Children at homebirth; just whose needs are being met?

woman screaming

There is a disturbing homebirth photograph that is now circulating on the web.

You can find the photograph here.

Those posting and sharing the photo find it charming. I find it emblematic of so much that is wrong with homebirth.

What does the photo depict? It’s a picture of a young girl about four years old trying to provide counter pressure on her mother’s lower back during a contraction.

Why is it disturbing to me? Because it captures the overweening narcissism of homebirth, where the mother is the star of her little piece of performance art, everyone else (including the baby) is just a prop, and the mother is elevating her need for attention and validation above the needs of her own children (in this case the four year old).

Simply put, it is never appropriate for a small child to attend a homebirth. Childbirth belongs to the realm of experiences that are too intense and disturbing to be viewed by young children. Just as it is inappropriate for children witnessing their parents having sex, or scenes of graphic violence, and scenes of gore, it is inappropriate for a young child to witness a homebirth.

Moreover, it is never appropriate for a small child to provide care to a parent. It is not appropriate to ask a child to hold the basin when her mother vomits due to chemotherapy. It is not appropriate to ask a child to change her mother’s dressing after surgery. It is not appropriate for a child to console a mother in severe pain. It is the parent’s job to support the child, NOT vice versa.

All children, especially small children, need to feel that their parents are strong and can protect them. No child should be asked to witness a parent in severe pain or to provide the care that should be provided by another adult.

Rule of thumb: If your child will be disturbed by the movie Bambi, he or she should never be at a homebirth.

So why do women surround themselves with their older children at homebirth? Simple: to show off. This is Mom’s big moment. She’s the star and everyone should bend themselves to her need for attention, support and validation.

The truth is that it is an abrogation of parental responsibility to have a small child at a homebirth. It’s no different from asking your four year old to help you parse the details of your divorce or to confide the trauma of your sexual dysfunction to him or her.

Make no mistake: this has nothing to do with the inherent beauty of childbirth. And don’t bother to claim that small children witnessed birth in nature; they didn’t since most indigenous cultures segregate women in labor and do not allow men or children near them.

It is not charming for a little girl to support her mother through labor. It is developmentally inappropriate, and deeply, unforgivably selfish.

370 Responses to “Children at homebirth; just whose needs are being met?”

  1. holly
    April 23, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

    The homebirth aside, this post really seems to me to be about differences in parenting philosophies. Some parents believe it would be inappropriate for a child to be at a birth. Other parents believe otherwise. Some parents believe it would be inappropriate to show your child a dead body at an open casket wake. Other parents believe otherwise. Some parents believe it would be inappropriate to take a child to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC. Other parents believe otherwise. Some parents believe it would be inappropriate to allow your children to attend a Pride Parade. Other parents believe otherwise.

    People do things differently than you when it comes to parenting, and that’s okay. Unless there is data showing that witnessing childbirth or attending an open casket wake leads to childhood trauma of some sort then it’s all really just a difference in opinion.

  2. Lina
    April 21, 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    There’s nothing wrong with that picture and a mother is definitely not the star in labor or selfish obviously you haven’t had natural childbirth it is painful taking drugs in labor is worse than natural childbirth… Have you been dropped on your head or are you upset because you
    Yourself could not achieve natural childbirth ? Get a hobby and get over it!

  3. jmd
    April 16, 2014 at 1:32 am #

    Wow, the girl is 8 and not 4? Well let’s let her snort a line and have group sex. It’s inappropriate for a kid to have that responsibility as if she can process things like this as an adult would.

  4. Honeybeez
    April 15, 2014 at 5:25 pm #

    Man….this woman is highly disturbed. I homebirth. I personally, however, had 2 at a hospital so I knew what to expect and how my body would react as well as doing the RESPONSIBLE thing by knowing for sure my baby was ok from multiple ultrasounds and etc…
    Im sorry but Harvard…..hhhmmmm it seems the more education you PAY for, the less intelligent you become. It constrains you to thinking inside the box of pharmaceutical companies and doctors have to get paid so make everyone in America seem “unethical or irresponsible” to do what God intended us to do.
    Bragging about your credentials and your Harvard education shows how close minded you really are and how much you have lost touch with reality. And having your daughter there shows her that she should be proud of being a woman….THE WAY GOD MADE HER! And lets compare childbirth to Bambi???? hahaha are you serious?? Let’s compare the true story of death to a child. Come on lady, who are you kidding here??
    I hope you seriously get some first hand experience with life outside of the books you paid so much for.
    (My credentials…I was accepted to Harvard as well. Chose not to go due to wanting a family and a life more grounded than books could contain. I also have delivered children in a hospital setting as well as at home. I prefer home. Im sorry but there is nothing natural about having cold heartless hospital staff ripping your baby from you, putting gunk in their eyes and shooting them full of drugs as soon as they are born, hassling you about your choice for breastfeeding and coming in your room while you are asleep and…without permission I remind you…pulling your underwear around to check your bleeding like you cannot even muster the two brain cells it would take to ASK how you are doing.) Been there…done that.
    Wake up lady, you need a good, honest, real wake up call!

    • guest
      April 16, 2014 at 9:54 am #

      You were accepted to Harvard. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That was a good one.

      • Siri
        April 16, 2014 at 11:24 am #

        The Harvard daycare centre? At the age of 2? Seems the most likely scenario.

      • Bombshellrisa
        April 16, 2014 at 12:47 pm #

        No! Next she is going to be telling us what her GPA was-you know, like everyone does when they want to be taken seriously after making a fool of themselves on their first parachute in here

    • LibrarianSarah
      April 16, 2014 at 10:13 am #

      TLDR Version: I don’t need no education. Skool is stuepid.

      Amy doesn’t even mention Harvard in the particular post so I think your own anti-intellectualism is getting ahead of you.

    • Siri
      April 16, 2014 at 11:30 am #

      In other words you missed out on higher and/or further education by getting pregnant at a young age, and feel so bitter about it you absolutely hate women who manage to have both an education, a career AND a family. That’s your inferiority complex speaking, Honey, not a reflection on Dr Tuteur. And your prejudiced ideas of hospital birth prove conclusively that you’ve never worked anywhere near a maternity ward.

    • April 16, 2014 at 11:52 am #

      Right, because God never intended for women to use the brains He gave us. Because that makes sense. Stop all this book learnin’ and gestate!

      • anion
        April 16, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

        Well, she’s thinking out of the box, see, unlike sheeple such as Dr. Amy. We just believe whatever junk we’re told from books (as if they have anything to teach us!) and blindly follow whatever they say, whereas she’s thinking about what God wants her to do and how God created her, the way true iconoclasts do.

    • Susan
      April 16, 2014 at 12:14 pm #

      If I had been accepted at Harvard and chose be a homebirth internet fool instead I would probably be pretty bitter about the way my life turned out too.

      • Honeybeez
        April 16, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

        Again…lol thanks for proving my point 🙂
        Ignorance to facts, you have no idea these women’s backgrounds. Not all women are putting their baby’s life at risk. I have nothing to prove here, just shared an opinion. Must have been a good one because it made alot of you so upset lol
        Guess I hit a nerve.
        Funny how you all who have a problem with it are the minority
        I have NO regrets about the path I chose btw…

        • Susan
          April 16, 2014 at 12:58 pm #

          Seriously, great you have no regrets. I am serious I would. Actually we have tons in common, I too had a great homebirth experience and was a young mom who had every opportunity for a great education. Not quite accepted to Harvard but I toured there as a teen and have a sort of family legacy connection there. I blew that chance before it was that close but I so respect people who had the discipline and self respect and values to pull it off. Yes, I have regrets. Hope you are at peace with it for the rest of your life. I know I could have written your post in my early twenties; though I am sure glad there was no internet to never forget what I said.

          • Honeybeez
            April 17, 2014 at 10:17 am #

            I stand by what I said fully and justly. I will say however, not everyone who has a home birth should. I personally do not agree with VBAC being safe for home. I also do not agree with first time birthers staying home as they do not know what their body is going to do, if they are at risk for too big babies or ANYONE who is not very low risk. JMO. I, am very low risk, have had several babies, have a midwife with an M.D. and am 1 block from one of the biggest, most prestigious hospital In Dallas. My longest labor was just under 2 hours and I’ve never had pain killers. SO…In my case, I’ve made an educated decision to home birth. No, I do not think it’s for everyone and anyone who does so knowing of a potential problem, should not!
            That being said, it’s not my business what every other woman does or what decision she makes but I think the regulations on midwives is in dire need for revamping. That is what I feel yall should be focusing on.
            Also, I am not in my early 20s but in my 30s. I too, am 38 weeks pregnant and will be delivering at home any day now. Funny, as I sit here in my midwife’s office, I feel very confident I have made the right choice for me and my baby.
            I just thank God for advances in modern medicine for those who need it and hope everyone who chooses to homebirth make a VERY educated decision to do so. I’ve lived my life being as educated as possible before making any decision so I do not have any regrets. I know I’ve made some poor choices in my past, as everyone, however, I DO NOT regret making them. They have made me who I am today. 🙂
            I’m sorry, I just do not agree with anyone who bashes homebirthing at a whole instead of focusing on the real problem. At least we are those women years ago working in rice fields, pushing out their babies, tieing them to their chests then going back to work. 🙂

          • Guestll
            April 17, 2014 at 10:48 am #

            “At least we are those women years ago working in rice fields, pushing out their babies, tieing being them to their chests then going back to work.”

            I’m guessing you aced the Math portion?

          • Guestll
            April 17, 2014 at 10:52 am #

            …of the SAT? (damn you, Disqus) because clearly, writing, vocab, and critical reading are not your strengths.

            Also what do you do for a living in a rice field, and where? Do you also walk miles for your water? Ever seen one or more of your kids suffer from malaria? Ever watch one of them expire from shitting to death?

          • Dr Kitty
            April 18, 2014 at 5:08 am #

            Honeybeez- may I direct your attention to the blogroll.

            Dr Jeevan Kuruvilla’s blog The Learner is written by an Indian Obstetrician working in a rural hospital.
            He has very graphic pictures of what happens to those women who work in rice fields all day.

            They have obstructed labours, uterine ruptures, untreated eclampsia. Their traditional birth attendants and local healers inject IM pitocin or try abdominal massage or Ayurvedic medicine- which usually makes the situation worse.

            Usually by the time they reach him their babies are dead and they are almost dead themselves.

          • Stacy21629
            April 18, 2014 at 5:36 am #

            That blog is so sad. Seeing the obstetrical histories – G5P3L1; G6P4L2…so sterile when reduced to numbers that way and yet each one of those is a baby. A pregnancy. Carried within a mother for so many months and then miscarried, dead at/shortly after birth or dead in early childhood. And people in America want to birth like that? “Natural” in the rice fields? Hysterical.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            April 17, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

            I, am very low risk, have had several babies, have a midwife with an
            M.D. and am 1 block from one of the biggest, most prestigious hospital
            In Dallas.

            That’s great. But if you have an amniotic fluid embolus you’re going to die. If you have sudden massive bleeding you may die. And so on.

            Also, if doctors, pharma, and hospitals are so evil, what does being near a hospital have to do with anything? If I were planning to give birth, I wouldn’t list among the precautions I took, “…and there’s a homeopathic pharmacy one block from the hospital!”: the distance to the nearest homeopath would be irrelevant because homeopathy couldn’t help me in an emergency. Or a non-emergency. If you think the hospital’s distance is relevant, it must be because you expect that they could help you and your baby in an emergency. Why not just go there in the first place and eliminate the small risk of a complication that can’t wait that “one block”?

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            April 17, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

            At least we are those women years ago working in rice fields, pushing
            out their babies, tieing them to their chests then going back to work.

            Sigh. Seriously, can’t home birth advocates EVER resist bringing up how genetically superior they think that they are?

          • Marie
            April 18, 2014 at 1:43 am #

            I’d like to bring a bit of realism to the educated fairy tale you’re spinning. From a perspective of experience. In any given pregnancy or birth, it’s never a given to predict what your body will do or what crisis may crop up with the baby. My 1st birth was filled with problems. On to birth # 2-Much larger baby, no problems whatsoever, even though because of the predicted size of the baby, my OB advised me that a C Section might be necessary. Birth #3-unexpected fetal heart decel, meconium in amniotic fluid, fetal respitory distress, requiring intervention post birth. Much smaller baby then #2. Due to extensive fetal monitoring & quick medical intervention, my child lived, without subsequent brain damage.
            So explain to me again about your “educated choices” & who this home birth experience is really about.
            You state that your midwife holds a medical degree. Is she a licensed Dr. who has full privelages at the distinguished hospital a block from your home? Are they an OB-GYN? I’m curious.

          • Box of Salt
            April 18, 2014 at 2:44 am #

            Honeybeez “I just do not agree with anyone who bashes homebirthing at a whole instead of focusing on the real problem.”

            You admit there is a problem, then, right?

            Well, what, in your opinion, is the real problem?

          • Stacy21629
            April 18, 2014 at 3:17 am #

            “At least we are those women years ago working in rice fields, pushing
            out their babies, tieing them to their chests then going back to work.”
            Why are you seeing a midwife then? How many midwives are on call in the rice fields? And you’re going RIGHT back to work – whatever that is? No time off at all?
            Lady, you’re nothing special. The women that are in those rice fields, pushing their babies out and going right back to work would gladly walk for MILES in LABOR to get to a hospital that would give them an increased chance for their baby to survive. Your choosing to forgo all that doesn’t make you special. It certainly doesn’t make you educated.

        • Stacy21629
          April 18, 2014 at 3:12 am #

          ” Not all women are putting their baby’s life at risk.”
          Except they are. All the statistics say so. MANA’s own paper, the CDC, everything. Just because you don’t *think* you are, doesn’t change that fact.

          “I have NO regrets about the path I chose btw…”
          Yes, well your children are alive. So that makes sense.

    • Bombshellrisa
      April 16, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

      Accepted at Harvard isn’t a credential. Graduating from Harvard is a credential. As for your overly dramatic rendition of homebirth bingo, I can only imagine it comes from trying to justify risking your babies’ lives and then raising them as anti-vax plague pits.

    • Guestll
      April 17, 2014 at 10:40 am #

      Oh, you were accepted to Harvard, but you didn’t go because you wanted a family and a “life more grounded”. Newsflash — those things aren’t mutually exclusive.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      April 17, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

      Poe? Is that you, Poe?

  5. seriously
    April 15, 2014 at 11:41 am #

    I find it interesting that you interpret childbirth as performance art. I think that says more about who you are as a human being than mothers who chose to have their family members present during birth. Narcissistic much?

    Also, FYI, this kid is a small 8 year old.

    • Anj Fabian
      April 15, 2014 at 11:52 am #

      Apparently. I’d be curious where she falls on the growth chart.

  6. April 15, 2014 at 11:20 am #

    Why do you hate women so much?

  7. workwithmehere
    April 14, 2014 at 11:53 pm #

    My worst memory (working) is a couple that came in with their not quite four year old with mom almost fully dilated and not coping, screaming and moaning. (It still makes me angry because the father shushed me when I introduced myself as I am ethically and legally required to do, “she wants silence”). When it was time to start pushing and the mom was losing her mind I suggested that the daughter go to the waiting room with the person caring for her because she was clearly uncomfortable and frightened by the situation. The mom said no because they had prepared for this and the daughter was so excited to do this.My hands were full because I was getting ready for imminent delivery and waiting for backup so I just kept on but when the mom started pushing and screaming while pushing the daughter was screaming too, “the baby is hurting my mommy! The baby is hurting my mommy!” The dad had to leave his wife and comfort his daughter who was becoming hysterical because they thought it was a good idea to do this as a family. I felt terrible for that girl and I still do. I am sure there are no good birth memories for that girl.

  8. LisaL
    April 14, 2014 at 9:22 pm #

    Nevermind the literal crap the mom is putting in to that water…. you can not tell me that that girl did not pee at least once when she got in to that pool. We all know that kids pee in the pool. So on top of momma’s poop, that baby had to be born in his/her sister’s urine as well.

  9. MamaBear
    April 13, 2014 at 2:41 pm #

    There is so much wrong with that picture. First of all. Who would let the child in the tub with her mom during labor? I would not want my children playing in water with fecal matter, blood, germs, etc. second, that 4-5 year old just became an adult in that moment. She should not see Mommy in that type of pain, she should not be the one making it better. The one who should be rubbing her back is her partner or doula. At her young age, she should not know where babies come from, or see it. That child should not be near there at all. She should be at the baysitter’s or friends house. I don’t agree with sheltering children, but there are some things you do not expose a child to at a young age.

  10. Fertile Myrtle
    April 13, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

    I wouldn’t make too many assumptions based on one photograph… Perhaps the child was only there during the calm parts of her mothers labor and was excited about meeting her long awaited sibling.
    Anyways, having a child present during labor seems like poor judgement if you think about how intense it can be. I’m pretty sure my husband was traumatized from seeing me in so much pain, I know he shed a few tears. I can’t imagine what a child would feel/think.

