Resources for Preparing Siblings for Baby

by Kate Saumweber Hogan, CPM, LM

*Update: I have been offering this class every few months. Please email me if you would like to join my next class or if you would like to schedule a private class and I will get you the details. (Next class is 9/16/2017, register here: http://bit.ly/Sept16PreparingSiblings)

I had an amazing time offering a presenting “Preparing Siblings for Birth” at the Twin Cities Birth & Baby Expo on Saturday. We are so lucky to have such a wonderful birth community here in our area, and getting to have everyone in one spot for a few hours is quite a treat.

Brother Love!

Brother Love!

I loved getting to discuss this topic with families and offer some tips and tricks for making the process of pregnancy, birth, and postpartum time easier on older siblings. I promised to share the resources we discussed here on the TCM Blog for future reference (and Twin Cities Midwifery clients are welcome to borrow them, as they are all part of my lending library). If you are reading this and feel like there are any that I’ve missed, please let me know!

by Megan Crown Photography

by Megan Crown Photography

Prenatal Involvement and Development:

Getting Ready to Be a Big Sibling (what to expect life will be like once baby arrives):

by Megan Crown Photography

by Megan Crown Photography

Getting Ready to Attend the Birth!

A big brother at his baby sister's birth!.

A big brother at his baby sister’s birth!.

Books for older children, about birth and other various aspects of bodies and sexuality:

Sibling Rivalry:

  • While we don’t have these in our library, here is a great list to review if you are looking for sibling books as kids get older.
  • Here are additional ideas to make this transition smoother, which includes a suggested book list at the end.

Videos:

I hope to offer the class again in years to come! If you are looking for additional information, other than just the resources above, or if you would like me to present the full class, please feel free to contact me (MidwifeKate@TwinCitiesMidwifery.com)!

Phila-3

by Megan Crown Photography

Groups for Dads and Partners

I know many moms, doulas, educators, and friends who have enjoyed TCM’s blog post: Moms Groups Around Town. But lately people have been asking about groups for dads and partners.

Many of the groups in the Moms Groups list are also open to partners, but here are some groups that are tailored just for partners and dads. Please let me know if you are aware of others!

On Friday evenings, Enlightened Mama hosts a Friday Night Happy Hour which happens on a rotation. Depending on which week of the month it is, you’ll find a different group there. The rotation is as follows: 1st Friday Mamas, 2nd Friday Dads, 3rd Friday GLBTQ Families, 4th Friday Couples.

ECFE (Early Childhood Family Education) also offers classes just for dads and partners. Check with your local school district to learn more. Here is more information on the Minneapolis and St Paul classes. Minneapolis has classes for specific populations, including: Daytime Dads and GLBT Families. Other districts may also have similar classes.

Minnesota Dads at Home has various play groups, dads nights out, online discussions, and other activities geared toward stay-at-home dads.

The Queer Birth Project offers an expecting and new parent group on the 2nd Saturdays of each month at the Walker Community Church (3104 16th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55407) from 10:00 am to 11:30 am. This is a donation-based community event for LGBTQIA families with little ones ages 0-3, as well as expectant and trying families looking to build community! Each month there will be a local speaker or topic for discussion, but the purpose of the event is to socialize, build community, and find support from other queer and trans families.

Free Parent-Infant Class: In this class, children play and explore in an environment created to support their development of language, movement, and independence. They are supported by their parents and Montessori Guides. Parents share and learn together, interact with and observe their children, and discuss topics of child development and parenting. The class is held at Lake Country School in south Minneapolis. More information, class dates and registration can be found at http://lakecountryschool.org/parent-infant-class.

Birth & Soul LLC offers a Father Support Group the first Sunday of every month from 11am-12pm. It’s by Tim Neumann, M.A. of Minneapolis Support & Fatherhood Science. This is an opportunity for fathers to learn more about and discuss issues related to fatherhood including fears about their birth participation, couple conflict, stress management, child development, and their experiences during the birth.

