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Childcare during labor and birth
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From teachinmama ~ I think I have everything lined up for my homebirth except this one thing. Ugh! I'm wondering what you all did . . . did you find someone to be with your children during labor or did you just have family (you, husband, kids, midwife) there?

Here's my situation. I can't find anyone *I* feel comfortable with having here. My husband's family is close and could do it, but they would make me TOTALLY nervous!! My mom is 3 hours away and *if* she makes it (I deliver rather quickly) I really want her in with me for the birth. I have several friends but no one that I feel would be comfortable with me birthing at home. I don't want someone in the other room who may be worried or disagrees with our decision. The only friend that offered (and she wanted homebirth's but had severe medical problems with her births so it wasn't an option) lives about 30 minutes away, has 4 children, homeschools them, and she doesn't drive!

What I was thinking of doing is buying some new videos, colors, coloring books, a small toy for each daughter, keep them hidden until I'm in labor, then give them their surprises (not all at once). They play very well together so I'm not worried about them running through the house (I've also talked to my oldest about how Mommy will probably want it quiet, etc). My husband isn't the best coach. He basically stands there and watches, so I would be ok with him going to the living room to check on them (a lot different than being in a hospital and having him leave the room and not being able to find him!).

Also, my labors aren't "hard" until my water breaks which has been at about 7cm or so (with my first daughter, it broke *after* I was complete and the bag was sticking out of me). After that is when I really have to concentrate to get through the contractions. Until then, I don't mind them coming in and talking to me. The only issue would be when I'm at the end . . . if they want to be in the room or not, or if they feel frightened in any way.

Part of me just wants it to be our family and the midwife. On the other hand, I know it would be wise to have someone lined up to come. I just can not think of anyone!! Any advice?

From mom2jazzygirl ~ We're in a similar situation. We just moved five hours from my family and three hours from MIL. My mother CANNOT be present because she is SO mad that I won't let her deliver, I could never trust her to actually take care of the children and not try to throw my midwife out. MIL can't be relied on to come. Furthermore, she is the epitome of why they used to make people boil water (she'll FREAK out and she's not supportive of homebirth).

Because we just moved, I haven't made friends with anyone well enough to ask them to watch my kids at home during a homebirth. And, the two friends I have would have to travel a VERY long distance. Since I'm not reliable for delivery, that's also not possible. I'm always early, but it can be anywhere from 4 days early to 2 weeks (if I follow my typical pattern).

Long and short of it is this. We will have only my husband, myself, the midwife and the kids present at our birth. Thankfully, I'm pretty coherent until the very end, and then I kinda go into a self-hypnotic state. Also, my water doesn't break until I'm ready to push.

I figure we'll wing it. My daughter is easy to distract with TV and activities. My son may be harder to distract, but perhaps he'll sleep through a lot of the labor. Even better, perhaps I'll deliver at night so they'll be asleep. Though, my daughter has specifically requested to be present to see her sister born AND to cut the cord. So, if she's asleep when I am delivering we will have to wake her up, no matter the time.

I figure we'll get through it somehow.

From teachinmama ~ Thanks for sharing! It's nice to know we aren't the only ones in this situation! Almost every homebirth mom I talk to has had someone lined up for months!! I also thought about laboring at night. If that's the case I'm not sure when to wake up my daughters. I think emotionally for my oldest (she is VERY sensitive to change), she needs to be awake and aware that the baby is coming. I may let my youngest sleep until the end; that way, she'll probably be awake but groggy.

From Robin ~ Does your midwife know of a reliable student or anybody else who she might recommend?

From teachinmama ~ I have talked to my midwife once about this, but I was still trying to think of someone. She didn't really have any suggestions other than to keep thinking about it. My oldest daughter is VERY sensitive to people she doesn't know. I'm not sure she would do ok with someone not involved in our lives.

From OzMum ~ Another thought, you said your husband's family is close (or the friends you mentioned) but you don't want them there with you whilst you're birthing; could your daughter's go to their house? Either your husband could drop them off early in labour or they could collect them and then bring them back when you're ready for them.

From JuliaP ~ How about a doula? Doulas roles are usually more involved than simply childcare, but I think that would be your best bet. She'd be happy to be on-call, she'd know what women in labour need (quiet, respect), she'd come over and get familiar with the kids ahead of time, and she'd be able to explain things to the kids (that white stuff all over the baby protects its skin while it's inside mommy's tummy, etc etc). In my experience as a doula, children need an adult companion for birth, and unless you're fine with your hubby missing the birth because he's taking the kids to the park because they got overwhelmed or restless, I would try my best to set something up.

From teachinmama ~ I wouldn't leave my daughters with my husband's family for even an hour! And, just like having one of them here, I don't really want my daughters with someone who is feeling apprehensive about me being at home. Plus, I want them here for the birth. Part of my reason for having a homebirth is making it a family event. Doula . . . great idea, but from what I've heard about doula fees, it's kinda expensive. We can't afford it on top of midwife fees, lab fees, etc. I may check it out though. I don't mean to have a negative reason for the things being suggested (they are good ideas). I just can't seem to find something that I am comfortable with.

From mom2jazzygirl ~ I am SO with you on not affording a doula. Besides, there is only ONE available in our area (the current president of DONA no less). She's actually a midwife and former doula. But, she isn't taking ANY clients for the month I am due. Besides, no WAY I would entrust my kids to someone I barely know while in labor. Their lives revolve around me, and frankly there is no way I'd be able to work at laboring if I was worried about my kids. Besides, I let my mother bully me into sending my daughter away while I birthed my son and I regret it to this day. I could have handled her presence perfectly FINE and deeply wish that I had kept her with me.

