What is a Sibling Doula?
The first time you heard the word ‘doula’ you may have thought to yourself, “What is that?” And a similar question may have popped into your head upon hearing the term ‘Sibling Doula.’
We know that a doula is someone who provides emotional, physical and mental support to the laboring person and their birthing partner. A doula will meet with you and your birth partner before baby arrives to discuss options for labor and birthing, address any questions or concerns you may have, supplement education regarding childbirth, breastfeeding, comfort measures during labor, etc. A doula will support you and your birth partner throughout labor and birthing: suggest comfort measures, reassure you of your abilities, support your birth preferences and choices, and hold your space. A doula will oftentimes meet with you after your baby has arrived. How you are feeling physically, emotionally and mentally now that you have a new baby is important to your doula. Your doula has resources in her pocket to help foster your emotional and physical well-being.
But what about the big brother or sister to be?
Siblings are invited to be a part of their new baby siblings birth more often than many people realize. But when all of the focus is on mom, who is there to offer support and reassurance to them? Many families feel birth is a normal right of passage, and the whole family is there to celebrate. Some families have no one nearby to invite into their birth experience and care for the older children. Sometimes, families simply have no childcare, and may not necessarily plan for their older children to be present at the birth. Enter the sibling doula!
Much like “regular” doulas, a sibling doula will meet with parents and any siblings attending the birth prenatally. This is a great opportunity for everyone to get on the same page. Expectations for care and support can vary depending on the age range of the siblings attending the birth. Obviously, a toddler will need more one-on-one care than a middle or high school aged child. Using agreed upon verbiage, and age- appropriate information, sibling doulas can supplement any childbirth education covered by the parents to reassure older siblings that everything happening in the birth space is normal. If something is not “normal,” a sibling doula can help your child better understand the why and how of what is taking place, as well as any possible outcomes. Sibling doulas ensure that no one gets left behind or left out in the flurry of excitement that comes with each birth. And just like your birth doula, your sibling doula is there to remind your children to use the bathroom, have a drink of water, and will make sure their bodies are nourished and well taken care of. A doula for everyone!
A sibling doula can also schedule a postpartum visit to help older siblings process their birth experience and check in with them on how they are adjusting to life with a new baby. How your child feels about their new sibling, how they view themselves in their new role as a big brother or sister, and how they feel valued in your family as you all adjust to your new “normal” is important to your sibling doula.
Sibling doulas are a valuable asset to any birth team. If you are considering inviting your children to attend your birth or have children who have already requested to attend the birth of their new sibling, a sibling doula is a great way to ensure your children are supported, informed, and cared for.
The belief in support for every member of the family, at any age.
A Doula for Everyone!
The birth of a new baby is also the birth of a new family.
Whether it’s your first child or your fifth, we will be there to nurture your hearts as they grow a little fuller, one baby step at a time.