My 4 Year Old in the Delivery Room?

Updated on February 03, 2008
J.E. asks from Las Vegas, NV
14 answers

I am 9 months pregnant and I am due to go in to labor any time now. My 4 ½ year old daughter has asked to watch the baby be born. I know she can handle it because ever since she was 1 years old I have been in school to study nursing, and she likes watching the delivery shows on TV. She is very smart for her age and very interested in all that is going on. My husband and I moved her almost 2 years ago and we don’t have many friends that would be available at the drop of a hat to watcher her if I do go into labor unexpectedly. My question is if my husband and I do decide to have her in the delivery room how do we keep her involved and out of the way. Also my husband works nights so if it is a long labor (because we never know how it will turn out) and my husband gets tired he gets cranky! I wont have the energy to referee them when they start to fight because they get at each other when they are both tired. Suggestions anyone?

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answers from Phoenix on

I'd say let her in the room if you think she can handle it since she requested it. But only if you think you'll be under control and not screaming or crying. That would be very frightening for a young child. And I personally wouldn't want my child there the whole time and have to take care of their needs. Can someone bring her towards the end? I get so exhausted and I wouldn't want to have to worry about caring for my child while I'm in pain and labor. I was fascinated (still am!) by the human body and how it works. I remember as a kid watching a video from conception to birth and it showed the baby coming out of the woman's vagina and I wasn't traumatized. I was completely intrigued by the whole process.

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answers from Albany on

Hire a Doula, maybe two--one for you and one for your daughter

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answers from Fort Collins on

I have 3 children, and had my two oldest in the labor room with me when I delivered. At the time my son was 5 years old and my daughter was almost 3 years old. They did great, and I felt they bonded with the baby more that way. I wanted them to be apart of everything, so they even gave the baby her first bath at the hospital!
I did make sure the hospital would allow us to bring them, and kinda surprised my doctor, because I knew she would be against it. I did have a back up person, just in case of an emergency, like a c-section. I also had to be willing to deliver without my husband in the room, if the kids had a melt down, but they did great!
I decided to buy gifts for the kids to open in the delivery room, while we waited. I brought playdough, crayons, paper, the best snacks, and even candy. Anything in the world to keep them entertained. They watched tv, and took a couple trips around the hospital. When it was time to deliver, my husband held my 2.5 year old and she watch the baby be born. My son didn't want to watch so he sat on the couch and played with his toys. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way, I'm so glad I had them in the delivery room. The nurses and doctors were a little nervous about having them there, but it's hard to argue with a pregnant lady. I really think it should be a mother's decision on who she wants in the delivery room, after all she's the one who is doing all the work and it made me more relaxed to have my family in there. Good luck, I hope all goes well!


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answers from Tucson on

My cousin had her oldest (then 5) in the delivery room when her daughter was born. The delivery was fairly smooth--no stitches, no trauma, no yelling or cursing (not that any of us do that, right? ;)

She sait it was OK but her daughter has decided not to have kids, ever, because it was so gross. may want to keep that in mind.

I would say hire a doula if you want to have her in the delivery room. If you're uncomfortable with that, call a babysitting service and explain the situation. Most places will agree to have someone "on call" for you.

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answers from Tucson on

I am a neonatal nurse & have been present for countless deliveries. 4 is definitely too young to be the delivery room with you. I don't doubt that she could handle it - as I'm sure you have prepared her very well for what to expect. The thing about labor & delivery is that there is always a chance that something could go wrong. What would happen if for some reason you needed an emergency c-section? Where would she go...what would she do...? It's important for you to be able to focus on the task at hand, labor. It's also important for you to know that your daughter is being well cared for. I see no reason not to have her there at the hospital with you - just have someone take her out of the room & make a picture for the new baby while you are actually pushing. Since she wants to be involved, come up with a special task that only she can do for you while she's not in the room with you. That way, she won't feel neglected & she will still feel as if she is part of the whole process. God Bless!



answers from Santa Fe on

i think, if she wants to be there and you are confident that she can handle it, let her in.

obviously, it would be great if there could be some family member there to go with her if she decides she wants to leave, but that sounds not possible. so i think the doula suggestion is a great one. but make sure you are clear with the doula that if your daughter needs to leave, your daughter is her priority. the doula is typically there to support you and your spouse, that's why i suggest talking to her specifically about your daughter.

also, it wouldn't hurt to bring entertainment for her. i don't know about you, but my labors are long and booooring. a whole lot of hurry up and wait, esp if you aren't the one doing the work. bring a dvd player, coloring books, anything else that she can play with independently. bring her pillow and a blanket (and even a cot) in case she gets tired and wants to stay in the room with you. look into whether there is a park nearby or even on the hospital grounds. or a playroom in the hospital. so that she (with either the doula or your dh) can seek some diversion as needed. remember, hospitals can be boring for kids after a while. (they can be for adults, too. my dh and father will probably bring the xbox again!)

as for where she should be or how she can help, i suggest telling her that you need her help holding a leg or even holding your hand (though that seems less likely considering you'll probably need that hand for something along the way). something to keep her busy when you are pushing. my dad, when i was in labor with my first, chose to be at the head of the bed. he was there, but wasn't in the middle of it. even something at the side of the bed would be ok, but might be starting to get in the way of the nurses and such.

as for your dh. talk to him seriously about it beforehand. tell him that despite how tired he might be he needs to be there for both of you. he needs to be the bigger person, the father, and the husband. you can't do it all, he needs to help. sometimes appealing to his sense of "mr. fix it" or knowing that you need him will be enough to help him overcome his crankiness. and if needed, you might work out a signal ahead of time with him that tells him he needs to reign it in without getting into an argument in the delivery room.

