Photo by Jamie Street
Childbirth is not only the climax of pregnancy; it is also a time of self-transcendence. The experience itself is so powerful that a woman can’t help but have a sense of pride after having gone through it. It is definitely a tremendous emotional and physiologic attainment. For the aforementioned reasons, a woman needs a good support system in order to go through all phases with less worry. Intervention that will make the process more positive is very much welcome; actually, it is encouraged. And having someone by your side during this time is critical, but should kids watch childbirth?
Having your significant other at your side during labor and delivery can be comforting. This, of course, depends on your significant other. For the sake of argument, let’s say your SO is the ultimate partner in the world, the best wing man, he or she is a coxswain on fire, childbirth will definitely be a little bit better, right?
Your significant other is a full-grown person. In terms of cognition, he can handle the whole situation of childbirth better than a child would.
Maybe you want to feed your child’s curiosity about the miracle of birth. Another reason for letting your child be present during childbirth is because you want him/her to feel closer to the baby. Those are very good reasons.
However, childbirth is not a walk in the park experience. It doesn’t come with hearts floating, rainbows, and unicorns. It is painful; and when someone’s in pain, all sense of logic is thrown out of the window. This is why women can act irrationally, even cursing and screaming at times. I even know someone who slapped her husband multiple times. Your child will see you in so much pain, and this can be traumatizing.
Added to that is the physiologic accompaniments of delivery: sudden gush of blood, placental expulsion, even defecation. These are all natural occurrences, but for a child, it is overwhelming.
You might have thoroughly explained everything to your child; you’ve covered all bases, and your explanation even included pictures plus videos of actual childbirth. Theoretical is very different from the actual. There will always be a slight change here and there. Being an RN, I was a witness to the miracle of birth dozens of times, and the thing that I realized is that there will always be some sort of deviation from the norm. Doctors and nurses are prepared to handle whatever comes. We are trained to be objective – to react based on measurable facts to the best of our ability. Your child, being your child, will be on the subjective side of things; meaning, there will be an enormous amount of emotion attached.
Another point to consider is the woman’s psyche. Psyche is the 4th P of labor, and it refers to the psychological state of the woman during this stage. The mom is naturally frightened. Your child will sense this, and he/she will be enveloped by fear as well.
What about a child’s age? Surely there’s an age wherein a child will be able to grasp the process of giving birth. If we’re going to base it on Jean Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development, the thought process of children between 7 to 11 years old (Concrete Operation Stage) becomes more rational. At this stage, the child is starting to have a good sense of logic, but not abstract thinking yet. Of course, not all kids are alike. Some mature faster than others.
At the end of the day, it will always be your call. You know your child better than anyone, so you can very well assess whether he/she is truly ready to witness childbirth. The most important thing is to respect the child’s decision about it.
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