    • emkay
      April 13, 2014 at 11:45 pm #

      Oh, but you were only in pain because you didn’t trust birsth enough! Birth isn’t painful! it’s just SURGES of power and goddessliness and orgasmic

  11. Lion
    April 12, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

    Very we’ll said.

    • Lion
      April 12, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

      Autocorrect. Well not we’ll.

  12. Redroamer
    April 11, 2014 at 10:48 pm #

    I just gave birth a week ago and by the time we could make it to the hospital I was in so much pain that I was scaring my 4 (almost 5) year-old daughter. I felt terrible about it and got her out of the hospital room as fast as I could. (This was the middle of the night and we had to call a family member to meet us at the hospital and take her home.) I cannot understand why on earth someone would intentionally expose their child to a situation that’s going to be so frightening and stressful.

    • Jessica S.
      April 11, 2014 at 10:52 pm #

      Congrats on your new baby! Hope you all are doing well!

  13. MJ
    April 11, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

    I had a seven year old and a four year old when I was pregnant with my last boy. There is no way on earth I would have had the seven year old present during labour, but I did actually consider it with the four year old to the extent that I asked the hospital midwife her view on the subject. He had attended all my prenatal visits and was very, very enthusiastic about witnessing the birth of his brother. My husband and talked about having a support person for him, and noted that I’m pretty silent and contained in labour etc etc. Ultimately, though, I decided against it because the mere fact of having to exclude him completely from my attention and care during that time was something I didn’t feel comfortable with as a parent. Not to mention the ‘what ifs’. He was pretty dirty about it for a while but, hey, he was four, he got over it.

  14. HolyWowBatman
    April 11, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

    I think the biggest thing is that no child should be selected by an adult’s will to have to show the emotional maturity and empathy of an adult. As a fairly sickly mom of three kids, I can say my kids as young as 3 have helped me practically speaking while vomiting or some such tthing, but the encounter is always about them, how they are feeling and then what they can do to just go have some fun. I practically can’t hide the illness always, bit they are still light hearted happy kids. I have adults in my life for emotional needs.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      April 11, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

      I think the biggest thing is that no child should be selected by an adult’s will to have to show the emotional maturity and empathy of an adult.

      Yes, I like this a lot.

      The stories we hear below about how children are _forced_ to do things out of circumstances (ranging from butchering cows to helping a parent through their cancer treatment) show that, for sure, kids can be absolutely resilient when faced with tough circumstances.

      However, that doesn’t mean we should subject them to difficult circumstances on purpose.

      In the civil war, really young kids were “enlisted” to fight for the cause, too. Shoot, I bet a lot of them volunteered. That doesn’t mean we should let young kids fight in the army now, though, even if they want to.

      • HolyWowBatman
        April 11, 2014 at 10:25 pm #

        Exactly. It’s a sensitive and caring balance between the child’s needs and reality. If I could have chosen, my kids wouldn’t have ever seen me sick. And I’ve had to swallow my pride to get over that and find clear and more nuanced ways for them to know that I love them and will always protect them.

      • SkepticalGuest
        April 15, 2014 at 10:16 pm #

        What’s the deal with hating on farmers? Butchering cows is part of some families’ livelihood, and skills passed from parent to child are important part of keeping farm families alive.

        There is a world of difference between having a child care for a parent undergoing chemo and having a pre-teen or teenage child learn complex farm skills from a knowledgable parent.

        Strangely, this isn’t the first time I’ve read comments here where people attack farm families. I remember one in particular ahile back that attacked certain types of parents who seemed to want their children destined to “pull weeds on an organic farm,” as if what farmers do can be summed up as “pulling weeds.”

        Farming, whether in large scale or small, is a complex field that requires planting and harvesting, understanding of soil fertility, a deep knowledge of plant biology, economics, marketing, animal husbandry, decent construction skills (think green houses, barns, chicken coops, roadside stands), managing employees and interns–and yes, also pulling weeds and butchering mammals.

        I’m appalled by this photo. Young children don’t belong at a birth. But teaching children a family trade is a very different thing entirely–and one we should be rejoicing in as it teaching kids responsibility (instead of entitlement) and it helps ensure our future food supply.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          April 17, 2014 at 1:01 pm #

          I don’t know what you are talking about. Who ever said anything about any of that, except one: butchering cattle.

          Who the hell butchers their own cattle nowadays? Having grown up in a farming community, I know about farming. I know what it takes to do it.

          It does not involve butchering your own cattle, nor enlisting children to help with it.

          So you can take your silly straw man and shove it.

          • SkepticalGuest
            April 17, 2014 at 1:18 pm #

            I don’t see what makes this a “silly straw man” argument. I’m not trying to shoot down anything except the idea that it’s wrong for kids to learn farm skills (including slaughtering and butchering) from their parents. I agree 100% that it’s appalling to make a child an emotional or physical support for a sick or laboring parent. I’m mostly agreeing with you.

            I was commenting on the fact that I sometimes see what sounds like an anti-farmer bias on this blog, and it baffles me.

            I know people who slaughter and butcher animals on small farms for their own consumption. Heck, I also know people who run slaughtering and butchery services to other small farmers from their farms. Granted, this is mostly of the sheep and pig variety, but still.

            If farmers choose to teach their preteens and teens how to slaughter or butcher animals, I hardly see that as abusive or in any way akin to helping a parent who is vomitting from chemo.

            I also wonder how hunters would feel reading a comment like this. Where I live, hunting classes enroll kids as young as 12. If they are going to be hunting deer with a parent, I’m going to make a guess that they’re going to learn how to dress and butcher that deer too.

            Again, not exactly cattle, but same idea. And to me, those kids are lucky to have parents teaching them real skills.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            April 17, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

            I’m not trying to shoot down anything except the idea that it’s wrong for kids to learn farm skills (including slaughtering and butchering) from their parents.

            I grew up in a small town in Iowa, surrounded by “family farms” so you don’t have to tell me about “farm skills.” Shit, I worked on a farm throughout my school years.

            And I will tell you that “butchering and slaughtering” has nothing to do with “farm skills.” In fact, your hunting example is a great analogy. Butchering and slaughtering is as much to modern farming as hunting is to modern “hunting and gathering.” Sure, there are people who are hobbyists who do it, but it has nothing to do with what people need to do.

            80 years ago, people DID butcher and slaughter their own cattle. Not for a hobby, but because they had to, just as people used to have to hunt to get food to eat. And in those circumstances, children were forced into service out of circumstances, because if they didn’t, people couldn’t survive.

            Nowadays, we have markets that will butcher for us, and so far and away, most farmers don’t butcher their own, just as most people don’t hunt for food. And those who do, do it by choice, and not because they have to in order to survive.

            Similarly, there are undoubtedly young kids who do help care for their parents because it is fun for them. That is not the same as a child who ends up forced into that service because their parent is sick.

            And to me, those kids are lucky to have parents teaching them real skills.

            Oh bullshit. “Real skills” my ass. It’s a skill, that’s for sure, and not one that everyone has. But why is it more “real” than any other skill? It is about relevant as the ability to weave cloth with a loom. That certainly takes skill, too, but it’s not like anything is missing without it.

            Similarly, I know hundreds of farmers (literally) who have never butchered an animal in their life, and are doing just fine as farmers. Clearly, the ability to butcher an animal is not critical to the job. Now, I also know those who are incompetent in animal husbandry and management. Or at least used to be, because they don’t survive as farmers.

          • SkepticalGuest
            April 17, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

            I’m not saying *every* farmer slaughters and/or butchers animals. Of course not. But I know farmers in my community who do. I’m talking about *small-scale* farmers here, not big farms like you probably have in Iowa. Sometimes these are for markets, and sometimes these are for personal consumption.

            And I know people who run mobile slaughter houses for small farmers who then do the butchery at their own home.

            So for some farmers, these *are* farm skills.

            I’m guessing our different experiences come from living amongst farmers of different scales. (5–15 acres versus maybe hundreds of acres of more)

            I guess my real question is this: is there really something wrong if farmers who *do* use these skills pass those skills along to their child?

            Also, when I said “real skills”, I meant as opposed to, say, serving as mama’s doula or catching mama’s puke. This is about meeting mom’s emotional needs, not learning to do something that is typically done for the functioning of one’s home and/or livelihood.

            I’m confused about your hunting comment. Some do it for hobby. Some do it because they can’t afford to feed their family meat (I had a cousin who hunted with his dad for this very reason). I have a friend (female) who grew up hunting in Alaska, and by her teenage years, she *was* expected to know how to dress a carcass, hang it, and help butcher it. Not hunter-gatherers (her step-dad was a fisherman by trade), but it was a way to get free meat in a remote area where flying stuff in was expensive.

            I also know people who hunt and donate it to places that feed poor and homeless people. (Saw this pretty regularly in Vermont.) It’s often one of the main sources of meat for these people. Personally, I admired the hunters who did this, and I say Kudos to any parent who teaches their kid how to help the community in that way too.

            And yes, our butchers here will butcher a deer for you, but you have to pay for it. I think it’s around $50 to $75. Depending on your financial situation, it might make more sense to just do it yourself if you have access to the right tools.

            I couldn’t care less whether or not kids learn to slaughter or butcher animals or hunt. I jumped into the fray on this one for reasons I’ll explain in another comment because this is getting overly long.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            April 17, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

            So for some farmers, these *are* farm skills.

            Again, if they are “farm skills” why do so many successful farmers (as in, almost all of them) not have that skill? It is clearly not a skill necessary for modern farming, as opposed to (as you note) land and soil management or animal husbandry.

            In contrast, 80 years ago, it WAS a necessary skill.

            I’m talking about *small-scale* farmers here, not big farms like you probably have in Iowa.

            Define small scale? Single family? That’s what the vast majority of farms are. Granted, there are very large operations, and, in terms of production, they provide the majority of farm properties, but something like 90% of the farms in Iowa are single family, small scale operation.

            And almost no one butchers their own livestock. Because we don’t have to.

          • SkepticalGuest
            April 17, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

            But Bofa, I’m not in Iowa. And I by no means am trying to suggest that *every* farmer needs these skills. But for some farmers on smaller-scale farms, it’s not a bad strategy.

            Most of the small-scale farmers I know are scraping by, in part because land costs are so high where I live. Anything they can do themselves helps. And being able to feed themselves from their own farm is part of that. So if they raise a hog for themselves, and do the slaughtering and butchering themselves, that’s free pork for the year.

            And really, I know a guy who has a good business running a mobile slaughterhouse and butchering service (the butchering happens on his property). That’s because it’s more economical for the really small-scale animal farmers than bringing to a large processor.

            Just because not every single farmer need to do their own slaugthering and butchering doesn’t mean that it doesn’t make sense for some. Farming varies based on the land, the size of the farms, and also the economics of the area where they are farming.

            I really think we are looking at this differently because we know different types of farmers, in different parts of the country, on different sizes of “small-scale” farms, in different economic environments.

            My mom had cancer when I was young. I am thankful that she was in the hospital for several days with every chemo treatment (early 80s before good drugs for the vomitting). It was hard enough to see her exhausted and bald at home after 3–4 days in the hospital per treatment.

            No kid should ever have to help a parent with cancer. Heck, no kid should ever HAVE a parent with cancer. It sucks. And it sucks even more when that parent dies, as my mother’s own mother did when she was barely older than that girl in the labor photo.

            So besides my “big tent” thing, which is the main reason I posted my original response, I still can’t see comparing teaching a kid how to butcher a mammal and having a kid catch mom’s vomit after a chemo treatment. I just can’t.

            The way I see it, some people butcher animals as part of their work. If they want to teach their kids, good for them. It is a real skill. People can get a decent-paying job doing it at a grocery store if they want, virtually anywhere in the country. Small-scale farmers can cut expenses by butchering for market–or just butchering their own meat for home consumption. Hunters can cut their expenses too if they know how to do it themselves.

          • SkepticalGuest
            April 17, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

            So Bofa, in case you’re wondering why the hell I took all the time to post this, here’s why:

            I live among many *small* farmers, who might actually take offense if they read people saying it’s bad to pass along butchery skills or that farmers were merely weed-pullers (yes, not your comment, just something else I’ve read here before).

            Given that the small-farm community seems to have at least some correlation with homebirthing (not an R of 1, to be sure, but greater than the rate in the general population), I wonder how we can best support those who are in the fence about *where* to give birth.

            And I think part of that is having a so-called “Big Tent” here. That is, welcoming in everyone who is interested in the issue of the safety of homebirth. Whether they are small-scale farmers who feed scraps to a pig that they then butcher for their own family. Whether they do extended breastfeeding or cosleeping or homeschooling. Whether they work full-time or part-time or are full-time SAHMs.

            I just want to make sure that everyone feels welcome.

          • SkepticalGuest
            April 17, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

            Oh, and to be clear Bofa, I was NOT saying it was you who doing the other trash-talking about farmers on this blog. In fact, I’m sure it wasn’t you.

            It was a long time ago, in a discussion about attachment parenting. And a couple of posters started making fun of parents who taught their kids farm skills, as if they wanted them to spend their lives “pulling weeds.” I put that in quotes, because I remember those two words, specifically, and the disdain that they carry for farmers as simply pullers of weeds.

            So when I saw your comment likening butchering cattle to helping a parent puking from chemo, it brought back memories of that thread, which I never did comment on.

            And it made me start to wonder…why is it that some of the regulars here don’t think that farmers should be passing on their skills to their children?

            Again, sorry if I made it seem like I thought *you* were the one doing all the trash-talking. Absolutely not. I was just mystified by this one comment you made, which seemed not unlike other comments I’ve read here before by others.

          • Siri
            April 18, 2014 at 3:06 am #

            No, don’t shove it – feed it to the cattle! All that nice straw; shame to let it go to waste.

  15. Dr Kitty
    April 11, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

    The other thing…little kids are very unpredictable about what they find disturbing. So just because your kid is cool with your sports related injury, that time the cat got run over and when the hamster had babies, it isn’t a given they’ll be OK watching you give birth.

    My kid LOVES Disney movies (she’s 4).
    Aladdin, no problem
    Frozen, no problem
    Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid…all fine.

    Tangled and Cinderella… Nightmares, “too scary”, “I don’t want to see those again”.

    And no, she can’t really articulate why those ones are scarier than the others, just that they are.

    So we don’t watch them (unfortunately, because Frozen has been on constantly since we got the DVD and I wouldn’t mind some variety).

    BTW no, we’re not ready for Bambi.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      April 11, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

      My 5 year old doesn’t like The Little Mermaid, because he doesn’t like the “seaweed witch.” She is pretty scary, tho

      • Hannah
        April 12, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

        I watched The Little Mermaid again recently and was shocked by how scary Ursula is. I remember hiding as a five year old when we got the video (heh, video) but I had forgotten just how sinister it was.

        • Amazed
          April 12, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

          A year or two before The Little Mermaid came along, there was a lovely French serial anime broadcast here. It was named The Prince and the Mermaid. Beats Disney version every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

          The sea witch there was grey and cursed with ugliness but she was somehow… sweet to look at. And she had that stupid shark serving her. The witch says, “OK, now we’re going to take the army and attack the sea king. The first half is here, the second one is there. OK?” and the shark is all. “OK, First half here, second one there… wait, what about the third half?”

        • Jen
          April 19, 2014 at 7:10 am #

          And she calls Ariel a “little tramp” LMAO.

    • Elizabeth A
      April 12, 2014 at 2:54 pm #

      Oh yes this. My 7 yo watches Bones with me from time to time (there’s usually just one corpse-related grossout at the beginning, and then it’s a clean skeleton surrounded by people talking about their feelings). He wishes I’d let him see more of Sleepy Hollow then the few minutes he got when I didn’t realize he had gotten out of bed and come downstairs.

      He had an epic meltdown during Mr. Peabody and Sherman, which ended in us leaving the theater while he moaned that the movie should have been PG-13.

      I will screen Bambi in the house when hell freezes.

    • Lori
      April 12, 2014 at 9:50 pm #

      WTF @ Tangled! My brother got it for my daughter as a gift, said it was similar to Frozen. Anyway, my kid will sort of half watch/half play during movies but she of course got locked into the thing just as the “evil mother” literally shanks the boyfriend. It was actually one of the darker scenes I’ve ever seen in a Disney animated feature.

    • FormerPhysicist
      April 16, 2014 at 12:10 pm #

      Does anyone else’s kid cue on soundtracks? If the soundtrack is scary/creepy/eerie, mine is freaked. Without the sound, it doesn’t tend to bother her.

  16. stenvenywrites
    April 11, 2014 at 2:21 pm #

    So … this picture is lovely and charming and only a buzzkill would find it disturbing, but the picture of little Mary Beth contains graphic violence and only a sick troll would find it not disturbingl. Got it.

  17. Felicitasz
    April 11, 2014 at 9:47 am #

    I need to think about this a bit more. Thanks for the piece, I have always thouhgt at this as a personal (family…) choice; whatever works for the family, be it. I do not think that a child can be forced to witness a home birth if s/he does not want to attend or just simply not interested. I also think that this is different from witnessing sex, let alone witnessing graphic violence.
    However, these are not yet clear-cut arguments. I do thank you for making me realize that I have never really sorted out my own opinion and reflected upon why do I think that I think.

