Friday, October 7, 2016

Preparing Big Sister Audrey for Birth and Baby

We are planning on having Audrey present during the actual birth of her little brother or sister and have been preparing her for that experience. It may not work out (she may decide she doesn't want to be in the room at the time, for instance) so we are being flexible about it. But we are hoping and planning for her to be there.

We have also been preparing her for her role as big sister and life after the baby is here. It will certainly be quite an adjustment (for everyone!) and will take some time and patience for us to find our "new normal" as a family of four.

Preparation for Birth

Audrey has known about my pregnancy since early in first trimester. I was too excited not to share it with her! She actually helped share the news with all her grandparents. Every few weeks during pregnancy we talk about how the baby is developing and I show her pictures from a pregnancy app or the book A Child is Born, which has actual pictures of babies in utero.

She loves this page and talks about how the baby is playing with his umbilical cord

One thing Audrey and I have enjoyed doing since before I was pregnant is watching homebirth videos. She really likes these, especially the ones with big brothers or sisters! I explain in simple terms about the "mommy working really hard to get her baby out" and that it takes a long time. If the woman is vocalizing we talk about how being noisy can help the baby come out. During the actual birth part I talk about the baby's head coming out first and that there can be a lot of "water" and blood (but the mommy and baby aren't hurt). She knows that babies grow in the uterus and come out of the vagina. (She's actually corrected people who ask if there's a baby in my "belly!") And then we see the baby's body born and I point out the umbilical cord. Later we discuss the placenta (if shown) and the baby getting "nursies" or breastfeeding. Some videos show the older siblings holding the baby and she loves that part!

A big part of her preparation for the birth has been me practicing being in labor! The last few weeks we've pretended mommy is having contractions and I will go in various positions, such as sitting on the birth ball or leaning over the counter. I remind her before the contraction starts that I will be focusing and can't talk to her for a minute. The "contraction" lasts 30 seconds or so and I will usually vocalize during them. She isn't always able to let me go through the contraction without talking or trying to climb up on me, but I just remind her. And that is one reason we are having our good friend be our "sibling doula!" A sibling doula is a doula for the older siblings and will take care of Audrey during labor and birth so Ryan can focus on me. Our sibling doula will also explain what's happening, answer Audrey's questions, etc. And she's going to prepare my placenta for smoothies after birth, but that's a topic for another post!

We've been reading this book too! It's not perfect but was the best one I could find about homebirth for children. There's a few home water birth books but I didn't like the illustrations or how the midwives were so hands on. This book focuses more on the family and the midwife is in the background (which is how our midwife practices).

 This is my favorite page. :)

Preparation for the Baby

I talk about how babies needs lots of "nursies," they sleep a lot at first, and cry sometimes. We've talked about how mommy will be in bed for many days after the baby is here and she and the baby will need to sleep during the day. She knows about wearing babies and bed sharing - she sleeps in the master bedroom on her own mattress.

This book has been a great resource and is geared towards natural parenting practices, such as breastfeeding, co sleeping, and baby wearing. Most conventional books for older siblings depict bottle feeding, separate sleeping, and baby in what I refer to as "containers."

One really big project this pregnancy has been making Audrey a "busy box" for every day of the week. These are boxes that contain many different learning activities that she can mostly do on her own, although I'm sure she will want adult interaction with them sometimes! I'm planning on utilizing these all throughout the coming months as part of her preschool-at-home education. Some of them I made and some I bought. Here are my favorites:

Various puzzles and matching

Literacy: putting a story in order and telling it, letter matching, name writing practice (that's a laminated tracing sheet with her name)

Felt activities: make a pizza, make a snowman, play yard for small animals. And build a pen for a dinosaur using popsicle sticks

Lacing - fine motor skill practice

Math: patterns, match the numbers, match the shapes

One box with a variety of activities for every day of the week!

Next week I will be writing a post about my prenatal care, which looks very different from conventional prenatal care. (Think less technology, more hands on skills)

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