I'm not new to birthing or homebirthing either. This is my fourth homebirth. And, this time, I am going with MY gut feelings. I am keeping my children close and neither sending them away NOR having someone who they don't know in charge of them. While I would love to have someone close to them present for them, it's not an option. And, frankly I just do NOT think it's wise to have someone who isn't close to them around. Even if I did, my midwife is traveling 2 HOURS to come attend my birth. I doubt she would know someone willing to come watch the kids for me.

But, I know how I labor. I'm not a screamer. I handle labor quite well, and things only get intense when I hit transition, which has never lasted more than 1:40. Unless this child is NOT the size I believe her to be, I simply do NOT anticipate a rough labor with her. My last one had a 16 inch head and was posterior. He actually had to rotate AS he descended. After that, I doubt there's much my pelvis CAN'T handle.

I just don't think it's as terrible as people make it out to be. I don't really anticipate real problems. The kids are good at playing and entertaining themselves. The ONLY thing that could become an issue is if my son thinks my taking my top off means its open game to nurse. But, if that happens, we'll deal with it. Heck, I can always hop in the pool where he KNOWS he can't get to the boobies. I'll feel better, and the kids will be way too busy playing to CARE what mommy is doing at that point.

From cookiev ~ If you're concerned about the cost of a doula, I know that there are many doulas in training who are looking to get experience and/or attendance at births who do not charge a fee. It may be worth it to contact a doula organization and ask for a referral list of non-certified doulas in your area. The doula will meet with you beforehand so you can let her know what you expect of her and she and your kids can meet and get comfortable with one another. I just thought I would interject that because if you don't have any other options, the doula route IS possible if you want to check into it.

From huntergirl ~ I think it mostly depends on your children. Emma would have been OK by herself, but not Alison. If Alison is not focused on something, then she wants to be the center of attention. And her attention span was practically non-existent when Ingrid was born, and was not much better when the boys were born. I didn't think of people I'd be comfortable with at my births; I thought about who would my kids be comfortable with. Ingrid was only 16.5 months old when the boys were born; she really didn't understand what was happening, and was very worried about me, so I'm very glad her Pop-Pop was there for her! My husband was an active participant in all our births and would have hated to leave my side, even if it was to check on the kids. As it was, he was generally more involved and helpful than the midwife. When I'm in labor, I go into sort of a trance and he just knows what to do; it's like a psychic connection! For him to be there completely for me, which was how we wanted things, we *needed* someone to look after our kids.

But it sounds to me like your situation would work fine. I would recommend that you dole out the "birthday" toys and activities slowly, as they lose interest in the first thing, here's a more interesting something! String them along. Good luck with your birth!

From teachinmama ~ Thanks for sharing Hunter! Yes, I'm going to have my husband give them things little by little. I forgot to mention that in my first post. I talked to my oldest today about what will happen, and I asked something like "Will Mommy want it noisy or quiet when the baby's coming?" She answered "quiet". So, she understands. I think I'll just keep talking to her about it often to reinforce what the plan is.

From BrandiL ~ I am in the same situation and this is my plan: My mom is supposed to be here on vacation for two weeks around my due date - if I go early she lives four hours away and probably won't make it in time. I have my best friend lined up to look after my daughter if mom can't make it, but she will be out of town for a week so she might not be here either. If all else fails, our doula will call one of her partners in to look after my daughter while I'm in labour. I really feel it is important for my daughter to have someone there to reassure her that everything is ok, and to explain things to her if she has questions or gets scared. Also, if something happens where I have to transfer to a hospital, then there is already someone there to look after my daughter. I know it can be tough; I've been pulling my hair out over this one too because I don't want a complete stranger looking after my daughter either.

From djk42 ~ Make sure you find a book on homebirthing to read to your children. My midwives gave me one (don't remember the name) that showed a mother going out for walks, giving birth (drawings, not photos), then the whole family sleeping on the floor by the fire after the midwife leaves. It was a good book to talk about. If my kids were going to be there, we would have read it a lot and discussed it--a great vehicle for starting questions about how it will be for them while you are giving birth.

From teachinmama ~ Just an update . . . I talked to my midwife about this on Wednesday. She is perfectly fine with our plan. I asked her if it sounded ok and she told me we needed to do what we were comfortable with. She also reassured me that I'm doing a good job preparing the girls. I feel MUCH better now. So, the idea I posted in my first message is what we are going to do. I am going to call one friend of mine who is a few minutes away and ask if she would be willing to be "on call". If at some point it seems that Em is having a hard time, I'll call her to come over. But I don't want it to be where I'm IN labor and have her come sit. I only want her here if it's totally necessary. I was also thinking about my husband's role in the whole thing. He's not the best labor support. I think mostly because I've gone so fast with the girls, he just stands with me and watches. Just knowing he is there is enough for me.

djk42, we've read that book . . . Welcome With Love. GREAT BOOK!!!!!!!! We've also read other stuff and she's seen a birth (full total "mommy shot"). I've also discussed with her the parts involved (uterus, vagina, placenta, etc) and we've discussed, at her level, what's happening to Mommy, how Mommy feels, Mommy may make a little noise at the end (I'm not a noisy "birther"), etc. She was also in the hospital room (until a RN took her out when I was pushing) when her sister was born and she remembers it well. Right now I'm just reinforcing the things to her and answering her questions. Now that this part of the plan is settled I feel a lot more relaxed!!

From jennmomof1 ~ I plan on hiring a Doula to babysit and clean up this time. I know Rachel is too young to get really involved. Maybe with the next one.

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