  18. Anna C
    April 11, 2014 at 7:46 am #

    The photograph IS charming! The little girl is engaged and probably feels that she is important and is really helping. However, she should not be there. As Dr Tuteur says, it is never appropriate for a child to be supporting a parent. Sometimes it’s unavoidable (e.g. soemthing happens unexpectedly and there is nobody available to help except the child) but this is clearly a photo of a planned situation. The fact that the photo is sweet doesn’t make the situation OK.

  19. Melly
    April 11, 2014 at 5:35 am #

    Late to the party and a bit off-topic, but I had minor surgery on Monday (to revise a scar from my thoracotomy in 2009…thanks H1N1!). Seeing me in pain and unable to play has been very hard on my 3-year-old.
    I wouldn’t have wanted him to watch the surgery, even though it only took 15 minutes and I was completely awake, but frozen with lidocaine.

    • Anj Fabian
      April 11, 2014 at 8:47 am #

      So sorry you were one of the victims of the first pandemic. Glad you made it though!

      (I was ruthless this flu season reminding people that we’d seen what H1N1 could do already, and not to treat this season as “just the flu”.)

      • Young CC Prof
        April 11, 2014 at 10:29 am #

        H1N1 was the #1 reason I pretty much kept my newborn in a bubble for 10 weeks this past winter. Nasty stuff.

        • Bombshellrisa
          April 11, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

          It was the perfect excuse to refuse visitors who refuse to get the flu shot or nasal spray. I hung a sign on my door that said we would not be receiving visitors who aren’t current on vaccinations. It made some people mad, but I refused to budge, my late preterm son was more important than their feelings

          • Trixie
            April 11, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

            Who would get mad about that? People are morons.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            April 11, 2014 at 2:30 pm #

            Who would get mad about that?

            Morons who refuse to vaccinate.

        • Hannah
          April 11, 2014 at 7:51 pm #

          I’m kind of glad that we have about 10 friends and no family in our area because it is going to make controlling who sees our baby in July so much easier. So far almost most of the people I would expect to actually visit us at home has recently been vaccinated, which is awesome.

          Getting my father in law to get his shots before flying in has been kind of a bitch, though.

      • Melly
        April 11, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

        Ironically, I almost always get the flu shot, but that year it was in short supply and was only given to high risk groups at first. Being 29, fit, and healthy, I was considered low risk, despite being a public school teacher.

  20. CognitiveDissonaceHurts
    April 10, 2014 at 11:38 pm #

    I am another who chose to include my children at the births of their siblings at home. I believed it would be a wonderful bonding family experience. I believed that nothing would go wrong with me or the baby. I believed that we could prepare the children before the births so they would understand what was happening. I believed that having a dedicated support person for them would ensure that their needs were being met. I believed that knowing they were in the house would propel me to labour quietly. I believed that they would come to view birth as a beautiful natural event.

    Now that I look back I realize that things could have gone much differently and am very thankful that there were no emergencies to scar my kids.

    I just asked one of my adult (and now a mother herself) daughters about her memory of the last sibling’s birth: “I was disgusted”.

    I never knew.

    • CognitiveDissonaceHurts
      April 11, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

      I wanted to share more of my adult daughter’s insights yesterday into watching her siblings being born. (These comments apply to her mostly as a 10 year old, as she doesn’t really remember any emotions around the other births.)

      CogDiss: The latest post on Dr Amy is about how inappropriate it is for children to see childbirth… So, what are your thoughts on this. Were you traumatized by it? What do you remember about it?

      CogDissDaughter: I was disgusted

      CD: And what was disgusting about it?

      CDD: Everything

      CD: Did you think I was in pain?

      CDD: Yes

      CD: Oops, I was trying to hide that

      CDD: But I KNEW already all about it

      CD: If you had been given the choice, would you have stayed away? Did you feel forced into watching?

      CDD: Ummm, I remember telling you I did not want to be there. But I could have stayed downstairs. And let you down. Disappointed you. Been alone while the rest of the family was there. I didn’t want to be out of the loop. (This was hard to hear. I don’t remember her saying she didn’t want to watch.)

      CD: Well, let me say sorry for doing that to you. I clearly wasn’t thinking of your feelings and assumed everything would be fine

      CDD: Oh you do have a glorious idea in your mind of everyone sharing your feelings on something. I’m sure you thought I would be glad afterwards. And I am, but maybe not for the reasons you hoped lol. How do you remember our responses?

      CD: Pink fluffy unicorns dancing on rainbows! I remember lots of excitement and sometimes you and the others coming in and out of the room, some questions and answers. I trusted that you were being taken care of by your support person and that I was trying
      to keep quiet so you wouldn’t get scared. But labour is such work that I am sure I missed your reactions/feelings.

      CDD: We were downstairs until (birth4) was crowning, watching tv. And with (birth3) we were sleeping of course (middle of the
      night birth).

      CD: Just let me say, if I were to have another baby, I wouldn’t make you guys watch…


      I have asked the others for their thoughts, too, but haven’t heard back from them yet. However, once again, this blog has rocked my reality and made me question my actions as a NCBer. I thought it was a wonderful bonding experience for our family, but maybe… it would have been bonding regardless of whether they witnessed the actually delivery or not…ouch, my head hurts…

      • Stacy21629
        April 11, 2014 at 7:07 pm #

        Thank you for sharing that. It certainly is difficult as a parent to objectively evaluate and question the things we’ve done. 🙂

      • Hannah
        April 11, 2014 at 7:45 pm #

        Thanks for sharing that. I think the fact you’re even open to assessing it at all is admirable.

      • Jessica S.
        April 11, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

        This is so great, thanks for sharing! It’s not easy being vulnerable with people.

      • Amazed
        April 11, 2014 at 10:24 pm #

        Thanks for sharing your experience. I am curious about one thing and maybe you, as a former NCBer, will be able to give me an answer. Were you made to think that if your family missed this bonding experience, the relationship between your children would be deficient? Were you trying to cultivate a bond?

        And if so, did it work? Were your children more attentive to the newborn, did they fully realize what it was and so on? I recently mentioned it to my mom that I only remember the day they brought my new brother home and then only a few times pushing him around in my doll stroll making him share it with my teddy cat. My mom said that I didn’t remember because there was nothing to remember – I obviously started noticing him when he started giving reactions and being interesting. I wasn’t even jealous – she describes it as if I didn’t realize he was not a piece of our furniture. Absolute lack of bonding, in those early months.

        Were you taught that the initial lack of bonding would doom your children getting close to each other, like ever?

        • Young CC Prof
          April 11, 2014 at 10:37 pm #

          I kind of had the same experience. I remember when my brother was born because lots of strange things happened, like being sent to a friend’s house in the middle of the night, and then being fetched and finding my mother in a strange bed with a really nifty headboard. But that memory doesn’t include him at all, probably because he just wasn’t very interesting. My first real memory of him, he was sitting up and playing with me, probably six months old or so.

        • April 12, 2014 at 2:51 am #

          I know my sister and I were super excited to get a new baby sister, and we tried to hold and love her as soon as she came home from the hospital (a very uncomplicated birth). We stayed home with our grandparents and they made us mac & cheese for dinner when my mom went to the hospital, as I recall.

          I know my mom was very firm that she didn’t want us there- two girls under 10 didn’t need to see her in agony or the blood or the general ickiness. She wanted to be a grandmother some day, after all 😛

          • Siri
            April 12, 2014 at 3:25 am #

            I remember when my little brother was born; I was just four, and children were not allowed to visit the post-natal ward. I have a vivid memory of standing outside the huge hospital, looking up at a window where a nurse was holding up a bundle to show us (I was with my dad and paternal grandmother). Some things have definitely changed for the better! I was very attached to my mother, and the separation took a heavy toll on my little emotions.

          • Siri
            April 12, 2014 at 3:34 am #

            Then, when my kids were 4, 6 and 7 I had a homebirth, and boy was I relieved when they went off to school in the morning! My next worry was that I’d still be in labour when they came home (I panic in labour and become very vocal); however, Molly graciously arrived with 20 mins to spare. She definitely seemed to know she was at home; her behaviour was very different from that of my hospital-born kids. I felt she made me take her all over the house, showing her everything, before she would settle and feed.

            My littlest boy had a half day at school, and was downstairs with dad playing Doom while his sister was arriving. Didn’t see or hear a thing until all was sanitised and delightful.

          • April 12, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

            A separation of two days was a heavy toll? Damn, you must have been very attached indeed. My parents prepared us for it- we were a little older than 4, for sure, but your parents should’ve been like “when the baby is coming, Mommy is going to the hospital for a day or two and when she comes home there’ll be a new baby brother/sister!” You can prepare even very anxious kids for things like that.

            As for the homebirth- I’m glad it worked out for you. I’m still appalled you would take such risks with your life, your baby’s life, and the trauma of your other three children, but I am very glad you got so lucky.

          • Amazed
            April 12, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

            I was four when the Intruder arrived. And I’d been with my grandparents for a few days already. I loved staying with them in their village and anyway, it was a harsh winter and my parents decided that I’ll be better off being coddled (and schooled by my grandma. Once a teacher, always a teacher) for a few more days than adding the bother to make arrangements at the last minute when labour started.

            I remember my grandmother telling me that I’ve got a baby brother and me answering very dejectedly, “Oh no! I wanted a kitten!” That’s my only clear memory – the others all kind of melt into the overall memories of my stayings there.

          • April 12, 2014 at 3:33 pm #

            That’s an awesome story (oh no, I wanted a kitten indeed!).

            It was definitely a little different for us, because we’d been agitating for a baby sister (we definitely DID NOT want a brother) for a few years and just about given up when my mom told us she was pregnant. A few years later, that baby sister was held up as an example that birth control in the drawer doesn’t actually work.

          • Amazed
            April 12, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

            It gets even more awesome. My Gran says that later, I asked her whether she was sure we didn’t have a kitten but a baby brother… Now I think he beats a litter of kittens by far but it looks I was pretty much decided on this kitten, damn it.

            Later, I wanted another brother or sister, it didn’t really matter which one. My mom didn’t mind but my dad stomped his foot down. He’s been through two hard births already and he could almost see himself as a single father of three, so down the drain the idea went.

          • Siri
            April 12, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

            Your first paragraph reads like the start of a novel! Are you a writer?

          • Amazed
            April 12, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

            I wish! I only translate novels for living.

          • Siri
            April 12, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

            I was VERY attached to my mum! And she was probably gone for about five days. I think what upset me the most was not seeing her; it made me afraid that she’d disappeared into the maw of the hospital, and the sight of a nurse with a bundle did nothing to reassure me.

            And bear in mind that homebirth in the UK is fully integrated into the maternity system, making it as safe as ooh birth can ever be. Instead of one junior midwife I had two very senior ones, who’d have transferred me at the first sign of problems., as well as two of my fellow student midwives. Labour ward was aware a homebirth was in progress, emergency services would be called ‘nil delay’, and I felt incredibly safe throughout.

            Having said that, I lost courage with my fifth and asked to transfer to hospital. I wonder in retrospect if I should have been risked out – 40, 5th baby, 41+11. I was very healthy, and everything went well, but perhaps I wasn’t as low risk as I thought?

        • CognitiveDissonaceHurts
          April 12, 2014 at 8:22 am #

          As an attachment parent, I was worried that the “trauma” of being replaced by a baby would be made worse by separation from us during the labour and delivery period. I honestly thought that not being excluded from the event would help the children. It wasn’t about me – it was about helping them, if that makes any sense.

          Also, I had such trust in the normalcy of birth that I didn’t worry that they would be upset by what they would see. I liked the idea of them knowing the truth about how babies were born. We read them a book written for children who were going to attend a birth that had lots of illustrations and simple explanations, so they wouldn’t be alarmed by the “food blood” for example (the baby “eats” the food blood through the food hose).

          And I also believed that having my family there at home would help me be more relaxed…and I would labour quietly…which I did.

          Because we did this with all our births, I have nothing else to compare it to, as far as “did it work?” Our family was close, and they continue to have close adult relationships. But in retrospect, that closeness could have been fostered even if they hadn’t been present for the actual deliveries. It’s about the years spent living life together, not the minutes spent watching a birth.

          Hindsight is a wonderful thing. If I’d had a labour like my first, which was a 6 hour back labour of torture, I wouldn’t have wanted the kids to see that. But I believed that having a homebirth would make the labour less painful, so I wasn’t worried about that (but I should have been).

  21. Guest-Andrea-K
    April 10, 2014 at 10:48 pm #

    Excellent article. I weighed in over there and will almost surely be hammered. I thought a commenter mis-represented Dr Amy’s coverage of the photo. Naturally I felt the urge to clarify. I know, hopeless.

  22. jenny
    April 10, 2014 at 10:10 pm #

    I don’t think it’s necessarily terrible to bring a child to a birth, as long as there is a dedicated support person there just to look after the child’s needs. It doesn’t sound fun to me, but to each their own.

    That said, I had a precip birth at home. I sent my 3yo daughter outside with the sitter while waiting for EMS to arrive because I didn’t want her to see me in pain. She missed her younger sister’s birth by about 15 minutes, and I am very glad she did. After a perfect healthy pregnancy, my younger daughter experienced a birth complication, was born completely flat, and died four days later. I also hemorrhaged. It was bad enough for my daughter to lose the sister she’d been anticipating for nearly a year, and bad enough that her parents were struck with grief. Had she been there for the actual moment when everything went to shit…. I can’t imagine how traumatized she would have been and I’m glad she was spared at least that.

    • Jessica S.
      April 10, 2014 at 10:57 pm #

      Oh my gosh, what a terrible loss. 🙁 I hope you are all healing well. Very sound advice you offered.

    • Jocelyn
      April 10, 2014 at 10:57 pm #

      I’m so, so sorry.

    • Mishimoo
      April 10, 2014 at 11:18 pm #

      I’m so very sorry for your loss 🙁

    • wookie130
      April 11, 2014 at 8:29 am #

      Every time I hear of what happened with your younger daughter, I am filled with such sadness for you and your family. Bless you for being the type of mother who recognized what is ultimately best for your daughter during that terrifying and devastating situation…No, these kids don’t need to go through that. I am also so very sorry for your loss.

    • attitude devant
      April 11, 2014 at 9:17 am #

      How terrible. I am so so sorry.

    • ModerneTheophanu
      April 11, 2014 at 3:04 pm #

      I’m so sorry.

    • Comrade X
      April 11, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

      I’m very sorry for your loss.

  23. araikwao
    April 10, 2014 at 8:55 pm #

    Can’t screencap from my phone, but there’s a stellar little exchange there:
    “Dr Amy stole this photo and is calling it disturbing. That woman is such a psycho!”
    “Psycho is somebody who risks her baby’s life for a bunch of photos to brag about. Just saying.”
    “Lizeth [author of above comment], sounds like you need to do some research.”

    Research. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    • Sue
      April 10, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

      Research? Like about the effects of inappropriate parenting practices on young children?

  24. April 10, 2014 at 7:18 pm #

    Not that it matters, but I checked the photographer’s FB page and it appears that the girl in the image is actually 7 (but she does look really young in this picture). Still too young to be witnessing birth, but just thought I’d point it out.

    • Sue
      April 10, 2014 at 10:02 pm #

      Aged seven but looks four? Perhaps she’s shrunk under the fierce narcissism.

      • Mishimoo
        April 10, 2014 at 11:17 pm #

        I blame the kale…

        • expat
          April 11, 2014 at 10:23 am #

          In excess, it actually can cause problems with iodine levels and iodine is crucial for brqin development. Balance it out with seaweed.

      • Box of Salt
        April 11, 2014 at 6:42 am #

        “Aged seven but looks four?”

        Head size to torso length (given the limitations of the photo) lead me to lean towards estimating age 7, given a choice, based on art class and my own observations.

        I will defer to those with more detailed knowledge of developmental anatomy.

    • April 11, 2014 at 1:33 am #

      Personally, I think a 7year old is more likely to be traumatized by observing a birth than a 4 year old; a 7 year old is much more aware of what is actually happening. I’m not sure a 4 year old would really assimilate more than it was an odd and frightening experience, like a nightmare.

  25. Jessica S.
    April 10, 2014 at 6:59 pm #

    On the lighter side, but still on topic, I just happened to watch The Big Bang Theory episode, The Cooper Extraction, where Sheldon goes home for the birth of his sister’s baby (more of the “B” story line). His take on home birth: “She chose to have a home birth. Because she wants to live in the stone age, and a cave wasn’t available.”

    • Alannah
      April 10, 2014 at 10:56 pm #

      That`s not the first witty anti-NCB/lactivist remark from Sheldon. I wonder if the writers do it on purpose to piss off Mayim Bialik?

      • Jessica S.
        April 10, 2014 at 11:14 pm #

        I know, right?? I’ve wondered that, too. In fact, now that you mention it, we watched another one last night (thank you, AppleTV and iTunes for enabling binge-watching!) where they’re in a drug store, talking with Bob Newhart (as Prof. Proton) and Leonard tries to pull Sheldon away by saying something like “Let’s go make fun of people buying homeopathic remedies. You love doing that!”. Mayim’s in the scene, too.

