pregnancy

Would you do a Jamie and Jools Oliver and let your kids watch you give birth?

As we gushed over the adorable new addition to the clan of Jamie and Jools Oliver there was one small detail that was overlooked while delighting in the adorable chef and his baby son.

It was the revelation that, according to Jamie Oliver and his wife Jools, there alongside Jools as she expelled bodily fluids and screamed blue murder was not just Jamie and a midwife or two but the entire Oliver clan.

Yes, their four older children, Poppy Honey, 14, Daisy Boo, 13, Petal Blossom, 7 and Buddy Bear, 5, were all present at the birth.

Daisy and Poppy even cut the umbilical cord.

The very family affair has prompted a debate about whether or not kids really belong in the delivery room.

After all, as one online commentor put it “the delivery suite isn’t a playground.”

Many though claim there are ‘benefits’ in letting siblings be present. They say it promotes bonding with the baby, allows them to be involved and helps them understand the birthing process – blood, membranes, delivery room faeces and all.

Oliver's older children even cut the cord. Image via Stock.

Personally I’m not sure my young children need to understand that much about the birthing process and I can’t see the harm in them bonding shortly afterward in a different room - but I respect those who make this decision for their family.

Birth, to me, is about the mother – if the mother could relax with her older children in the delivery room and not be preoccupied with how they were faring then turning a birth into family time may be a wonderful experience.

As far as research into how common the practise is, there's not a lot around. An American survey of 69 hospitals in the United States, published in the American Journal of Maternal Child Nursing in 2009, found that just 22 percent allowed siblings to observe vaginal births.

There has however been a study on how siblings coped with the experience. A paper published by the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry evaluated families who wanted their children to attend the birth of a sibling.

A child psychiatrist found that mothers were more enthusiastic about sibling attendance than other family members, and that children reported more anxiety about the experience than was recognised by their parents.

Here is a nice place for siblings to wait. Right? Image via IStock.

Child and family psychologist Dr Mair Edwards told the BBC what it mainly depends upon is what kind of delivery it is.

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"If the birth is going well and everything is going to plan then it can be a fantastic experience," she says.

"The problem is if it isn't a smooth birth there can be panic and that can be really traumatic. Some fathers say they can be quite traumatised by the sight of their partner in labour."

"As a mum you've also got to be comfortable with people watching you. It's a very personal choice."

Dr Rob Olson, a Bellingham, founding president of the American Society of OB/GYN Hospitalists told Today that having a small crowd in the delivery room can be not just hard for the doctor, trying to actually, you know, deliver a baby, but could be tough on the laboring woman who felt like she had to entertain “guests” instead of focusing on herself.

❤️❤️ A photo posted by Jools Oliver (@joolsoliver) on Aug 7, 2016 at 6:21am PDT

What it comes down to a lot of the time is the individual child themselves, their age and maturity.

One mum, who had her older child in the room, tells in an online discussion of how her two-year-old had a tantrum over wanting her mummy to hold her just as her baby brother made his entrance to the world. Dad had to take the fist-pumping, foot-stamping two-year-old from the room and mum’s screams were overshadowed by that of a demanding toddler yelling out “I WANT MUMMY NOW.”

 What did you think while giving birth? Post continues after gallery..

The big thing every expert says is that if you are planning on having your older kids in the delivery room make sure they are prepared. Watch videos with them, show them those birthing photos that Facebook keeps banning, read “What to expect” together at bedtime.

They need to know what the pain is about and how much blood (and well, the other stuff) to expect.

I can’t see the harm in them bonding shortly after in a room filled with white sheets and flowers . Image via Stock.

Here’s how I see it: You know those online birth videos that you find hard to watch? The ones you cringe a little at and turn away from the screen?

Well if you can’t imagine watching them with your kids then you probably can’t handle having them at the birth.

If your dinner time conversations are all “placenta” “and “birth canal” and “episiotomy” then having the kids in as spectators might just work you.

Did you know Mamamia has a parenting podcast? Join Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo as they discuss the glorious mess that is family life.

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