Bri is 6 and Kairi is 3. I prepped them by teaching a children at birth class: watching birth videos, simulating what mommy might do in labor, and learning the anatomy and physiology of labor (sights, sounds, smells, fluids, etc...). Kairi was slightly worried when mommy started yelling at the mw to get her 'hands out of there.. that DOES NOT feel good!' and when I started to pp hemmorhage. But, I had prepared them for the latter chance and my mom simply gave her her cue 'would you like to go hold mommies hand or color Xander a picture until Brenda says mommies done?'
Briaunna, OTOH, wanted to get as close as possible to everything (can I touch the water? What does it smell like, can I feel the cord? Daddy has scrubs on so he doesn't get splashed and that is why he can be so close and I can't? Where can I get some scrubs then? etc...) and was not freaked out or worried about anything.
I think it is VERY important to have a caregiver there for the kids so that they can ask questions to their hearts content. I also believe that childbirth is only not scary for kids if it is done as CLOSE to normalcy as possible (the more monitors, wires, and gadgets involved, the more kids tend to be fearful). It also depends on mom and dad's perception of childbirth. If mom or dad are scared of cb and its process, then the kids will pick up on that. If it is viewed as a normal and natural event, part of life, then the children are much more apt to embrace that same idea.
I think it is vital for our GIRLS to be reintroduced to the idea of childbearing. I think that could be at least, SOME, of what is contributing to the outrageous view of sexuality that our children (girls in particular) have. I think that boys (preteen) can benefit from it as well. But, after they get to that puberty stage, the appropriateness of it is up for debate. Prepuberty, though, is a GREAT time to establish a positive female body image for a young, impressionable boys' mind - one of strength, beauty in fullness (fullness of baby figure - and wholistically), God's plan for woman's body - not world's image, as well as allowing him to learn, and thus, appreciate, the 'final act' of a love relationship between a man and woman, etc... etc....
I know that, for some, I might be a bit on the liberal team when it comes to much of childbirth and childbearing, but it is no wonder that, men who have been witness to their children's births have an easier time bonding with their children and have a fuller appreciation and love for their wives (and acceptance of their wives changing bodies as a result). What if we were able to begin to establish that understanding and heart before they even met their wives or even thought of them? What if they could see their father's model the behaviours FOR them BEFORE they became fathers themselves?
And, as far as little gals go.. childbirth, throughout the ages, has always been a woman's affair - with only the father, and then only in some cultures, present. When a woman began laboring, the most seasoned and knowledgable women would come to 'deliver her' of the child (midwife), the newest mothers and THE mother of the laboring woman would come to serve her and help her (doula), and the young women of childbearing years were invited to cook, clean, and observe (protige). Finally, young girls, either siblings of the new baby or young girls of the family and friends that were there, were sent on errands, given misc. duties, and made to be a part of the celebration. Childbirth was an EVENT, and a time for learning. It brought women close and taught trust in the birth process, our bodies, and the act of life-giving (marriage, sexuality, and childbearing). It was natural, normal, and viewed as such. It was never viewed as a 'condition' or given the sense of shame and secrecy that it was given in the 1800's and early 1900's and sometimes even carries over to today.
It has only been in recent years (the last 100 or so) that we have lost that generational bonding that was so intrinsic and necessary for a young woman's 'initiation' into motherhood. Is it any doubt that so many of our young girls see their bodies as 2-D sexual images? They are missing the most vital component - life-giving and life-bringing - the cusp of a sexual relationship between a husband and a wife. Is it any doubt that so many of us go into our childbearing years FEARING childbirth and its unknowns? We have lost the sense of natural/normal that it is - we have lost trust in our bodies, the act of bringing forth children from our wombs, and the inherent knowledge of the process. That is why there are so many 'methods' of childbearing out there now - we are compensating for what has been lost... so we make up methods of childbearing (Bradley, Hypnobirthing, Lamaze, Medicated, etc...) to help us understand and cope with this 'thing that happens sometime between marriage and retirement'.
It was no surprise to me when Bri began crying when Xander was born - 'He's here! He's here!!' - a 6 year old was embodying the sense of awe and trust that we have lost as a culture. It was no surprise to me when she was given a job (cutting the cord) that she felt an inclusion, not a repulsion, to the process of childbearing and said 'Now I KNOW I want to be a doctor' (now I just need to hone that to say 'midwife' - lol). It was no surprise to me that my 3 year old says she wants to have 'twenty babies' when she grows up and, if anyone asks her what the birth was like, she wipes her brow and says 'hard work'. What if all of our little girls learn these valuable lessons? What if our young boys can appreciate these too? What if we reclaim that passion, belief, trust, and awe that our ancestors understood? What would the impact of that be on, not only our children, but on our culture? Would there be less child abuse? Would there be fewer dead-beat dads? Would there be more traditional family values and less teen pregnancies? I don't know... it would be neat to see though.... OK... I am going to stop now.