        • MaineJen
          April 11, 2014 at 11:38 am #

          Does it cost money to watch these on itunes?

          • Hannah
            April 11, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

            I don’t think Big Bang Theory is free for streaming anywhere, even Amazon Prime. CBS is really odd with which shows it enables for Netflix etc and BBT doesn’t seem to be one they will license.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            April 11, 2014 at 1:11 pm #

            That’s because it’s shown like all the time in reruns on TBS (and others, but TBS is basically all BBT from 8 – 11 every night)

            Why would they offer it for free when they have tv stations paying them to show it?

          • Hannah
            April 11, 2014 at 1:13 pm #

            I don’t have an issue with it, they can profit how they want, it just seems inconsistent when How I Met Your Mother is also in syndication on TBS etc and was while airing, and is still on Netflix/Amazon etc. CBS is the only one that seems to do this, too.

            I have TBS, I just get annoyed that they don’t air them in any particular order. Coming from Australia, where we have to pay for any and all content we want to see online, Netflix et al is a wonderland as it is, haha.

          • Jessica S.
            April 11, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

            I’ll bet it is! I get so frustrated when I can’t get something right away, the concept baffles me – I’m like a spoiled toddler. Then I have to step back and remind myself it’s just TV. But I want it now!!! 😉

          • MaineJen
            April 11, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

            Oh Big Bang Theory…y u no netflix?…

          • Jessica S.
            April 11, 2014 at 10:30 pm #

            Yeah, and it’s not cheap! Depending on how recent the season is, it can run $40 – $50 per season. We canceled cable TV and now we piece things together mainly through Netflix and iTunes. My husband figures we probably do save money in the long run, but not as much as you’d think, if one is intending on staying up to date with current shows, which means buying from iTunes. The Big Bang Theory isn’t available on Netflix, at least not streaming. Thinking back, it must have been available through them at some point b/c that’s how we started watching it, was on Netflix DVDs.

      • Hannah
        April 11, 2014 at 4:47 am #

        I actually thought they didn’t go as far as Sheldon really would have, because of her history. ‘Cause they could have taken it really, really far given his character.

    • Hannah
      April 11, 2014 at 11:23 am #

      I loll’d so hard at that line. It was brilliant. I do wonder what Mayim thinks of it.

      • MaineJen
        April 11, 2014 at 11:24 am #

        More wisdom from Sheldon…I too was wondering what Miss Amy Farrah Fowler would have to say about that 🙂

        • Hannah
          April 11, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

          Amy would totally agree. Mayim, on the other hand. Sigh.

          • Young CC Prof
            April 11, 2014 at 1:20 pm #

            You know, as a skeptic, I can see acting as someone who believes in, well, implausible stuff. I loved make-believe as a child and still do. But how exactly does one pretend to be a skeptic?

          • MaineJen
            April 11, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

            LOL, remember “the x files?” (I know…old old old) IIRC, the female character was the skeptic on the show, but the actress was a believer in the supernatural IRL…conversely, the male character was the ‘believer’ on the show but the actor was a total skeptic IRL. I forget where I read that, but I always thought it was interesting.

          • Dr Kitty
            April 11, 2014 at 5:56 pm #

            Old is when your little sister’s high school friend is playing a serial killer and Scully is the sexy older lady detective trying to catch him.

          • MaineJen
            April 14, 2014 at 9:23 am #

            NO WAY. My lord, I’m completely obsessed with that show. That’s quite a claim to fame in my book. 🙂 (Can’t wait for the next season…no spoilers if you in the UK have already seen it!!)

          • Hannah
            April 11, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

            It’s funny how often actors play a character with a world view completely at odds with their own – not a skeptic example but Martin Sheen playing President Bartlett on The West Wing was pretty interesting considering how much of his personal politics are at odds with Bartlett’s.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            April 11, 2014 at 3:39 pm #

            I don’t know. Amy might insist that her expertise in neurobiology makes her insight superior to Sheldon’s, and come up with same lame neuro justification (kind of like Mayim does). She (Amy) already claimed that Babinski eats Dirac for breakfast and defecates Clerk Maxwell.

          • Hannah
            April 11, 2014 at 7:02 pm #

            It’s possible. Maybe I haven’t watched enough of it, or be well-read enough to catch all the references in the show, but my impression isn’t that Amy would be tolerant of pseudoscience and woo, unlike Mayim.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            April 11, 2014 at 8:19 pm #

            They tend to avoid having Amy address such things. She is fixated on being more like a stereotypical girl, and craves physical intimacy. She doesn’t participate in the “geeky” science stuff like the others do.

  26. Stacy21629
    April 10, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

    For those that think the involvement of a small child is appropriate…if things go the way precious Aquila’s birth did – with multiple children in the house…how do you think that impacts them?
    Children with a dedicated caregiver in a hospital setting can be quickly whisked away in the event of a drastic emergency – just like the husband would be. But most home births tend to have NO extra personnel involved and getting the children away and out of that situation quickly is unlikely.

    • Zornorph
      April 10, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

      Hey, when things go wrong at the homebirth, that’s when you press the birth photographer into double duty. Because who wants pictures of mom bleeding out for the family album?

      • anion
        April 10, 2014 at 9:27 pm #

        Eh, they can Photoshop that stuff right out, and add some lovely “Glowing faces!” effects, too.

    • Renee Martin
      April 11, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

      I can tell you exactly how HB loss impacted them, but you cannot separate out being present at the event, from the aftermath and death of a wanted child. Seeing such a traumatic event really could devastate kids, it just didn’t devastate *these* kids.

      At first, they were all very sad, and upset, by this event. Who wouldn’t be? Moms worry over the kids feelings only added to her already heavy burden. She was distraught, and angry, and had to deal with loss of a child, and loss of community, friends, and deeply held beliefs.

      A few years later, the sweet, sensitive little daughter pictured, asks if my baby will die like Aquila did (I was about 25 W). I am sure she would feel this way regardless, and I don’t think it would have mattered if she hadn’t been there. She is not traumatized, just thoughtful. She’s a little mommy, and dedicated big sister.

      And thankfully, none of the kids were traumatized long term. The longer the event is in the past, the more it becomes abstract to them. Kids are able to move past even serious, life changing, things when they have a solid family, lots of love and attention, and a full life. They have all this, and more.

      They know they have a sister in heaven, they talk about her, but they are not permanently damaged. They know it was due to HB, due to the negligence of Faith Beltz, and have helped protest, in order to change laws to protect moms and babies (with some success).

      It hurt them, but they came back stronger, closer, and more determined. I would be really worried if this happened to a family that was not as strong, and close.

      • Dr Kitty
        April 11, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

        The Paparella family are exceptional, in all the good ways.
        I have nothing but admiration for Liz and her family.

  27. Stacy21629
    April 10, 2014 at 5:21 pm #

    My last labor progressed from “this isn’t so bad” to LOUD contractions and vomiting into a trash can in less than an hour. I couldn’t WAIT for my grandmother-in-law to show up and get my 4 year old son. While I had shown him sanitized pictures before the birth and talked to him about how birth hurt, I did NOT want him around for the whole process. He simply does not need to see all of that. He was perfectly content to play with gramma all afternoon and come bouncing into the room yelling “Our baby! Our baby!” when we were clean and dressed and presentable.

  28. fiftyfifty1
    April 10, 2014 at 4:17 pm #

    Meh. Having my kids present while I was in labor wouldn’t be something I would choose, but to each their own.

    In my own case, I watched my younger sibs be born. There were a couple of scary moments, but overall I was glad to be there and in retrospect still am glad. I know some other adults who saw their sibs be born and they seem like they have turned out fine too.

    So I guess I’ll be saving my outrage for actual abuse.

    • Renee Martin
      April 11, 2014 at 3:15 pm #

      I have plenty of outrage to go around 🙂

  29. R T
    April 10, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

    Uh, I don’t have a problem with this picture. I attended both of my brother’s births and countless other homebirths as a child. I also grew up on a farm and delivered many animals as a young child. I was never scared or felt like an unwilling participant in performance art. It was natural and something I found fascinating! I did not find my mother’s groaning or moaning upsetting because all animals make noises when they birth. The only thing I was ever upset about during the process was the boys who kept coming out at the end, lol! The only time I ever was scared during a birth was when I was 11 and my parents ran to town and our goat went into labor with triplets! One of them got stuck and wasn’t breathing and I knew it was up to me to save it! I pulled the kid out and swung it around me head as I had seen my father and the vet do. Then I rubbed him really hard and he breathed! It was a scary, but awesome experience!

    • T.
      April 10, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

      I think the key here is that you were a farm child, so you were used to it. Most city kids have no experience with blood, pain, and birth. I am not saying it can’t ever work, but in most case I do think it is a bad idea.

      • MLE
        April 10, 2014 at 10:43 pm #

        Yeah that is basically like showing my kid The Ring after his daily diet of Peppa Pig.

    • Laura
      April 10, 2014 at 5:11 pm #

      I’m glad your experiences were so positive, RT. I don’t think parents always know which children have the temperament to handle, and even benefit, from all that exposure to birth, human or animal. You did, and I am glad for you. Unfortunately, there are some children who aren’t able to emotionally or cognitively handle such experiences without being traumatized by them. I’m not sure which factors play into this, even within the same family as all children can be so different even from the same gene pool. Perhaps parents need to be mindful of those children who can handls these experiences, and those who can’t. Caution is probably better overall, wouldn’t you think? Btw, did you ever get a sister?!

  30. The open-minded mother
    April 10, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

    You are just…a judgemental buzz kill. A laboring woman should be the star, and everyone knows you g children beg for anything they can do to be helpful. 80 years ago children were helping their parents slaughter animals to feed themselves, and had no choice, because thats how things are. The birth of a child is a wonderful event, that littledoula is going to be proud for the rest of her life that she got to help her mommy bring her new sibling into this world, and you want to take that, and smear their happiness…you are the narcissistic crazy woman who has to stalk the things you dont agree with, and plaster it with your own maniacal ideas about how we should all jist have c sections and no natural birth should ever be attempted…I think you need therapy for your own issues with birth and leave the rest of us out of it!

    You cant even pretend with the wildest stretch that this article is helpful to anyone anywhere! This is LITERALLY just talking shit! You ought to be ashamed!

    • attitude devant
      April 10, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

      Are you a Poe?

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        April 10, 2014 at 4:39 pm #

        I especially liked the “LITERALLY talking shit” line. Maybe that’s where I found my score of 4.

        • PrimaryCareDoc
          April 10, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

          I always love good use of the word “literal.”

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            April 10, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

            Misuse of the word literal drives me figuratively insane. Confusion between “its” and “it’s” OTOH, that brings it closer to literally insane…

          • araikwao
            April 10, 2014 at 8:41 pm #

            ^^this x 1 000 000

          • Jessica S.
            April 10, 2014 at 9:12 pm #

            I agree. The temptation for me is how “literal” and “literally” are words that just roll of the tongue so well, with staccato pronunciation, that I fall into its trap when I’m in the heat of the moment. 😀 I don’t know if that makes sense, I’m crazy that way. I hate the use of hyperbole yet I’m one of the most hyperbolically prone people you’ll meet. 🙂

          • Squillo
            April 11, 2014 at 10:27 am #

            A little hyperbole in the right place is fine. But “literally” is often superfluous. It rarely makes a sentence stronger or an image more evocative.

            Omit needless words, right?

          • realitycheque
            April 11, 2014 at 12:49 am #

            Apparently it’s so commonly used incorrectly that a number of dictionaries (at least online ones) are adding a second “figurative” meaning. I can’t even describe the rage I felt when I first saw it:

          • araikwao
            April 11, 2014 at 2:38 am #

            Ugh. That makes me as sad as when “alright” became a legitimate spelling.

          • Beth
            April 11, 2014 at 8:41 am #

            it did?? ugh. Now I want to cry.

          • Squillo
            April 11, 2014 at 10:29 am #

            “Alright” is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me; it stops me cold when I’m reading a professionally edited piece that uses it.

            But I’m a big girl, and I can take it when language evolves. Kind of like scientific evidence.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            April 11, 2014 at 11:29 am #

            But I’m a big girl, and I can take it when language evolves.

            It says in the bible that all the languages were created exactly in their current form at the Tower of Babel, and “language evolution” is just the work of Satan.

          • Dr Kitty
            April 11, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

            Did anyone tell Chaucer?

            “Lo, how that thou biwreyest modre alway!
            Modre wol out, that se we day by day.
            Modre is so wlatsom and abhomnymable
            To God, that us so just and resonable,
            That he ne wol suffre it heled be,
            Though it abide a yeer, or two, or thre.
            Modre wol out. This is my conclusioun.”

            We’re all doing Satan’s work by not speaking Middle English….

            Actually… Would you like some Beowulf?
            “Nealles naes geweoldum wyrmhordan craeft
            sylfes willum”

            Yup..nothing has changes since the Tower of Babel… Language doesn’t evolve…

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            April 11, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

            Which is the tale that talks of kissing the nether yehe? That is great language

            (all I remember from Chaucer is from The Big Bang Theory (we had to read the Miller’s Tale in college, but you think I remember any of it?)

          • Stacy21629
            April 11, 2014 at 6:52 pm #

            “It says in the bible that all the languages were created exactly in their current form at the Tower of Babel, and “language evolution” is just the work of Satan.”
            Uh, no it doesn’t. Have you actually read Genesis 11? It says that God confounded their language and spread the people abroad upon the whole earth. Nothing about “in their current form” or language evolution being the work of Satan. Perhaps someone might say that their interpretation of that means language evolution is just the work of Satan…but you should check the actual text before making a claim like that.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            April 11, 2014 at 8:25 pm #

            Wow, I actually successfully pulled off a Poe!

            Congratulate me! That’s gotta be my first.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            April 11, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

            “Alright” is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me

            Awesome juxtapose there, Squillo.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            April 11, 2014 at 9:08 am #

            I can’t even describe the rage I felt when I first saw it:

            I LITERALLY went through the roof when I first saw it. Then I came down.

            Not really, though.

          • NoLongerCrunching
            April 11, 2014 at 3:37 pm #

            Really? I *love* this. It makes English even more awesome than it already is. Also, you may want to sit down witn a stiff drink before you read this:

          • anion
            April 11, 2014 at 8:06 am #

            One of the worst things about it, IMO, is that now when you use it legitimately you’re mocked.

          • drsquid
            April 11, 2014 at 8:00 pm #

            for me it is loose vs lose that makes me stabby

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      April 10, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

      I don’t know, the effort isn’t even all that good. I’m giving it a 4/10 on the PoeMeter, and that is being generous.

      • attitude devant
        April 10, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

        Do you think that Dr. Amy is heartbroken at being called a buzzkill?

        • Young CC Prof
          April 10, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

          Definitely. Worst thing anyone’s ever called her.

          • Bombshellrisa
            April 10, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

            Yeah, she is probably upset she didn’t make herself the star while she labored

          • KarenJJ
            April 10, 2014 at 8:21 pm #

            Kudos to the Open Minded Mother on her choice of insult. It was accurate (if you get your buzz by being the star in your own birth performance, Dr Amy is indeed a buzz-kill), not misogynistic and nothing to do with her age.

          • birthbuddy
            April 11, 2014 at 5:45 am #

            Satanic buzzkill.

        • Guest
          April 10, 2014 at 4:58 pm #

          Buzzkill! Love it!

          • Beth
            April 11, 2014 at 8:42 am #

            yep. because that’s what’s important here. Mom’ buzz.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      April 10, 2014 at 4:25 pm #

      I’m sure the young girl is proud of what she is doing and happy to help. The question is, should she have been put in a position where she felt like she had to help her mother. A position where she may be exposed to her mother being hurt or dying and her new sibling being born dead or ill. A situation where everything can go from great to deadly in a matter of seconds. Children love helping. They also tend to blame themselves for everything that goes wrong. Do you want your child in the pool, pushing on your back, when you bleed out and leave her to wonder for the rest of her life if she killed you? Is your buzz worth that?

    • Guest
      April 10, 2014 at 4:56 pm #

      I cannot comment on the people in the photograph as I don’t know them. They may have thought at length about their decision, or very little, I have no idea. However, Dr Amy’s article helps some people to consider the real risks of what may happen and what your child could see. Dr Amy’s articles do help lots of people to consider both sides before they make up their own mind, which is very useful for some people. If you ignore that birth can be unsafe and can end badly, it seems lovely to have all the family involved, but it can be unsafe and could expose your child to something that could affect them badly, that’s the truth, and something to consider.

    • Hannah
      April 10, 2014 at 5:04 pm #

      Laboring women should be the ‘stars’? I didn’t realise this was a performance.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        April 10, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

        Kids were slaughtering animals 80 years ago. They were also working in factories and leaving school at age 10. Or watching their mothers and siblings die during childbirth as a result of undeveloped care methods.

        Yeah, I didn’t get that part of it either. She even admits they did it because they HAD to. So what does that have to do with today, where they don’t have to? We should force them to watch childbirth, because their ancestors helped butcher cattle?

