Posted: Mar 03, 2013 10:00 PM
 
You may be thinking about having a doula to help you during labor, but what about your older child? If your child will be present during labor and birth, she'll benefit from a doula's TLC, too. More than a babysitter and different from a family member, a sibling doula may be just who you need to help your older child keep calm and confident before welcoming her baby brother or sister.

A birth doula provides physical emotional and informational support to moms during pregnancy, labor, birth and the early postpartum period. But do you know your older child can benefit from doula care, too?

If you plan to have your older child present during labor and even delivery, it's crucial he has an adult who is there just for him. A sibling doula can entertain your child while you're in labor and reassure him that you're okay when he sees or hears you having contractions. If you change your mind and decide not to have your child present throughout labor, a sibling doula will ease your mind so you don't need to worry if your child is okay.

Where can I find a sibling doula?

Check with birth and postpartum doulas in your community — they may also offer sibling doula services. Just like a doula for moms who will meet with you at least once before your due date to get to know your wishes for labor and birth, a sibling doula will get to know your child. Since she also knows about the normal process of labor and delivery, she can be particularly reassuring to an older child who may have questions or even be scared.

Eleven years later Jenna and my older son still remember reading books and watching a video together before she brought him into my bedroom to meet his little brother.

You may also have a friend who already knows your child well (and whom you can count on to be there at 2 a.m. if needed!)

I planned a homebirth with my second baby, and planned to have my then 3-1/2 year old son in the room for the birth of his brother. What I didn't plan was having a very fast and painful labor. Knowing his doula, my dear friend Jenna, was there to reassure him I was okay (let's just say I was quite vocal during contractions) was the best feeling ever. Eleven years later Jenna and my older son still remember reading books and watching a video together before she brought him into my bedroom to meet his little brother.

Can't I just have a family member there for my child?

Of course. However, a family member may have a hard time seeing you in pain during labor. Even if they are focused on the sibling or not in the same room, they'll still be able to hear you and want to make sure you're okay — a caring gesture for sure, but one that takes the focus away from the sibling.

Having a sibling doula means someone is there solely for your older child — an ideal way to ease your mind, and his.

Read more about doulas and delivery

Should your parents be in the delivery room?
Pick the perfect doula
Planning a home birth: How to involve your older kids without traumatizing them for life

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Amy Vowles February 27, 2013
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Great idea! I totally want a sibling doula whenever we have another baby. I didn't know what they were called until reading this article!
Galit Breen February 23, 2013
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This is such a lovely, thoughtful thing to think about! Love!