With my friend/doula-housemom-sitter!
We hired a professional doula for the births of our youngest two children and she was invaluable, but we knew that we were going to need some additional support on our birth team with all of our children attending. We discussed as a couple what we had in mind and together we knew the women that we would love to have attend our birth - each was someone our children are incredibly comfortable with and love, both had given birth themselves without meds (so they knew what natural birth entailed) and my husband and I considered each of them a close friend to our family. We are incredibly grateful that these sweet women arranged childcare for their own children and sacrificed time on a weekend with their families to come be a part of our birth.
I'm also honored that both women allowed me to attend the births of their youngest babies! So neat...
At my birth these women came in with a wave of energy and love. After several pre-dawn hours of labor, their arrival was such a relief that morning! While my doula stayed close to me providing the much needed support and hands on care, these friends (doula-sitter-housemoms?) were keeping my children entertained, fed and well cared for. They read stories and cuddled and soothed, they answered questions and decorated birth day cupcakes. When it was time to push they talked our children through the experience, assuring them all was well and cheering and holding up our littlest ones so they could see into the tub. Their smiling faces and love helped encourage me through the birth! Afterwards they took the kids out of the room as we got settled, videotaping the excited siblings - I only discovered the adorable footage later! One friend continued to help with our toddler while the other ran to pick up dinner and then help me get settled with a meal before they headed back to their own families.
Our situation is unusual in that we had FIVE older siblings attending and we chose to have two "housemoms" present, but wow - they are amazing! (A housemom is a term I've heard used to refer to a friend attending a birth that provides assistance with children, having a meal for postpartum, getting mom settled back in at home after a birth center or home delivery, etc.) My doula was there caring for me while my children were being well cared for by our sweet friends. If you want to have children present at your birth I highly recommend you have a special care provider for them. By doing so they truly are helping care for you, too!