizona.

Why We Don’t Know Much About Medications for Pregnant Moms

Why We Don’t Know Much About Medications for Pregnant Moms

Have you ever wondered why many medications aren’t studied in pregnant women?  Have you noticed that even most over-the-counter medications or supplements carry the warning to “consult with your provider” before using in pregnancy?  Did you know that up to 95% of late-stage clinical trials still exclude pregnant women AND is estimated that over 50% of pregnant women take some kind of medication?  A recent study calls for change!

Commentary by Mallory Locklear:

But for most medications, we have no idea how they work in pregnant women because we’ve never studied it. And with such little information, some pregnant women choose to err on the side of caution, which could mean suffering through pain, discontinuing antidepressants, and putting themselves at risk of disease.
There are a few reasons for this. First, there’s the fear of harming the fetus. In the 1950s the drug thalidomide was prescribed to pregnant women as a way to treat morning sickness. But after thousands of babies were born with limb deformities, it became clear that medications taken by a pregnant woman posed a risk to the fetus she carried.

This was further emphasized by diethylstilbestrol, a drug once thought to prevent miscarriages and later found to cause vaginal tumors in females exposed to it in the womb. Pregnant women and even women of childbearing age were then explicitly excluded from clinical trials for some time. Once the underrepresentation of women in clinical trials was recognized as a problem and including them in trials became a priority in the 1990s, it was strongly suggested that they either use contraception or abstain from sex while taking part in trials. Currently, up to 95 percent of late-stage clinical trials still explicitly exclude pregnant women.
Other reasons are more financially-based. “The market for pregnant women is much smaller than the general market,” says Costantine. This means drug companies don’t want to take a risk on a smaller slice of the market, especially when there are no regulations in place to protect them from legal action if something went wrong.
If a woman needs a medication while pregnant or was already using one prior to pregnancy, her doctor has to anticipate and measure any potential changes in its therapeutic effect. “For some drugs you follow the concentration in the blood and adjust the doses accordingly,” says Costantine.

Read the entire article…

Preterm Birth May Be Early Warning of Heart Disease in Women

Preterm Birth May Be Early Warning of Heart Disease in Women

A new study shows that preterm birth is “independently predictive” of heart disease in women.  The study adjusted for other factors such as pre-pregnancy lifestyle and other risk factors for heart disease.  The information is very useful to counsel women on preventative care and early detection.

Read the study (and abstract).

Do Weekend Deliveries Pose Risks for Moms?

Do Weekend Deliveries Pose Risks for Moms?

Did you know that maternal mortality rates have more than doubled since 1990?  A recent study (presented at a conference in Las Vegas and soon to be published) looks at the rates of weekend deliveries and the increased risk of maternal death.  Steven Reinberg, HealthDay Reporter with  US News & World Report  summarizes the study:

For the study, researchers reviewed outcomes from more than 45 million pregnancies in the United States between 2004 and 2014. They found a slightly increased risk of death among mothers who delivered over the weekend — about 21 per 100,000 deliveries, compared with about 15 per 100,000 during the week.

The Baylor researchers also found that weekend deliveries were linked to the need for more maternal blood transfusions and more tearing in the area between the vagina and anus (perineum). In addition, neonatal intensive care unit admissions, neonatal seizures and antibiotic use all rose on weekends, compared with other times of the week, the study reported.

“There is clearly something different about the health care offered to women on the weekends,” Clark said.

Although the exact reasons for this weekend effect aren’t known, several factors may be in play, he speculated.

“It may be that there are less experienced people on weekend shifts,” Clark said. “That’s commonly seen in nursing and physician staffing. It may also be that people on those shifts are tired.”

Or, it may be that doctors are distracted, Clark said. “They may not be focused on patient care, but rather other things they want to do on the weekend,” he said. “Our data does not allow us to say which of these things is linked to worse care.”

Something about weekend care appears to need changing, Clark said. But because the reasons for these problems aren’t known, the changes needed aren’t clear, he said.

Dr. Mitchell Kramer, chairman of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwell Health’s Huntington Hospital in Huntington, N.Y., questioned the study’s findings.

“They are grasping at straws to explain why infant and maternal mortality rates increase on weekends,” Kramer said. “I think it’s more complex than what they say.”

Kramer said he found the notion that doctors are distracted and patients fare worse over the weekend “disturbing and insulting. That comment alone makes me very dubious about the results of this study,” he said.

“In my hospital, patients get the same care on weekends that they get during the week,” he said.

Clark, however, sees the weekend effect as one possible reason for the overall higher maternal mortality in the United States, compared with other countries.

Moreover, the rate of maternal death in the United States is increasing, Clark said. It’s more than double what it was in 1990, he said.

For more, read the entire discussion here.

For more information on deaths during childbirth, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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