A mum who gave birth with the help of her daughter says having her child by her side was a “no-brainer” — but not everyone agrees.
A mum who gave birth to her second child with the help of her young daughter says she has since been called out for “child abuse”.
Ariel Haynes, a birth photographer from the US, said her then two-year-old was thrilled when she told her she was pregnant and asked if she could take part in the birth.
“I’ve been a birth photographer myself for three years, and every time I went off to take photos my daughter begged to come along with me,” Ms Haynes said.
“As soon as I told her she was going to have a brother or sister she asked if she could be there.
“It wasn’t something I even had to think about – it was a no-brainer that she would be there.”
Ms Haynes said she checked with her midwife who thought it was a great idea, and her husband Thomas was on-board too.
As she neared her due date, the expectant mum booked a birth photographer and started preparing her daughter for the big day.
“I told her that I was probably going to yell in pain and that there would be blood, but she wasn’t fazed at all,” Ms Haynes said.
I also talked her through what she could do to help me while I was in labour, like rub my back for me. She just asked if she could ‘catch it’ when the baby was born.”
On the day of the birth, Ms Haynes revealed she woke up at 8.30am with contractions.
She said the pains weren’t too bad so she spent a few hours snuggled up on the couch with her daughter while staying in touch with her birthing team.
“I kept in touch with my midwife – who was coming to my house for a home birth – and my photographer, so she knew exactly when to come over,” Ms Haynes said.
“When Izzy’s bedtime arrived, I didn’t send her to bed. I knew I couldn’t let her miss seeing her brother being born.
“My family arrived at our house too, just in case Izzy started freaking out during the birth.”
By 8.30pm, Ms Haynes said she knew her baby was on his way, and in true mini “midwife” form, Izzy started rubbing her back while telling her to breathe and relax.
“She was so excited – when the photographer and the midwife arrived she shouted, ‘My brother is going to come out’, with a huge grin on her face,” Ms Haynes said.
“My midwife arrived, then the photographer arrived and started taking photos.
“I got into the birth pool that we’d set up in the living room, and Izzy asked if she could get in too.
“ISN’T MY BABY BROTHER CUTE?!”
“It felt totally natural to have Izzy in the pool with me. I thought she’d want to jump out after five minutes but she didn’t.”
Ms Haynes said her daughter sat between her legs the whole time and when the midwife told her the baby was coming, she put her hands out and felt his head.
“Then, as I gave one final push, the midwife guided Izzy, and baby Henry was born into her arms.
“It was the most amazing moment – probably the best of my life.”
The delighted daughter was also over the moon, announcing to everyone around her: “Aw hi! Isn’t my baby brother cute?!”
Ms Haynes’ daughter also stayed in the pool while she delivered the placenta.
“Then I was moved from the pool to my bed where I bonded with baby and we started our life as a family of four,” she said, adding Izzy was incredibly proud of her part in Henry’s arrival.
“She loves looking at the photos and watching the video.
“She’ll happily tell strangers in the supermarket that she caught her brother.”
But not everybody agrees letting a little girl be so involved in a birth is a good idea.
“I’ve had people telling me I’m a terrible mother for letting Izzy watch me give birth and others calling it child abuse,’ Ms Haynes said.
“I completely disagree. There is nothing more natural than childbirth – why shouldn’t a child experience it?
“I watched my mum give birth to my sister when I was 14, and it was life-changing.
“Izzy and Henry are really close. She loves helping me take care of him.”