it might also be a good thing to talk to your nurses and even your doctor. they will probably discourage her attendance, but you never know. one or more of the nurses might have some good ideas for ways she can help during the worst of it. it is worth a shot.

personally, i have a 3.5 year old. he'll be almost 4 by the time the baby comes. i want him there. we are making a family, and i don't feel like it will be complete or right without him at least nearby. we live 40 miles from the hospital we will be delivering in, so it isn't like home is right down the street. if we get to our due date, we will be induced in the hospital--that's the plan. but also, if we get to our due date, my parents should be here for the delivery and my dad has been given the task of keeping nate company and busy.

our ultimate goal, however, is a home birth. it is what i have planned with both of the boys and what we want with this pregnancy, too. if we go into labor before our due date we will be delivering at home. and that would be the best for everyone. nate can be at home, with his own toys and his own bed. but he won't have to be in the same room if he doesn't want to be. he can control how much he sees and is around for, so he won't get overwhelmed. hopefully. a hospital birth complicates it for us a bit because of our desire to have nate close by but not necessarily in the room. after 9 mos of prenatal appointments and numerous ultrasounds, i don't want him to miss the "big event" if he doesn't want to.

besides that i don't think keeping labor and delivery or birth a secret from kids is a good thing to do. no judgement for those who keep their kids out of the delivery room. none. but birth, just like death should not be a kept a secret. both are a part of life. but everyone has to decide what is best for their own kids.

hope this helps. good luck.



answers from Phoenix on

Well I personally don't think its a good idea. Your hubby will have to be the one to care for you which may take way from what support you need. Maybe if there was a extra person to help it would work but when you are in labor how can you referee?? I honestly think my kids could handle it too. I am 31 weeks with baby 3 and have a 3 and 4 yr old. But I need my SO to focus on me and not struggle with the kids. They may get tired or hungry or just bored.



answers from Sacramento on

Hi there,

My name is D. and I am the mother of six. I have been in the delivery room of seven others besides my own and would be willing to help out at the drop of a hat if you need me. I think if your daughter wants to be there and you think she can handle it, more power to you. Having someone there such as myself who can take her out of the room for breaks or to referee as you put it would be helpful. If you have some one who can do that already, great! If not, please feel free to call me. My cell # is ###-###-####



answers from Phoenix on

I would let her, but have family close who can take her out if need be. I would just do a lot of taking to her in advance about what she will see and how she needs to act. If she doesn't behave, she leaves, period. I had a friend whose child wanted in, and she didn't let him, then he resented it. I can always watch her, if need be. I know you don't know me, but I thought I'd throw it out there. I live at 35th AVe. and Happy Valley.



answers from Denver on

You know my personal take is she is WAY TOO YOUNG to be in that delivery room. There are so many things to factor in, her seeing you in pain, then the fact that mom may be struggling, if something goes wrong. She may see everything completely different when it is YOU there. The blood alone can cause her a great deal of distress as seeing it in person and it coming from you. My daughter loves the delivery shows and is interested but I know for a FACT it would be a lot different if it is was her mommy in that position. Four is very young!!!!!!!!!! I am telling you, find someone else to watch her for that period you are delivering and maybe just have her there right after. My kids freaked on the video of their birth just watching me in labor and seeing me in pain.



answers from Las Vegas on

I would not allow her in the delivery room.
I am 33 weeks pregnant, and I have a 7 year old and a 3 1/2 year old. I would not allow either one of my daughters in the delivery room. The amount of blood that is involved could traumatize her alone; and if any emergencies came up with the baby or you could be horrifying for her to see.
I dont think watching delivery shows on TV is as realistic as the real thing. Most parts of the labor and delivery is edited down to a 1/2 hour of programing.
We are new to the area, been here 6 months. Moved here not knowing anyone, and only know a few people, no body very well. If I had to choose, I would prefer that my husband stay home with the children , and come up to the hospital when all is complete, and the children can come up and meet the new baby. I wish you the best. God Bless. Heidi



answers from Denver on

It seems to me that 4 is too young. Let's face it, there are adults who are traumatized by seeing birth live with someone they love even after seeing the videos. I wouldn't chance it. Have someone video tape it and let her see it later. If she still wants to be there live, maybe think about it with the next one. If I were near you, I'd be more than happy to take you daughter to help you out. I'm sure there is someone that is near you who would love to help for such a wonderful occassion. Have you thought about an adoptive grandparent in the area? Even a trusted neighbor? Just some thoughts.



answers from Phoenix on

Unfortunately I live in Phoenix and you in Las Vegas so i can't help personally, but I would check with some local sitter services and see if they can have someone on call for an oveernight type thing if needed. I personally think four is too young to be there. If you have her there during labor, after you get an epidural, she could probably handle visiting, but I would not allow her to see you in pain or delivering.

Good luck to you!



answers from Las Vegas on

Hi J.! Whatever you decide, you might want to check with the hospital first. The only reason I mention this is because I too am due any day now and I took my 2 1/2 yr old with me on the hospital tour. When the nurses saw her with me, they made it crystal clear that she wasn't allowed in the delivery room during birth. I actually don't want my daughter in the room, but I feel that it is a personal decision and it is not up to the hospital to make that for me. So, with that said, if you and your daughter are ok with that decision, please double check with the hospital before you bring her. That would be a headache you don't need during your labor! Also, hiring a doula might be a good solution so that your husband and daughter can take breaks as needed and you'll still have someone tending to your needs. Good Luck!

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