Birth and labor is a painful, difficult, and often scary process. Most women want at least someone they know well, trust, and love by their side for it. This woman not only had her husband there but her two young sons, as well. A birth photographer captured the beautiful moments on camera as her 9-year-old son supported her from start to finish. (1)
Mom’s 9-Year-Old Son Supports Her Through Birth and Labor
Ohio mom Hollie Lau was a mom of two boys, aged seven and nine, and was pregnant with a third – a baby girl. The growing baby’s older brothers were very excited about her arrival. So excited, in fact, that they want to be there for her birth – all of it. Their parents decided that, with proper preparation, this would be okay.
The couple made sure that their sons were prepared for what birth and labor would entail. The boys came to childbirth education classes and spent a lot of time talking with their parents about what they would witness in the delivery room.
“This helped normalize birth to them and helped them understand I was safe the entire time,” Hollie explained. “Birth can look scary and overwhelming, so we wanted to mentally prepare them.”
Finally, the day arrived.
A Beautiful Moment Between Mother And Son
The couple invited birth photographer Milk and Hannah into the delivery room (pre-COVID) to capture the family experience. While both boys were very supportive, it was 9-year-old Charlie who was there for Hollie every step of the way.
During contractions, he held her hair back and rubbed his mom’s neck. He let her lean on him when she needed her and stayed solid through the pains of birth and labor. He held her hand when she needed it.
When the baby was ready, Charlie and his younger brother Hank were there to watch the crowning. Charlie was even the one to receive his little sister when she was finally born. Though Hollie said that the crowning part was the most surprising for them, they were very excited.
“To actually begin to see their sister and the top of her head after I worked so hard through labor was exciting for them,” she said.
Afterward, they had a beautiful family moment while Hollie breastfed their baby sister for the first time. The boys were extremely loving and took care of their mom while she was feeding the baby. Hollie said she wouldn’t change that experience with her sons for anything in the world.
“Once she was born both the boys sat with us as I breastfeed for the first time and tenderly took care of me,” she recalled. “Pulled my blankets up around us, brushed my hair out of my face, and just stared at their new sister as we cuddled together. It was magical.”
Should You Allow Your Children In The Delivery Room?
Of course, after Hollie shared some of the photos online, she received some pretty harsh backlash. Some Instagram accounts that shared her photos received almost entirely negative feedback. This, however, does not bother Hollie at all. To her, it just proves that we need to change the rhetoric around birth and labor.
“Many people sexualize birth because it uses the same body parts,” she explained.“It’s a normal part of life and we treated it like a science lesson. Every living thing makes more of its own kind. This is how humans bring life into the world. When we can normalize it, children grow up being more body positive.”
She says we shouldn’t hide childbirth and breastfeeding from our children. Rather, we should normalize it, as it is a normal part of life.
How To Prepare Your Kids For The Delivery Room
Having your kids attend their sibling’s birth is a personal decision. It is also one that you should make with them. Talk to them about it, explain (without sugar-coating it) what can happen, and let them decide for themselves. If you are uncomfortable or nervous as to how your child may react, then don’t invite them. If you are comfortable with this, then prepare them. Some experts say that under five years is too young, others say that age doesn’t matter, rather the curiosity and the preparedness of the child. (2)
“There is no magical age,” says Ann Linden, a midwife in New York City. “In fact, certain children may be comfortable with the idea at age 7, for example, and aghast at the thought at age 12, and interested again at age 15.”
Before The Birth
If your child wants to be there then there are several things you can do to prepare them. Discuss birth, read books, and watch videos with them. Make sure that they know that you won’t be able to mother them during the process. Assign an adult to be their caregiver who can focus solely on them and give them support should they need it.
During Labor and Delivery
This caregiver can remove them from the room if they need it, bring them food and snacks, and in general just make sure they are supported and taken care of. Make sure the child knows they have the option to come and go if they want, and at any point if they don’t wish to be in the room, they can leave. If they choose to leave, make sure they know that they can re-enter at any point, including after the baby is born.
If your child is quite young, perhaps invite them in only for the actual birth. Labor can be long and difficult, and watching their mom go through it can be very challenging for a young child. Also, if at any point you decide you don’t want your child in the room, you can ask them to leave. Make sure they know ahead of time that this could happen.
After The Baby Is Born
Finally, be sure to discuss the birth with your child afterward. They have just witnessed something that could be scary but also is quite incredible. Make sure they have a space to talk about and discuss what they just saw. Additionally, if the birth ended up being quite traumatic, make sure they receive the physical and mental care they need afterward so they aren’t affected long-term by that trauma.