Partner Involvement

by Anna Bartels, TCM apprentice

It is not uncommon for partners and spouses to feel “left-out” during pregnancy and labor.  During the preparation for birth and beyond, with prenatal appointments and baby showers, there is often an unintentional lack of focus on involving a partner.  Many men have reported receiving most of the information on pregnancy and birth secondhand from their partners.  One survey of over 800 fathers found that one-third respondents reported needing more information on coping and pain relief strategies to utilize with their partner during labor.  Involving the partner as an integral part of the entire process can have very positive outcomes for both the pregnant mother, her partner, and the child, including better relationships between partners and spouses, more comfortable and trusting birthing experiences, and positive impacts on the relationships between partners and children.

Today, most birth preparation classes talk about a connection between tension and/or fear and pain during the birth process, called the “fear-tension-pain” cycle by Grantly Dick-Read, the author of  “Childbirth Without Fear.”  Pregnancy and birth can be a source of high levels of stress and fear for partners, as well, and some birth professionals posit that “although a man cannot feel  the same pain as the laboring woman…many men experience a similar cycle of emotions in the birthing place (Hazard, 2010).”   This cycle, experienced by a partner, can influence the energy of a pregnancy or birth process and  a plan for involving partners in the birth process can help to assuage the effects of this cycle.  Create the space for an open dialogue about what the laboring mother will want from her partner during birth and also what questions or needs the partner may have.  Partners and spouses who are well-prepared for pregnancy and birth report fewer fears of seeing their partners in pain and report more positive birth experiences overall.

Here at Twin Cities Midwifery, we want all partners to get the information they need and to feel like an integral part of the birth process.  We encourage partner involvement, and we enjoy getting to know partners during prenatal visits so that we can best support partners, as well as laboring mothers, during the labor, birth, and postpartum time. Below are some great ways for partners to be an important part of pregnancy, birth and postpartum.

Prenatally
Attend prenatal appointments- we love having partners around, to share their perspectives and to answer any questions they may have.
Attend birthing classes together- we are happy to recommend some options
Go to a prenatal massage and ask for instruction on massage techniques
Encourage open communication- ask questions, share your feelings and concerns.  Assess what your particular sources of stress may be and work on ways to address them
Write a birth plan together- what things are important to BOTH of you?
Read some homebirth stories from a fathers perspective: http://www.homebirth.org.uk/blokes.htm

During labor and birth
Help set up needed supplies
Call and communicate with your midwife
Put to use those massage techniques you learned
Communicate openly with the birth team
Consider helping catch the baby

Postpartum
Advocate for the new mother- what does she need? What does baby need?
Arrange for people to cook, clean, provide childcare or take your pets out
Advocate for alone time with your partner and your baby
Create space for breastfeeding – whether at home or away
Revel in your baby- skin-to-skin contact- get to know your new little one!

As a partner, your role is not to be an all-knowing individual in the room.  Take the time to self-reflect about what some of your stressors are related to an upcoming birth experience.  What questions do you need to have answered before the birth and what does the laboring mama need from you.  The laboring woman’s partner most important role is that of a lover.  There isn’t a need for classes or books to teach this role, it is something that a partner does every day.  “Just be yourself. Just love your partner. It’s you she wants at the birth, not someone else’s idea of a labor coach. You.” (2010).

Resources

Books:

Father’s Homebirth Handbook: http://www.amazon.com/Fathers-Home-Birth-Handbook/dp/190517750X

A Dad’s Journey into Homebith: http://www.indiebirth.com/downloads/dadhomebirthjourneysample.pdf

The Birth Partner: http://www.amazon.com/The-Birth-Partner-Third-Edition/dp/1558323570

Websites:

Fathers and Homebirth: http://www.homebirth.org.uk/blokes.htm

Sources

Hazard, Leah.  (2010) Beyond Fear, Tension, and Panic: Helping Men Enjoy the Birth Experience.  Midwifery Today  95(Autumn)

Singh D, Newburn M (2000) Becoming a father: men’s access to information and support about pregnancy, birth, and life with a new baby London: National Childbirth Trust

Wilson, Lois (1999)  It’s You She Wants. Midwifery Today 51(Autumn)

Wockel-A, Schafer-E, Beggel-A, et al. (2007) Getting ready for birth: impending fatherhood. British Journal of Midwifery 15(6) 344-8.