        Although the claim that they attended births 80 years ago is a false premise. I relayed the story below about the birth of my dad 82 years ago (and 2 weeks), as told by my aunt 2 months ago. She was 14 at the time, and remembers it well. They sent the kids upstairs with their Easter candy for the night.

        • Hannah
          April 10, 2014 at 6:15 pm #

          Oh, I’m aware, I just figured that I may as well address situations where kids were involved. I know that it happened a few times in my family, particularly in rural Australia, but it wasn’t seen as ideal. It was an unfortunate consequence of having no other choices and needing whatever helping hands were available. I know my great-grandmother did her best to avoid the same for her girls (my grandmother being one of them), especially during the birth where she lost her only son.

    • Stacy21629
      April 10, 2014 at 5:22 pm #

      A laboring woman should be the star?
      Gag me.
      I wanted exactly ZERO pictures of me in labor and about 70-gazillion of the baby once she got here. Because it’s not about me. At. All.

    • Stacy21629
      April 10, 2014 at 5:35 pm #

      “littledoula is going to be proud for the rest of her life that she got to help her mommy bring her new sibling into this world,”
      And if her brother/sister dies, that will be one of her earliest memories.

      • Mishimoo
        April 10, 2014 at 11:38 pm #

        It’s one of mine – my mother in a blue and white dress, crying and praying on the kitchen floor because she’d had her second miscarriage + D&C.

        • anion
          April 11, 2014 at 8:04 am #

          God, I am so sorry.

          • Mishimoo
            April 12, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

            At least I know exactly what not to do.

    • Jessica S.
      April 10, 2014 at 6:45 pm #

      Your choice for screen name is laughably incongruent with your screed.

    • anne
      April 10, 2014 at 7:20 pm #

      Or little doula is going to be angry at new sibling for causing mommy horrific amounts of pain and taking away attention from little doula thus harming sibling relationship.

      • Amazed
        April 10, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

        I could have been the little doula and watch my mother bleed to death. Afterwards, I would have been stuck with the little budger who killed her. No, thanks but no.

        Yay for hospitals, as poorly as the conditions at this one were at that time.

        • Guest
          April 11, 2014 at 6:03 pm #

          Whoa! Babies kill their mothers? That’s like saying babies know how to be born isn’t it?

          • Amazed
            April 11, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

            Absolutely. Then again, children aren’t the most logical people around here, are they? If they were, they would have known they wouldn’t be replaced by the new arrival.

    • Captain Obvious
      April 10, 2014 at 7:48 pm #

      Do you remember when Jamie Lynne Grumet posed with her (nonconsenting) son on the cover of Time magazine? There was a media circus with parodies, even with one on SNL. Poor kid. I wonder how he fared in school. But he was just a prop in Jamie’s 15 minutes.

      • Rea
        April 10, 2014 at 8:25 pm #

        School? Please. Like she sends her kids to school. Pshaw.

    • Bombshellrisa
      April 10, 2014 at 9:01 pm #

      “Littledoula”-just what every little girl wants, to be a servant.
      I grew up with a mother who treated me like this, it was all about her and how I had to rub her feet every night. It gets old quickly.

      • Mishimoo
        April 10, 2014 at 11:33 pm #

        Neck, back and scalp because ‘migraines’, also pimples. Ick!

    • anion
      April 10, 2014 at 9:26 pm #

      How do you know how “littledoula” is going to feel? I know of a girl who was so traumatized at being forced to witness the birth of a younger sibling that she vowed never to have children–a vow she has kept. How do you know “littledoula” isn’t going to feel that way? How do you know she won’t grow up and think, “I can’t believe my mother made me not only watch that, but get in the tub and apply counterpressure?” Or even, “Yeah, I was there. So what?”

      Adults do not tend to be “proud that [they] got to help [their] mommy.” I was proud as a child when I helped my mom carry groceries, but my chest doesn’t puff with accomplishment thinking back on it now.

      And sure, young children beg for anything they can do to be helpful. Young children beg to climb on the roof and help lay new tiles. Responsible adults do not allow this.

      No one here, especially not Dr. Amy–who has given birth four times, twice unmedicated–thinks we should all just have c-sections and no natural birth should ever be attempted. I don’t even know where you got that idea.

      As for “a laboring woman should be the star…” Talk about narcissism. How about, grown-ups do not insist they should “be the star” of anything, because they do not feel the incessant need to be worshiped and adored? How about “labor is about bringing a baby safely into the world and not about ‘stars?'” Or “labor is about bringing a baby safely into the world and not about the mother’s twisted need to use said baby as a vehicle to attract attention and love?” Or all of the above?

      It seems to me that someone might very well need therapy, but it’s not the person who believes being the center of attention and treating other humans like props in your Fabulous Me stage show is more important than the health and safety of babies and young children.

      • anion
        April 10, 2014 at 9:55 pm #

        Ugh, I can’t edit/fix this. That last line should be “is LESS important than the health & safety…”

        I changed the order of phrases before posting, but forgot to follow through.

    • Sue
      April 10, 2014 at 10:04 pm #

      Is ”open-minded”’s post for real? I was expecting an irony warning at the bottom, but it’s not there.

      • attitude devant
        April 11, 2014 at 12:08 am #

        No, as far as we can tell, she’s real. I have to say I owe Dr.Amy an apology. All this time when she snarked about mothers starring in their own performance art with the baby as a prop, I thought she was exaggerating for effect. But it turns out that, as this mother says, a laboring woman is the star.

    • Siri
      April 11, 2014 at 3:41 am #

      Your ignorance is showing, as is your privilege. Google ‘I scrubs’ and take a look at the photo of little Katie with the big raw hands, then tell me how wonderful children’s lives were ‘in the good old days’.

      • Mishimoo
        April 13, 2014 at 6:28 am #

        More recently than that; my mormor grew up on a dairy farm with loads of chores as she was one of the older children from a family of 9. At times, it was so cold that even though they shared a room, they had ice on the inside of the windows due to lack of heating. Loads of fun, the good old days!

        • Siri
          April 13, 2014 at 6:44 am #

          You have a mormor, Mishimoo! That’s so nice; my kids have one too, and I had one whom I loved very much indeed. She only just got to meet her first great grandchild (my son) and died when I was 21. I hope to be a mormor myself one of these days…..maybe in five or ten years’ time… Lots of <3 to you on this beautiful Sunday morning.

          • Mishimoo
            April 13, 2014 at 6:54 am #

            I’m lucky enough to have a mormor and a morfar, and they’re both lovely. We had morning tea/lunch/coffee with them today and they got to enjoy time with their great-grandchildren. Lots of <3 to you too!

          • Siri
            April 13, 2014 at 7:02 am #

            Say hello to your besteforeldre from a Norwegian in exile! Sadly I have none left, but my kids have a wonderful set (and my elder ones also see them independently of me, which is lovely). 🙂

    • birthbuddy
      April 11, 2014 at 5:43 am #

      Open minded or air headed?

    • stenvenywrites
      April 11, 2014 at 10:56 am #

      Somebody needs a nap.

    • Renee Martin
      April 11, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

      It will be a great memory (you assume) because ALL WENT WELL.
      You know what? If they had a crystal ball, and knew the outcome would be fine, I would say great, have at it!

      The problem is you do not know. When it doesn’t go well, it can be a real horror show. I don’t think that is worth the risk. Its moms right to make this choice, and ours to ignore, criticize, or support.

      PRO TIP- If you don’t like this page, you don’t have to read it! However, since you are so ignorant that you think that we only push CS, and hate NCB (LOL, LOTS of NCBers and HBers here!), well, you are probably beyond reasoning with.

    • Renee Martin
      April 11, 2014 at 3:22 pm #

      Thanks for proving Dr Amys point:

      “A laboring woman should be the star,”

      • Melissa
        April 11, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

        I sadly have heard women say this before when talking about why they want homebirth. One person casually told me that doctors see lots of patients and she wants a midwife and doula focused totally on her.

        It isn’t something I understand at all, but I guess it is just a natural extension of a society that says that women must be in background roles except on their “special” days (prom, wedding, and now giving birth). I skipped my own college graduation because I hated the feeling of all that attention. I don’t see why I’d enjoy it more if it was people focused on me when I was in pain.

    • meglo91
      April 14, 2014 at 2:57 am #

      You are nuts. Laboring women don’t need to be stars, particularly if being a “star” means pressing their other young children into service as birth attendants. Sane people realize that birth, at the best of times, is messy and painful, and at its worst is life-threatening. Because young children often saw their mothers in labor in times past does not mean it’s ideal or helpful for the kid.
      I’ve had two children. Neither time did I feel the need to be a star. I wanted a safe birth and a healthy baby. I got both, both times. And the second time I felt no need to force my two year old to bring me ice chips or whatever. It was enough to see her running into my hospital room the next day, lisping that she had “mithed” me and asking to see her new sister. I was never a star, just damn lucky and damn grateful.

  31. Tabitha Ziegler Yaffe
    April 10, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

    When I was drinking the MDC KoolAid on a regular basis, I considered homebirth for the birth of my 5th child for convenience reasons – i.e. not being away from my older children for several days while baby and I recover in the hospital. With no extended family nearby, and hubby in the Army, there is always a possibility of going into labor without a ready support system or reliable childcare. In my case, I had no selfish desire to have my children support me through a birth. Rather, I didn’t want to have the added worry of finding caregivers for them. That said, I decided to have this baby at a hospital with CNMs because my baby had a VSD at 28 weeks (resolved on it’s own by birth), and I felt it would be best to have a NICU available for possible complications.

  32. Dr Kitty
    April 10, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    Having seen how well some adults handle being spectators at a birth (vomiting, fainting, panic attacks, running away) I REALLY don’t think it is a good idea to have small children present.

    I totally agree with Dr Amy that small children need to believe their parents are strong and can protect them. My parents lost my infant sister when I was 4. I ended up working out with a counsellor that my need to protect them stems from seeing their distress as a small child and being unable to process it.

    Hard as it is, if you have kids under 6, you have to keep yourself together.
    Your kids cannot deal with seeing you in pain, incapacitated or otherwise unable to care for them at that stage of their development.

    If you want secure, happy little kids you need to maintain the illusion of parental indestructibility.

    • toni
      April 10, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

      I agree to a point but of course sometimes seeing your parents compromised is unavoidable and I don’t think you should agonise over it if it happens. But yes really bad form to force them to see you in a painful, dangerous situation if they don’t need to. It’s better for their sake for them to believe you are always able to protect them.

      • Dr Kitty
        April 10, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

        Oh absolutely.
        You can only try your best to maintain the illusion.
        Obviously, if you collapse at home with an APH or you all get involved in a MVC, you kid will see stuff you don’t really want them to see.
        But choosing to subject them to these things…nope, not in their best interest.

        • Amazed
          April 10, 2014 at 7:47 pm #

          Last week, I scared the shit out of a 5 year old when I collapsed on the floor. It was nothing this serious, I regained consciousness pretty fast. He was so terrified, though.

          I cannot imagine a mother who would subject her child to this.

          • drsquid
            April 11, 2014 at 7:51 pm #

            i tripped over their endless junk in the living room and hurt my toes pretty badly. this of course led to hysterical crying from my twins despite me not crying out. the crashing noise was enough to set them off. i had to lie on the floor and reassure them all was well.. cant imagine purposelyexposing them to trauma

      • KarenJJ
        April 10, 2014 at 7:18 pm #

        I’m hearing impaired. My kids sometimes have to hear things for me – they can’t escape the fact I’m not going to hear as well as them or other parents. They do sometimes get very frustrated with my inability to hear and understand them. I can’t protect them from that and I don’t agonise about it.

        • NoLongerCrunching
          April 11, 2014 at 6:50 am #

          That could be seen as expecting your small child to do a job that is age appropriate and helps the family. Young children used to do plenty of work around the family farm that the family needed and depended on them for, and gave them a sense of pride and belonging. The difference is that it didn’t involve seeing their parents in pain/distress.

          • April 11, 2014 at 7:19 am #

            I did a lot of chores when I was young, but none involved blood or pain.

        • Amazed
          April 11, 2014 at 7:33 am #

          But that’s just how you are. You couldn’t help it. And perhaps your children never knew you as not hearing impaired. That doesn’t mean they don’t see you as an authority they can rely on to protect them. You didn’t suddenly stick your fingers in your ears when you had no reason to, start screaming in pain and expect them to help you when you had no reason to, did you?

          Your post reminded me of how shocked I was in high school when I found out that albinos were rare and that they had biological “explanation”, so to say. I’ve known two albino brothers since I was born. Friends of my parents’. To me, they didn’t look any different, although sometimes it crossed my mind that I never saw other people looking like them in the street. There are things of life, there are extraordinary situations you cannot get out of (Elizabeth’s post above), and then there are extraordinary situations you create yourself. The last kind of situations I really cannot fathom when they include doing things that would stress your kids when you could avoid it.

        • Hannah
          April 11, 2014 at 11:16 am #

          My mother has lupus. I spent my entire childhood knowing she was not invincible and knowing she suffered with pain at times but she never, ever would have my brother or I in the position of being actively involved in her care and ‘treating’ her pain. Chores are not the same as providing pain relief in a birthing pool.

    • Elizabeth A
      April 10, 2014 at 8:32 pm #

      Hard as it is, if you have kids under 6, you have to keep yourself together. Your
      kids cannot deal with seeing you in pain, incapacitated or otherwise
      unable to care for them at that stage of their development.

      If you want secure, happy little kids you need to maintain the illusion of parental indestructibility.

      If only it were that simple.

      I was diagnosed with cancer when my daughter was two and a half and my son was five. We only have the one house, and that house has only 1.5 bathrooms, and two year-olds are not known for knocking. So the kids have seen a lot. The only alternative would have been to send them away entirely, to have them live somewhere else, which doesn’t seem like something they were equipped to do either. Certainly it was not something I was equipped to do.

      We did sign up support people for the kids, to free up DH to support me, and me to be ill when I was ill. But they have surely noticed that I am not invincible. They are not entirely unscarred by the whole thing, and their security does not always resemble the security of their peers who haven’t had this experience, but I believe they are happier and better off having been here then they would be if I had sent them to live somewhere else for the twelve months that it took me to complete treatment.

      I’m not saying that the little girl trying to apply counterpressure is appropriate. I would find the photo less disturbing if there was eye contact between the little girl and an adult. Or if the little girl were “helping” an adult apply counterpressure.

      • FormerPhysicist
        April 10, 2014 at 8:36 pm #

        I’m so sorry you went through that. I hope you’re healthy now. I think the invincible thing is over-stated, and sometimes you only have bad options. But I still wouldn’t want children at a birth.

      • NoLongerCrunching
        April 11, 2014 at 6:51 am #

        You made the best decision in a situation that was shitty for your whole family. Maybe they do see you as invincible, since you kicked cancer’s ass!

      • Hannah
        April 11, 2014 at 11:20 am #

        I’m sorry that you went through that. I guess, for me, the difference is that you thought about how it would impact your kids and did you best to mitigate the risks by having other care so your husband could be your caregiver. As I said above, my mother has lupus and I spent my entire childhood (the period where it was poorly managed) knowing my mother was very unwell at times. The difference was that she and my father ensured that my brother and I were not actively involved in her care in an inappropriate manner. Sure, it still impacted us (me particularly) but it wasn’t despite her best efforts to shield us.

      • Dr Kitty
        April 11, 2014 at 11:36 am #

        You made the best choice you could given your circumstances, of course you shouldn’t have sent your kids away.

        Just like my parents didn’t have the option of not being devastated about losing their baby.

        I just don’t think the wisest parenting choice *when you have a choice in the matter* is to involve your very small child in providing care for you when you are incapacitated.

        If having them NOT be at the birth is a workable solution, then it is likely to be the best one, because it protects them from a potentially traumatic and overwhelming experience.

        Having someone care for your kids for 24-48 hrs while you have a baby is workable for most people, while having someone care for your kids for the period of time while you recover from serious illness or bereavement isn’t.

  33. April 10, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

    I heard somewhere that becoming a parent is the opportunity to correct all the things you saw wrong in your own childhood – perhaps these women feel as though they were excluded during the arrivals of their siblings and are seeking to correct for that. Shame they can’t deal with their own issues without inflicting different issues on their own children… Of course, by this logic those that copy what their parents did, must feel that their parents “did it right”…but then again there is the whole “cycle of abuse thing” where those who had horrific childhoods might be pre-disposed to inflicting horrific childhoods on their own children. It would be interesting to get the take of a developmental psychologist on this issue.

    • anne
      April 10, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

      I experienced abuse as a child, sexual and otherwise. One of the things I’ve learned as a parent is that it can be hard to create a sense of safety for your child if you haven’t experienced it yourself. When I was pregnant I considered homebirth. Sometimes I wonder if there isn’t a segment of women who are attracted to NCB because of past trauma – they are told that there doesn’t have to be pain, that they will be in control (really appealing if your body has ever been used against you), and the lack of boundaries.

      If you are used to a dysfunctional level of enmeshment because of your background then professional courtesy and detachment can seem brusque and uncaring.

      All of my armchair psychology makes me ragey because I think that NCB preys on a vulnerable portion of the population.

      • PrimaryCareDoc
        April 10, 2014 at 3:50 pm #

        I think this is very perceptive.

      • Laura
        April 10, 2014 at 5:16 pm #

        I really see how this can be true. Although I am not a survivor of sexual abuse, I am extremely sensitive to women who have been and who are pregnant and preparing for childbirth. When I become a CNM, I will be intentional about sensitively inquiring into this possible aspect of their past to discuss how we can minimize any emotional trauma during the birth and maximize her comfort and security in the hospital.

      • Rea
        April 10, 2014 at 8:41 pm #

        I think this is true. When I was into AP, several of the women in my local group talked about how they were abused as children–one even said there was a whole period of life she couldn’t remember.
        I definitely think many women think that by raising their children AP they can give their children a better childhood than they had and cure their own trauma through their children. After going through therapy myself, I realized that if you’re raising your kids a very specific way because of how your parents raised you, you need therapy, not a parenting philosophy.

      • Melissa
        April 11, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

        I think you are probably right. Especially about the enmeshment stuff. I have seen so many people choose new age gurus for help dealing with issues that should really be handled by trained psychologists. But when you don’t know how to create boundaries it is hard to appreciate why they are important to healing. If the gurus actually helped them progress that would be one thing, but far too often they only treat the symptoms and not the problem leading to a cycle of dependency.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          April 11, 2014 at 8:27 pm #

          “….we got a genuine Indian guru…teaching us a better way…”

          Wow, it’s rare that I get a good opportunity to throw in a Dr Hook reference…

  34. Ellen Mary
    April 10, 2014 at 2:55 pm #

    Hospitals will allow you to have your children present as long as they have a dedicated care provider & can choose to be there or not. Hospital birth does not mean ‘no children allowed’, just clearing that up.

  35. Renee Martin
    April 10, 2014 at 2:40 pm #

    This was said down thread, but is perfect and deserves its own post:

    “The picture itself is well composed and beautifully shot, but that doesn’t make it ok. It makes it a pretty picture of a bad fucking idea.”

    Thank you Kumquatwriter, you said it perfectly.

    • sdsures
      April 10, 2014 at 3:40 pm #

      I too noticed how the picture is well composed and beautifully shot.

      My mind screams, “On purpose!”

      • Hannah
        April 10, 2014 at 5:12 pm #

        Absolutely on purpose. I am a photographer, I know only too well the lengths some people will go to have that ‘blogworthy moment’ like this.

        • April 10, 2014 at 6:19 pm #

          One of my earliest lessons in how I’m not the star in motherhood was letting go of all the pictures I dreamed of taking/having. My son would not (still won’t) tolerate being posed and will deliberately stop cute things if he even senses a camera. It’s just one of those mommy dreams that wasn’t going to happen. I let it go, because my son is happy and healthy, and I have plenty of nonstaged pictures I love. It’s life. It’s not a photoshoot.

          • Hannah
            April 10, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

            I hate having my photo taken, despite being a photographer, I am trying to go in them more because I loved looking at old photos of my mother as a kid…especially while pregnant.

            I plan to take lots of photos but I have zero expectations about them being perfect or pin worthy of whatever, I just want them to have the memories I have of my childhood, even if the photos aren’t ‘perfect’.

        • sdsures
          April 11, 2014 at 10:08 am #

          Funny how photographs usually don’t come with soundtracks. I guess this one’s would be too “negative”.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            April 11, 2014 at 11:30 am #

            Thank goodness for digital photography. All those negatives associated with the old days were really harshing the buzz.

          • sdsures
            April 11, 2014 at 12:22 pm #

            We could pipe in some soundtrack from the shower scene in “Psycho”!

  36. Bombshellrisa
    April 10, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

    Thank you for writing about this. My husband went through this with his crunchy family. He was 7 or 8 when his brother was born at home and his father insisted he and his older sister be there for the birth. His father waxed on about how “beautiful” the birth would be. My husband ended up terrified, and the birth was uneventful. Well, there was lots of screaming and blood and he was on the business end of the birth and he told me he saw what a tear looked like, and what it looks like to be stitched up. The friendly but clueless midwives and his father wanted him to be “educated” about birth. If anything, the experience made him sure that the only place to have a baby is a hospital

    • April 10, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

      Well if it entrenched the idea of hospital birth, perhaps this is the best thing they can do for their children, so that the next generation might be spared.

      • Bombshellrisa
        April 10, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

        I agree. He was expecting “beautiful” to look different than what he saw. I can only imagine what a home birth disaster would have done to him

    • sdsures
      April 10, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

      Ugh, way to scare the crap deliberately out of your own kids! That’s cruel!

      • Bombshellrisa
        April 10, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

        His father didn’t see it that way, but we are talking about someone who had his wife with Hodgkin’s lymphoma take herbal tea to treat it (and she ended up UC’ing when she had my husband because the midwife was at a party and wouldn’t leave). He was passionate about things like goats milk and UC but wasn’t in touch with anyone’s needs but his

    • realitycheque
      April 11, 2014 at 12:54 am #

      Can you IMAGINE if something went wrong? Your small child being exposed to the frantic terror of a shoulder dystocia, or their mother bleeding to death in front of them? Talk about trauma.

  37. anne
    April 10, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

    I find that a lot of people who choose homebirth have a problem with boundaries. Kids, midwives, they don’t know where to draw the line.

  38. Elaine
    April 10, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    I would have torn my hair out if I’d had my 2 1/2 yo there when her brother was born. Even assuming she wasn’t upset by seeing mommy upset, I wouldn’t have wanted the constant stream of questions! I came home from work in early labor and had my husband just pick her up from day care and take her to the grandparents’ so I didn’t have to a. worry about taking her there later on or b. deal with getting interrogated by her. The toddler interrogation is hard for me to deal with under the best of circumstances.

    My oldest cousin was there and helped as a labor coach when her youngest brother was born, but she was 15 or so at the time, so not really the same scenario.

    Oh, I saw the same advice someone else mentioned about not holding the new baby or having him/her with you when the sib comes in. It even suggested sending baby to the nursery and then all going together to get him when the older sib is there. We did not follow that advice and somehow everything worked out fine.

    • MaineJen
      April 10, 2014 at 4:35 pm #

      I purposely wasn’t holding my daughter when my son came to the hospital to meet his new sister for the first time. I had her in her bassinet, and I greeted my son with a big hug and kiss, and said how happy I was to see him, before we went together to look at the new baby. (Luckily, she was sleeping). I didn’t read that anywhere, but it just seemed like a good idea, as my little man is given to intense emotions/reactions and tends to get jealous. He was only 2 at the time and I doubt he remembers it, but it did make for a more gentle introduction.

      • desiree
        April 10, 2014 at 6:59 pm #

        When I had Maggie, I got back to my room from recovery just a few moments before my H and Nina (then close to 3) wheeled Maggie into our room. I didn’t plan it that way, but it was super cute, and afterwards a nurse told me that that’s a great way to do introductions–have the big sib bring the baby to mom so they can feel like they’re getting to introduce the baby and they’re still the star. Lucky coincidence!

        • Jessica S.
          April 10, 2014 at 9:29 pm #

          Oh, I like this idea. I’m preg with number 2 and my son is 3.5 yrs old. I don’t know what to expect from him, although he is pretty sensitive and it takes him awhile to warm up to new surroundings.

      • Elaine
        April 11, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

        I think there is definitely some merit to the idea… I would have considered it in a little more depth if a. we had been okay with sending the baby to the nursery, but we wanted to keep him with us, and b. I hadn’t been on my own since my husband had gone home to excavate the driveway since our son was born in the middle of a huge snowstorm. We’ve been lucky, though; our girl has adjusted very well to the birth of her baby brother.

        Also, on the actual topic of a post, I don’t have a large problem with a little kid being present in early labor, and I don’t have a problem with kids being asked to help their parents sometimes, as long as it IS made clear that this isn’t required of the kid, it’s optional, and they do have the option to bail at any time. When my husband was sick and I was running the household by myself, if my daughter had asked for something to do (as she asks multiple times a day), I don’t think it would have been exploitative or having her parent her parent to have her take a glass of water to her daddy since he was sick in bed. A less intense phase of labor could be comparable. I would remove the kids before the screaming and blood started.

  39. Renee Martin
    April 10, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

    It can be extremely traumatic for a sibling when the HB goes badly. You have to figure- in the average, successful (no one dies) HB, there will be screaming and moaning, blood and mess, and that is bad enough. I know adult men that cannot stand the scene.

    Now, imagine what the kid sees when mom has: an abruption, a PPH, a shoulder dystocia, the baby “falls out dead, with no warning”, baby is grey, etc, and there are EMT’s, resuscitation efforts, frantic cries. It is ugly. It is scary.

    Even if the parents put the kids in their own space for the actual delivery, they will be aware of what is going on. it is not fair to them. Just because MOM thinks of birth as a fairy land of wonder, doesn’t mean her kids will think so.

    (and eeeeewwww to having your kid in that toilet, I mean, tub. And I bet she thinks pools are gross…)

    • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
      April 10, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

      I was four when my mother started hemorrhaging at home (placenta previa/transverse baby) We had moved in with my grandparents because her doctor wanted her to have someone with her 24/7. To this day I have a VERY vivid and terrifying memory of my grandmother practically carrying my mom to the car and and the car flying out of the driveway. My great grandfather stayed with me, and mopped up all the blood…

      Thanks to an emergency C/S, hysterectomy, and blood donors everyone lived. Trust birth my a$$

      • Guest
        April 10, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

        I’m sorry you have that memory, but thank you so much for sharing, every story shared on here will help people. I love Trust birth my a$$!!!!

      • Elizabeth A
        April 10, 2014 at 8:39 pm #

        This is why I was so glad that I hemorrhaged at *night*, when my underfoot son was asleep. All the blood was mopped up before he woke in the morning, to the news that I was at the hospital with his new baby sister.

    • Guest
      April 10, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

      Shoulder dystocia, resuscitation.. I can’t understand why you would think it would be a good idea to risk your child seeing that unless you were so convinced that good positioning and positive thinking would avoid anything bad happening. It is easy to be convinced of those things if you read certain books and listen to certain people.

    • anonymous regular
      April 10, 2014 at 9:38 pm #

      I had my pre-school age daughter at my homebirth and I regretted it afterwards. It wasn’t even that anything really bad happened – the birth went ok, she was only there for the last 10 minutes or so and seemed quite unfazed in the moment. But a few weeks later, she said to me, “Mommy, you screamed.” And she mentioned it a few more times over the next few months. And I felt ashamed. Ashamed that I had put her there, that I hadn’t protected her from this.

      • Jessica S.
        April 10, 2014 at 11:00 pm #

        Isn’t it amazing what they pull out of their memories weeks after something? Often times is hilarious, but it’s also a cautionary tale – they don’t miss a single thing!

  40. Eater of Worlds
    April 10, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

    My mother had very painful dental procedures when I was a kid. I was the one who took care of her at home, bloody gauze while she sobbed in pain. I don’t understand why she didn’t take prescription pain medication.

    This is why all dentistry beyond a basic cleaning means I have to be sedated.

    • sdsures
      April 10, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

      I know it’s frustrating to watch, but some people just don’t like taking the pain meds. My mom had tooth problems that left her in such pain she was unable to attend my wedding! But she couldn’t or wouldn’t take the pain meds.

      • attitude devant
        April 10, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

        So, I’ve been at this long enough and read enough papers that I think that pain meds are great in labor, particularly regional anesthesia. There is a whole body of anesthetic literature showing IMPROVED outcomes (higher APGAR scores, faster labors in certain settings) with regional anesthesia. So it’s really, really, really hard for me to watch a woman be super painful in labor. Having said that, I do support women in unmedicated labors. If that’s what they want, that’s what they get and I am not going to push pain relief on them. I just think it is worth acknowledging that as caregivers we find that hard.

        • Karen in SC
          April 10, 2014 at 4:44 pm #

          Improved outcomes? Well doesn’t that shoot a hole in the NCB fabric?

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            April 10, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

            No, because you are focusing on the wrong outcomes.

        • sdsures
          April 11, 2014 at 10:10 am #

          No easy solution, is there?

      • Eater of Worlds
        April 16, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

        Yeah, but as a child in grammar school I shouldn’t have been the one to take care of her. She had a husband for that. I was 7 when I first started having to take care of her and change her bloody gauze. You just don’t do that to young kids especially when you have other choices. If she didn’t want her husband to do it she had friends she could have called for help.

        • sdsures
          April 20, 2014 at 9:07 am #

          That IS weird, and very bad you had to go through that.

    • Medwife
      April 10, 2014 at 10:08 pm #

      I upvoted purely for sedation during all dental work. Let the nitrous flow or I dig furrows into the arm rests.

  41. Comrade X
    April 10, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

    I think it would be one thing if mum was having the baby in hospital, was surrounded by well-qualified personnel who were there to look after her, and she’d had an epidural so that she wasn’t, in fact, in terrible pain. And, of course, if there was, as other people have mentioned below, someone there specifically to take care of the older child and remove them from the situation if they found it overwhelming. I really would have no problem with that, if everyone involved (including the child) wanted to do it. Mum is safe and looked after (by appropriate adults), the kid is safe and looked after by appropriate adults, and kid gets to witness the miracle of birth. Great.

    The photographed situation is somewhat different though. Mum is in intense pain and she is not in a safe place surrounded by life-saving technology and qualified professionals. But that’s not the worst of it. As Dr Tuteur points out, this child is not merely *witnessing” her mother giving birth, she is ACTIVELY INVOLVED IN CARING FOR HER MOTHER during the process of birth. This truly is obscene, utterly obscene. I was made into a parent-figure for both of my parents as a child, in various ways, it was incredibly traumatizing and it has left me scarred for life in some ways. It is abuse, plain and simple. When you have a child, it is YOUR JOB to LOOK AFTER THEM. It is NOT THEIR JOB to LOOK AFTER YOU. End of story. Your four-year-old daughter might be ever so intelligent and ever so mature (and as my mother still says to me to justify her behaviour, “have the vocabulary of an adult”) but it is NOT HER FUCKING JOB to worry about your pain, worry about your blood loss, comfort you or provide fucking counter-pressure on your back during a fucking labour contraction. We have people for that – well-trained, paid adults who have signed up for the job. Your four-year-old is not a doctor, she’s not a nurse, and she’s not your fucking mummy. Grow up and take some sodding responsibility.

    This picture is really haunting to me, because I feel like I can put myself into the little girl’s shoes and then these feelings of fear, intense worry, and overwhelming responsibility that I am scared I cannot cope with just come flooding back to me, even though I was never in that precise specific situation.

  42. anh
    April 10, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

    when I was about 5 I watched my mother faint. It was so horrific and terrifying I have nightmares about it TO THIS DAY.

    I have been in labor. Next time I’m going to the hospital as soon as possible just so my darling Lily doesn’t have to be as scared as I once was.

    • Zornorph
      April 10, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

      I walked in on my mother giving herself an enema once. I wish I hadn’t.

  43. Susan
    April 10, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    always,’t agree entirely on this. I ha e always worked at hospitals that will allow siblings at births and have seen it quite a bit. We have rules, and way back in the eighties when I was into homebirth these were the guidelines commonly used. The sibling who might be at the birth had to always, at any time, be free to decide not to attend. The child had to have a support person there monitoring that the child was doing fine who was there only as the child’s support. That person had to be willing to miss the birth themselves so they could babysit the child. It was standard to do a lot of preparing for the sights and sounds of births to help the child know what to expect. As anyone who does it knows, some births are pretty uneventful without much screaming and it really doesn’t have to look that scary. Though I agree it can be all about performance art, I have seen too many times it be a very beautiful thing where the sibling is engaged and happy. Have I seen the sibling leave? Plenty. Why? Most common reason is BOREDOM…. labor is longer than a child’s attention span most of the time. So I would still be fine with it but only with the rules I stated. May sound weird but when it works out it’s lovely. Like most things about childbirth though you can’t be invested in happening. And that support person most of all needs to put the child’s desire to leave above her desire to stay.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      April 10, 2014 at 1:27 pm #

      May sound weird but when it works out it’s lovely.

      Yeah, but doesn’t that apply to anything? There are a lot of stupid things that are awesome when they work out, but that doesn’t make them stupid.

      “Watch me jump my bike over the cesspool filled with man-eating alligators!”

      When it works, it’s awesome.

      • Susan
        April 10, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

        That’s the idea though.. be flexible enough to change plans and realize ultimately, it cannot be planned, if it works out fine if not it’s everyone being safe, physically and emotionally, that matters over any plan for something this unpredictable.

        • attitude devant
          April 10, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

          I actually get in parents’ faces about this at births I attend. I say that if a child is going to be there, there MUST be an adult assigned to that child’s welfare. I have them identify that adult to me at the beginning of the labor and I say, OK, so I understand you are going to be taking care of Susie while Mary births the new baby. I tell them this means they must entertain Susie, feed Susie and toilet Susie. And I tell them in advance that if Susie is getting overwhelmed I will direct them to take Susie out.

          Usually, this is all it takes, because Susie gets bored and winds up going home early on. OR that adult realizes that they might miss the big moment and arranges a different place for Susie to be.

          And yes, all small children wind up being taken out because they ALL get overwhelmed. It’s just in the nature of being a child.

          • Susan
            April 10, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

            Yes, that’s what usually happens. I have seen it work great to have kids there but I agree it’s not usually the very young children who end up staying. I get most ticked off when that support person for the child is ignoring that the child is bored and not enjoying being there at all.

    • Renee Martin
      April 10, 2014 at 2:27 pm #

      In a hospital, sure.
      But at home, if it goes badly, it goes so very badly.

    • expat
      April 10, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

      My labor took a bit longer than expected and my husband had to pick up the kids halfway through 2 hours of pushing. They came in to say hi. I smiled and then they hung out in the waiting room with a nurse while my husband stayed with me as I sobbed because the pushing just wasn’t working and neither was the epidural. My little fat baby did make her entrance at the last minute before giving up and my kids got to come in shortly after. I could smile and reassure them, but they looked unnerved by the blood all over my gown. DO NOT try this at home. I heard my father cry once and it was the most terrifying thing I ever felt. Kids don’t like that shit.

  44. The Bofa on the Sofa
    April 10, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    When my wife was young (like 6), she would spend her time out in the barn watching calves being born.

    Although she never had any interest in a NCB, nor even a VB.

    I don’t know if there is a correlation.

    • Guestll
      April 10, 2014 at 5:33 pm #

      My husband grew up on a dairy farm and watched and assisted at many a calving. He saw firsthand how birth could go horribly wrong in short order. No interest in NCB (particularly homebirth) either.

      • Haelmoon
        April 10, 2014 at 8:07 pm #

        My cousin lives on a dairy farm. I used to help my uncle birth cows. Funny, I ended up as a perinatologist and she ended up with two elective c-sections. We knew not to trust birth.

        First delivery I ever did was an extraction of a stuck calf. Forceps aren’t as scary as a chain!!

        **edited for post-call spelling errors.

  45. Amy Tuteur, MD
    April 10, 2014 at 1:14 pm #

    “Parentification” is the term for pressuring children into adult roles. Here’s an interesting article for lay people on parentification. Although it talks about parentification after divorce, it is applicable to other parentification scenarios.

  46. T.
    April 10, 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    I think it is a sneaky way to make population rate drop. I remember seeing a video of a woman giving birth in High School, and there are at least one woman in my class who got a tubal in part because of that video (I wish for one, but for other reasons).

    It can be very shocking. As in, astonishingly shocking. With long-lasting effect to witness labor.

  47. The Computer Ate My Nym
    April 10, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    To me this is demonstrative of yet another social reason to avoid home birth: Even if you appropriately decide not to let/make the child witness the birth, you’re still in the same house, the child can still hear you scream in pain, the child still sees people running back and forth and adults acting excited and scared…in short, the child knows something is up. She or he is likely to want to come help. I remember one of the stories in Hurt by Homebirth talking about how the older kids kept coming in to check on their mother and how that became distracting and distressing in itself. It’s very hard to separate out the birth well enough to keep the children from being traumatized by it, even if you try to keep the door closed and the kids otherwise occupied. It’s so much easier to go to the hospital and come back with a baby, without the kids witnessing any of the events in between.

    Semi-related thought: I wonder if the people who let their children witness childbirth have hypnotized themselves with the “it’s not painful in ‘nature'” nonsense to the point that they really think that the birth won’t be painful or traumatic and it really will be a beautiful event. Who wouldn’t want their children involved in a beautiful and significant event, after all?

    • April 10, 2014 at 1:10 pm #

      At every homebirth I attended in the UK, the scenario went more or less like this: Mum begins having contractions, husband summons midwives, calls Gran, the older child or children [age range is usually between 2 and 5 years; maximum three siblings] wake up, too. Often it is when Gran arrives, and the children, out of their regular routine, are frightened and upset, want reassurance from Mum, who is valiantly trying NOT to moan or squeal. Midwives arrive, strangers to the children, who reinforce the idea that Something Isn’t Normal. Dad busy with Mum, and/or Gran, and/or children. Gran often isn’t any help at all but increases the anxious atmosphere. At some point there is screaming — mother, baby, or both — from behind the closed door of the bedroom, and the older children often begin crying, too. Even the sight of Mum and new baby, now all cleaned up, rarely calms the children completely. Who really wanted this new stranger, anyway? Why is Mum too tired to make them breakfast? Gran doesn’t know what they like to eat!

      Later in the day, when I’d make a postpartum visit, despite my urging the mother to rest, she’d be up and cooking and washing [Gran is not comfortable with the “fancy” washing machine], the baby is hungry, and the children are demanding attention because of all the shocks they’ve absorbed during the last day or so. Dad is tired too, and feels ignored.

      So much for the romance of homebirth.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym
        April 10, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

        Gran often isn’t any help at all but increases the anxious atmosphere.

        Gran is witnessing her daughter or daughter-in-law in horrible pain and is unable to do anything about it. My mother’s good with crises, but I still didn’t want her to be the one with me in the OR when I had the c-section. Too hard on her.

        • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
          April 10, 2014 at 3:08 pm #

          This. I would and will be in the delivery room (if she wants me to be)with my daughter if/when she chooses to have kids. But, having been there when she broke her arm and it had to be set and then being there for the 2 surgeries that followed, I am pretty good at keeping my fear of my face, but it kills me to see her in pain and not be able to make it stop.

          • Haelmoon
            April 10, 2014 at 8:20 pm #

            My mom is bad wit anything medical at all. I had all preemies. The youngest was born at 29 weeks, we didn’t call grandma until the baby was 24 hours old and stable (extubated, room air only, a bit of a show off actually).
            I didn’t want to have to look after my mom and myself.

        • Mishimoo
          April 10, 2014 at 10:53 pm #

          I couldn’t have my mother in with me, it would have been way too much drama and I would have been looking after her. (Parentification is ‘normal’ in my family of origin)

        • drsquid
          April 11, 2014 at 3:21 pm #

          my mom was in the or with me. i think it was pretty hard on her but she was a trooper (other than having to go get something to eat and sit down cause she hadnt eaten all day.. oops)

      • toni
        April 10, 2014 at 1:21 pm #

        Dad feels ignored? Well that’s just pathetic

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          April 10, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

          Not to come to the defense of whiny dads who think it is about them, but one way this can happen is if he wants to help but is getting pushed aside.

          Ignored? Not so much. Blown off (and not in a good way)? Very possible.

          • Hannah
            April 10, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

            Particularly in a culture that can tend towards writing men off as oppressors. So if dad raises concerns about the process, he is being a patriarchal ass, his feelings on mum suffering or baby’s welfare be damned.

          • Haelmoon
            April 10, 2014 at 8:19 pm #

            It is possible for us to “blow-off” the dads. It is not always the best thing to do, because they are often frightened too, especially when something is going wrong.

            I remember a case as a resident where we did a truly crash c-section, and the baby still died (APGARS 0,0,0, heart beat at 20 min breifly, then died). Dad sat in the hall outside of the OR, and watched everyone coming and going, but no one stopped to talk to him. He didn’t even know it was a boy or girl until after the baby was declared dead and they brought him the little body to hold. It was one of the saddest things I ever saw. I make sure that dads are kept in the loop because of that case. Later in my career, I did another crash c-section for an abruption and baby was dead. Mom needed a hysterectomy for uterine atony (Couvelaire uterus). I had the assistant hold the uterus compressed after clamping the uterine arteries, then scrubbed out to talk to dad. He needed to have this update in person, he knew the baby was dead, but now I was taking the uterus and any future children as well. We were waiting for blood products to arrive (we were a a level one centre and used up everything in the hospital – platelets, RBC and fresh frozen, more was coming by ambulance from the nearest large hospital).

            This is not to say that some dads on needy, we just should not assume they understand what is happening, and we should as a team make sure someone talks to them if their partner is unable to give them the updates.

          • Jessica S.
            April 10, 2014 at 10:28 pm #

            “Blown off (and not in a good way)?”

            *gasps!* well, I never! *clutches pearls*

        • April 10, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

          Remember he’s just had a stressful time, too. A lot of men have a lot of (sometimes imaginary, but still frightening) deep fears about labor and birth: some unanticipated catastrophe that leaves them the sole parent with several children–also that they won’t be able to cope watching their wives suffer, and the wives will think them weak and/or incompetent…there are all sorts of inchoate fears that leave THEM in need of a bit of TLC when everyone is concentrating on Mum and baby. Husbands are people, too!

          • toni
            April 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm #

            Tired and overwrought I understand but getting the hump because no one is paying him attention after his wife has been through hell and there’s a new family member to worry about is infantile behaviour.

          • Melissa
            April 11, 2014 at 4:17 pm #

            My father is terrified of blood (although he can watch gory films, but in real life he goes white when I tell him I donated blood). So he and Mom agreed that he’d stay out of the delivery room until I was born and all cleaned up. But the nurses misunderstood and brought him in when I was being born. He promptly passed out and my poor mother had to try and catch me while the doctors tried to take care of him.

            Next time around was a planned c-section and she made sure to leave him at home watching me, far away from the hospital.

      • Guest
        April 10, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

        There is a woman on Facebook who seems genuinely confused about why anyone would prefer the hospital to a homebirth. Your post nails it. 1) I do not want a gigantic feces and blood filled kiddie pool in my living room, YUCK; 2) I do not want to sit in said pool, much less for hours in agony, far away from medical care; 3) I do not want to worry about my older children, or have to care for them. I want to know they are in the best possible hands, at home in their routines, and I don’t have to worry about them until the birth is over and I am feeling ready to parent again; 4) I don’t want a bunch of damn people in my house, in my personal space. I want good boundaries and clear lines between birth/home/family/and caregiver. To me, a homebirth sounds like a nightmarish hell and I would never want any woman to feel she had to have one.

      • Laura
        April 10, 2014 at 2:44 pm #

        That is so sad but very realistic. I stayed extra long after one hospital birth because I knew I would be going home to three little kids and a newborn. It was just what I needed!

        • KarenJJ
          April 10, 2014 at 8:09 pm #

          One of my favourite memories of my hospital stay was lying up in bed with my newborn asleep on my chest and reading a book. I knew I wasn’t going to get that sort of time with my baby when we are at home with my toddler as well.

        • April 10, 2014 at 11:57 pm #

          In the 70s, there was a legal requirement that every PP mother be under her midwife’s care until the 10th day after birth. Unless the home was “unsuitable” [there were a few, but strict, conditions applicable], she would be discharged from hospital after 48 hours. On more than one occasion, when booking a newly pregnant woman, and seeing she was a candidate for a second homebirth, I’d be told that “No, I don’t want to deliver at home again. This time, I want the hospital, and I want THE FULL 10 DAY STAY!”

    • toni
      April 10, 2014 at 1:20 pm #

      Not everyone is noisy in childbirth.. if you had an easyish time with previous births it’s fair to assume there won’t be deafening screams next time. My littlest sister was born at home in UK, we didn’t hear a thing from downstairs til she was actually born and we heard the crying. I was very quiet having my son too. Just not in our natures to be loud I guess!

      We definitely wouldn’t have been allowed into the bedroom where it when it was happening.. in fact we were never allowed in our parents’ room at any time lol

      • Laura
        April 10, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

        I delivered several of my babies with a mere whimper – until my sixth baby who was a shoulder dystocia and then my own screaming traumatized ME. I am so glad my children weren’t around to witness that. That could not have been foreseen. And with my 5th baby my 9 year old opted out of witnessing her sister’s birth which was just fine with me.

      • Mishimoo
        April 10, 2014 at 10:44 pm #

        I’m also quiet, though I did swear while pushing with the last because I wanted him out already. Other than that, the most noise I tend to make is to calmly say “Just so you know, I feel like I’m tearing towards my urethra. Can you check that, please?’

        I tend to go really calm and deliberate when I’m worried or in pain, because my dad reminded me over and over as a kid that “No one can help you adequately if you freak out and don’t communicate clearly.”

        • Young CC Prof
          April 11, 2014 at 12:47 am #

          I was like that when the pain control after my hernia repair failed, very quiet and internalized. Except when polite requests for help didn’t go anywhere, I was too disoriented to make a proper stink about it. I was so locked up inside trying to cope with the pain that I couldn’t quite comprehend that I had, or should have had, another option.

          In that one instance, I think screaming like a toddler might have worked out better.

      • CognitiveDissonaceHurts
        April 10, 2014 at 11:06 pm #

        I was also a very quiet labourer.

    • stenvenywrites
      April 10, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

      Yes, that story was Liz P’s, if I recall correctly. Liz also had to order her children out of the living room just before her abruption happened. The teaching hospital where I had my youngest had a “big sibling” program, in which the basics were explained in an age-appropriate way by a nurse, followed by a tour of the hospital’s birthing suites and a view of the nursery. During q & a, all 4 of the 5-9 year olds present asked, “will it hurt?” Answer: yes, but your mom will have doctors and nurses nearby to help make her as comfortable as possible. My daughter’s second question was “when can I hold the baby?” She was given a “big sister” t-shirt and a sticker, which she still has (her old teddy bear is wearing them now.) She packed her own little bag of treats for visiting us in the hospital, with a few things to keep her occupied, a gift for the baby, and a handmade card for me. That, and the honorary first “it’s a baby brother!” phone call, was as involved as we thought she needed to be at 8 years old.

      • AmyP
        April 10, 2014 at 3:46 pm #


        The treat bag sounds great.

  48. Laura
    April 10, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

    I remember after I got my tubes tied with my last delivery, I was put out because the original epidural for my NSVD didn’t take. I struggled to come out of anesthesia and as I was wheeled to the maternity floor my sister asked if she could bring my kids to see me. I said, “NO,” emphatically because I didn’t want my kids to see me in that state of struggling, confused, and feeling crummy. I instinctively knew that they would be afraid and insecure if they saw me incapacitated emotionally. I did eventually see them, but I purposefully waited till I could be present and at least semi-cheerful.

    • Mac Sherbert
      April 10, 2014 at 1:25 pm #

      I didn’t let my parents bring my four year old to my planned csection. I did not think anything would go wrong, but if it it did I didn’t want him there. I remember when it dawned on him the baby would come out of mommy’s tummy. He was so concerned I would be in pain even after my reassurances that docs had special medicine and I wouldn’t feel anything.

      It may have been selfish on my part, but I’m really glad he wasn’t there until later. I was nice to do recovery with just my husband and the new baby. It was nice to get know my new baby without a four year old wanting to hold it, see it, explore the hospital room, climbing on me, fighting for attention with the new baby and demanding his needs be met.

      • stenvenywrites
        April 10, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

        I worried about this incessantly. Every bit of advice I got about how to introduce the older sib to the baby started with, don’t be holding the baby when the older child first sees you — you want to avoid a first impression of being ill or pre-occupied, or let the older child think she’s been usurped. On day of the introduction, I had dh call me from the lobby when he was on his way up, got out of bed, placed the baby very carefully in his bassinet, and waited to greet them while standing upright on my own two feet. She walked right past me and without preamble, petulantly demanded, “WHY aren’t you holding my brother?”

        • Mac Sherbert
          April 10, 2014 at 2:59 pm #

          That’s so funny! Same happened with us. I put the baby in the bassinet thinking my son would want to see me…He walked in and demanded to know where the baby was. He was immediately caught of guard that the baby wasn’t with me! I had him climb onto the bed with me and someone brought us the baby.

      • Guest
        April 10, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

        I didn’t let my kids come to the hospital until it was time to bring the baby home. The first time they saw me post partum I was dressed and showered, bags packed to go home.

      • AmyP
        April 10, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

        My 2.5 year old was such a handful visiting me at the hospital after her baby brother was born. She was all over the place, ate my special granola bars, and ate all the good bits out of my hospital meals. I ultimately sent her and my husband home so I could have some peace with the baby–they had been planning on hanging out with me for hours more.

        That was a learning experience.

        • KarenJJ
          April 10, 2014 at 8:11 pm #

          My 2.5yo got used her elbow to get herself up off the bed – right on my c-section wound (kids don’t seem to realise that the lumps under a sheet on a bed are actually YOU!). owwwww. I could have gone home a day earlier but elected to stay the full 5 days after that episode.

        • FormerPhysicist
          April 10, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

          My kids were just a bit older (4, and then 3 & 7). I bought a special video a few weeks before my due date, and packed in and a DVD player in my hospital bag. The girls cuddled up next to me and watched the dvd they’d been anxious to see, and then went home.

          ETA: I was really happy with the visit, and really happy they went away after 2 hours.

  49. sleuther
    April 10, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

    Well, I still haven’t gotten over “Bambi” (and I’m 41)… but then again, I’d never attend a homebirth. So I guess THAT’S settled.

    • Zornorph
      April 10, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

      It’s The Land Before Time that I can’t handle.

      • expat
        April 10, 2014 at 1:54 pm #

        Pet Cemetary, when Gage got hit by a semi. My friend was laughing at my tears because, “He comes back and kills everyone!” I was 11.

      • April 10, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

        I still have to look away when the Rancor’s trainer cries after the Rancor gets crushed in Return of the Jedi.

        Damn you for making me think of Littlefoot, too 😉

    • KarenJJ
      April 10, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

      Finding Nemo. I never recovered from the trauma of the first 5 minutes…

  50. moto_librarian
    April 10, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

    I guess it depends on the age/maturity of the child. I know that my four year-old would be terrified by watching a birth, and frankly, I don’t see how any child younger than 9 or 10 would be even close to having the maturity to process the experience. I think that my hospital won’t let any child under 6 in the delivery room, and all siblings have to take a class before attending the birth. I also think that if your child has expressed interest in being there, you absolutely must have a support person for that child! If s/he starts getting scared or overwhelmed, there needs to be someone there to take him or her out of the room and provide emotional support. Personally, I wouldn’t want either of my children to see me birthing without an epidural because I scream from the pain, and that is unsettling even for my husband.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      April 10, 2014 at 12:38 pm #

      I guess it depends on the age/maturity of the child

      Yep, that’s going to be the answer, too.

      See, it might not be appropriate for OUR kids, but THEIR kids are far more mature than ours.

      It’s all a result of their great parenting. Just another way that they are all better than us.

      • moto_librarian
        April 10, 2014 at 1:03 pm #

        I have a couple of friends who had older siblings that requested to be at the birth, and they did okay with it. I don’t believe that a child aged four has any real say in the matter though. A four-year old want to please mom and dad, and has no idea of what’s really going to happen. Putting your child in that position is shitty parenting.

        But you’re right, Bofa – we’re probably just not as good as they are.

        • anion
          April 10, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

          Yeah, there is no way to truly explain birth to a four-year old; no matter how detailed you get, they just will not be able to comprehend how intense it will be.

          • Carrie Looney
            April 10, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

            Of course, as someone else mentioned, how many of these are the same people who insist that childbirth is NOT intense if you do it right (as in, they’re better than everyone else, who is doing it wrong)?

            Contractions aren’t contractions, they are “rushes” (no, sorry, they are contractions – one of the freakiest things for me was when my wife was having contractions – I could feel the uterus tightening up (contracting) and I was like, wow, they really ARE contractions; for some reason, I had never made that connections), etc.

          • toni
            April 10, 2014 at 2:37 pm #

            Omg yes! Took me by surprise too that you can actually see your tummy dramatically change shape for a minute

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            April 10, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

            I don’t know how someone else made a comment under my account?

            Me, either. But it was my comment that got your name on it.

          • Carrie Looney
            April 10, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

            Ah, so just a Disqus-fart, then.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            April 10, 2014 at 2:53 pm #

            Either that or I unbeknowingly hacked your account. Fortunately, I am not that talented…

  51. Medwife
    April 10, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    Here you’re proposing your personal values as fact. I’m going to twist a slogan from good old Dr James Dobson: Focus on your own damn family.

    • PrimaryCareDoc
      April 10, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

      I agree with Amy. It’s not appropriate for children to be forced (and they are being forced) to witness their parents in pain. Even if there’s no pain and it’s a wonderful orgasmic birth with dolphins and whale song, there is still blood. A decent amount of it. And a four year old equates blood with injury.

      It’s not fair to the kid. Especially since your average 4 year old is not going to have the capacity to process or verbalize what they’ve just seen.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        April 10, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

        And it’s not just about not seeing them in pain, or naked, it’s that young children are also not responsible for being their parents’ caregivers.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      April 10, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

      What an awesome explanation as to how it is developmentally appropriate for young children to witness childbirth …NOT!

    • Wishful
      April 10, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

      How is saying that a four year old is not developmentally ready to be a caregiver to a parent her personal opinion? That is like saying leaving a four year old to be caregiver to a newborn sibling is a just a “matter of opinion”.

    • Lori
      April 10, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

      It seems discus deleted my comment…
      Anyway, just was saying that I agree with you, even though I don’t disagree with the conversation that a 4 year old is emotionally unprepared to witness a parent giving birth. The level of pearl clutching happening over this seriously benign image is strange to me. There are much more disturbing pictures and videos of kids hanging out while mom screams in pain. There’s several assumptions that had to be made here, like the kid will be sticking around for the entire birth, the mom is screaming in agony in front of her, the kid is being forced to be her labor support, etc.

      • Are you nuts
        April 10, 2014 at 2:09 pm #

        I’m inclined to agree. I would never let a child that young stick around for birth, and if the mom in the picture is screaming and visibly in pain, I wouldn’t want a little one around for that either. But if it’s a fairly serene labor, I think a child applying pressure to mom’s back is closer to “Please get Mommy some water” than “Please dress my surgical wounds.” The kid in the labor tub with mom does give me the heeby jeebies though. Maybe if her water hasn’t broken? I dunno.

        • Laura
          April 10, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

          The fact that the child is in her bathing suit and pushing with all her might seems that this was planned and that this little girl is really exerting effort to help mama out. That does seem different than “getting mommy a drink of water.” I am sure that there are children who will say that witnessing their sibling’s birth was neat-o and great and all good, so I don’t want to discount their voices, too. But how does this decision to have the child in her bathing suit, in the tub, and pushing with all her might reflect on parental attitudes toward this child and their own boundaries? How might this picture be reflective of other parenting practices that might not put the best needs of the child first? I don’t know that it does, but it is something to consider.

      • Renee Martin
        April 10, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

        Its not the pic itself as what it represents.

  52. ModerneTheophanu
    April 10, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    My 5 year old gets upset when I am not feeling well from a cold. I couldn’t imagine subjecting him to seeing me deal with the pain of labor. I couldn’t even let him see me cry from pain when I broke my toe in front of him. My mother had twins when I was 11. I wanted to be present for labor. She wouldn’t let me, and I am in retrospect grateful. Knowing now what I know about birth, I would not have been able to deal with what she was going through, even on the cusp of puberty.

    • Mac Sherbert
      April 10, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

      My son (4) once saw me a get a shot…Actually, it was the pertussis vac at one of my prenatal visits. It worried him to death and he kept trying to doctor my arm. After that, he always wanted to go with me to my appts. to protect me. No way could he have handled seeing me give birth and mere shot freaked him out.

  53. stenvenywrites
    April 10, 2014 at 11:56 am #

    I remember my grandmother telling my mother what a blessing it was to be able to have her babies somewhere she would not have to stifle her screams for the children’s sake. Why she had to mention in this blessing in my (I think) five-year-old presence escapes me. Just imagining my mother in screaming pain disturbed me at the time, and my mother had to reassure me. So judgey-judge-judge: my grandma was insensitive, and the mom in this picture is stupid.

    • anion
      April 10, 2014 at 12:09 pm #

      And that part–the “blessing”–is what always seems to be forgotten by people who espouse this sort of thing by arguing that in indigenous cultures (usually they’re using Native Americans as their example) it was perfectly normal for kids to be in the same room as their parents having sex, or watch their mothers give birth. I personally find it hard to believe that any parents would be happy to have their little ones gathered ’round the bed while they went doggie style, and think that whatever sexing happened was probably done as quietly and discreetly as possible. Yes, society instills its own sense of appropriate vs. inappropriate, but humans have an innate sense of modesty, too; there are cultures where women walk around topless, but those cultures still cover the genitals.

      But the point is, maybe people in one-room structures hundreds of years ago did it out of necessity, but the second people were given the opportunity to have sex/give birth/eliminate bodily waste privately, they jumped at that chance. If no woman ever was traumatized by watching her mother give birth, then no woman ever would have wanted a closed door so her own daughter wouldn’t witness the same thing–the very idea would have been absurd. There has to be a reason people started closing doors or sending the kids to someone else’s house or whatever, and that reason is because they didn’t want their kids to have to watch them.

      Society doesn’t just randomly impose standards; there isn’t one guy standing around forcing everyone to cover themselves. Society as a whole agrees on a standard, and enforces it, and it’s usually because the people of that society find the standard workable or wish said standard had been standard when they were young.

      • April 10, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

        Native Americans, as a matter of fact, used a variety of strategies to maintain social boundaries, one of which was declaring certain categories of female relatives taboo to men, who could not call them by name or even refer to them, but had to use a third person as intermediary. Sexual relations were performed in a discreet manner and others in the same lodge/teepee would deliberately act as if they were unaware, and psychologically probably blocked “taboo” sights.

        It also needs to be remembered that children in Native American societies were exposed to sights we are very remote from: such as animals being butchered for food. Blood was a much commoner sight than for those of us living in the modern urban world. Trying to pretend, in a NY condo, or even out in the woods, that one is a pseudo-Sioux is rather ridiculous.

  54. DaisyGrrl
    April 10, 2014 at 11:46 am #

    One of the things that really bothers me about this photo is that it’s assuming that all will go well with the birth. What if the labour goes on for days? What if the baby gets stuck or the mother hemorrhages or the baby is born blue?

    It’s difficult enough to see a loved one in pain. Placing a four-year-old in this situation that she is not developmentally equipped to handle even if all goes well is not cool. It’s even less cool if something goes wrong and your child witnesses it.

    • April 10, 2014 at 11:48 am #

      It would suck too for the four year old to get pooped on and bled on by her mother. Just sayin.

      • DaisyGrrl
        April 10, 2014 at 11:57 am #

        Well, yeah. The whole thing just sucks. I would have been a wreck if my mom had tried this with me. I hated dirt, pain and blood. Just *hearing* about my birth was enough to put me off the idea of giving birth until I was in my late twenties (18h labour, botched epidural w/ undiagnosed spinal headache, episiotomy that had to be surgically redone months later, forceps delivery). If I had seen either of my younger siblings being born my tubes would have been tied the instant I found a doctor willing to do it.

        • AmyP
          April 10, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

          My 11-year-old daughter has said for a number of years that she does not want to have children and she does not want to get married, seeing as how being married causes children. She decided this after she learned that it hurts to have a baby. She didn’t need to see or hear anything to come to that conclusion.

          I’m hoping she relents in oh, about 15-20 years.

  55. Hannah
    April 10, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    I found this photo disturbing, too.

    I actually always find it disturbing when friends and acquaintances share images involving their small children watching their sibling being born. I am not a prude, I just don’t think children need to see that and they definitely do not need to be active participants in the mother’s ‘care’.

    As a photographer, I can tell you that there are clients who will see this and ‘need’ this image, deciding to put their four year old in the birthing pool in front of the photographer so they too can have that ‘essential’, ‘natural’ image of the birth.

  56. Monica
    April 10, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    When I went into labor with my youngest I had to bring my 3 older children with me to the hospital. My parents live an hour away and I went into labor at the tail end of an ice storm. I needed to get to the hospital or I might have had her at home as in my two previous vaginal deliveries I was pushing within 2 hours of my water being broke. So waiting around for my parents was not an option, so we told them we’d meet them at the hospital. My kids were 12, 9, and 4 at the time. Once we got to the hospital and my contractions started picking up it was quite the struggle to not frighten my children that mommy was in pain. My parents arrived before anything got too intense thankfully and I kicked them all out and just really let it go at that point. It wasn’t look after that my daughter was born either. I couldn’t have imagined them staying there and witnessing that. Definitely not the place for them to be.

    • April 10, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

      We’re expats- I live in the Netherlands and when I was pregnant with my second child, we didn’t have a support network, nor family around. The options were: go to Germany (where I had my first), but 1) I didn’t want to go back there into that hospital because I was so traumatized, and just didn’t want to check if other hospitals were any better), and we’d have to stay with the in-laws- not something I wanted to experience again. 2) Go to Poland, but the care I’d have gotten there would have probably still been worse than the care I got in the Netherlands. 3) Have the baby in the Netherlands, but take her sister with us to the hospital. Which we did. She wasn’t even 2 years old at that moment, she wasn’t even interested in her mom, the machines that went beep were so much more exciting. We hoped she’d sleep through it but obviously she didn’t- the staff even brought a bed for her, but she just wouldn’t sleep. After her sister was born, she just said, “no! No!”- but I think it was more of an rection to that screaming dirty baby. Luckily, it was a quick easy birth that lasted all of 6 hours, and then my husband and my eldest went back home and I stayed the night at the hospital with the baby and came back home the next day, by which time my big girl was in love with her little sister. By the time I had my third, however, we had friends who took care of the girls when I went into labour (although they spend a few hours at daycare and were picked up by our friends). We came back home the same day (the birth lasted 4 hours, was super easy, quick and I got pain relief without any problems), and the girls came back a few hours later. Obviously we wouldn’t have taken her to the hospital if we had other options but we didn’t. And of course we were lucky that everything went well, because it was something I worried about a lot.

      • AmyP
        April 10, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

        My husband had to bring our toddler along with us to the hospital to check me in for our middle child. When we finally got a room, the toddler was bouncing on the birthing ball until it was time for him to drop her off with a sitter.

        Good thing I had a doula.

        • Mishimoo
          April 10, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

          Our eldest grabbed the birthing ball too! She was in Birth Suite with us for a little while because I was being checked for premature labour at 26 weeks with our middle baby, and we’d hurried there so fast that we hadn’t dropped her off with family.

  57. Young CC Prof
    April 10, 2014 at 11:39 am #

    Definitely, definitely. Even back in the day when most people gave birth at home, the other children were sent off to the neighbor!

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      April 10, 2014 at 12:20 pm #

      My aunt tells the story of when my dad was born (82 years ago):

      “It was Holy Saturday night, [mom] came up from the barn
      and told [me] to gather all the Easter candy they had saved and take the other kids upstairs and keep them busy. That night [we] got a new baby brother.”

      My grandma had 13 kids at home. Dad was the 10th, I think. She sent the kids upstairs with their Easter candy. After coming in from the barn (I suspect she was milking)

      • April 10, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

        I love the Anne of Green Gables series. The first several chapters of Anne of Ingleside are all about how her last birth was difficult and how all the older children were being shipped off to family and friends. And how scared everyone was. It’s all in very delicate language and not much is said clearly (heck, in Anne’s House of Dreams, I didn’t even get that she was pregnant the second time until the baby was born, it’s all very discreet and the only thing said was that she was “once again a dreamer of dreams.”).

        • Mishimoo
          April 10, 2014 at 11:12 pm #

          Reading about little Joyce makes me cry every single time.

  58. April 10, 2014 at 11:31 am #

    Amen to that. I find the photo sickening. I remember at that age being horrified when my mother would cry or was sad or sick – to see her in the kind of excruciating agony of birth, even if there had been a good outcome, would have been terrifying! And my own four year old – he’s heartsick and distressed if I whack my funny bone and say “ow!” He’s sensitive to emotion too, and only recently stopped being reduced to tears by *other people* yelling at *other kids*. He would be a wreck witnessing me in labor. It was hard enough for his father to be there.

    In fact, plenty of ADULTS don’t feel comfortable witnessing birth. How awful to force a child – a very young child! – to be there! Not to mention the horrific memories for that child if something went really wrong. Bleeding out wrong, dying baby wrong, dead mother wrong.

    The picture itself is well composed and beautifully shot, but that doesn’t make it ok. It makes it a pretty picture of a bad fucking idea.

    Also, typo – it’s overwhelming, not overweening 🙂

    • anion
      April 10, 2014 at 11:58 am #

      Yeah, my girls get scared and upset if they see me in pain, and require constant reassurance that I’m fine, everything is fine. I can’t imagine deliberately forcing them to watch me in pain for hours on end. While I’m naked.

      BTW, overweening is perfectly legit as used. 🙂

      • The Bofa on the Sofa
        April 10, 2014 at 12:17 pm #

        When my wife or I are hurt, my kids (ages 5 and 3) want to
        a) kiss it, and
        b) put a band-aid on it

        That’s their solution to pain

        • T.
          April 10, 2014 at 1:09 pm #

          In the occasion of birth, this could become seriously awkward.

          • Jocelyn
            April 10, 2014 at 1:16 pm #

            Recently, when my 2 1/2 year old hurt her bum, she wanted me to kiss it.

            I kissed her leg instead, and she was satisfied.

          • April 10, 2014 at 2:50 pm #

            My son once asked me to kiss his scrotum because of diaper rash. I said no but I’d kiss HIM and make him feel better and kissed his face. No biggie to him, but damn awkward for Mom 😉

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            April 10, 2014 at 1:17 pm #

            *Blinks a couple of times*. With some luck they’ll put the bandaid on the belly.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            April 10, 2014 at 1:19 pm #

            I kind of figured that went without saying…

        • Jessica S.
          April 10, 2014 at 10:52 pm #

          Mine would offer a lovie as a solution, but is absolutely horrified if I suggest borrowing one of his. He’s like “uh, get your OWN lovie.”.

      • April 10, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

        You’re right! And I learned a new word today!

        overweening[ oh-ver-wee-ning ]
        1. presumptuously conceited, overconfident, or proud: a brash, insolent, overweening fellow.
        2. exaggerated, excessive, or arrogant: overweening prejudice; overweening pride.

        • Guest-Andrea-K
          April 10, 2014 at 10:44 pm #

          It’s such a good word. I’m tickled to see it used here.

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