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Siblings have a tremendous impact throughout our lives. Not only are more US children now growing up with siblings than with father figures, kids also tend to spend more active one-on-one time with their brothers and sisters than with their parents. Fully two-thirds of adults consider their siblings to be their best friends, indicating that though parents of small children are often worried about sibling rivalry, there's no other bond that can replace this one.
Welcoming a new baby into the family can be exciting and tough for young kids at once, of course — and that special bond may not develop right away.
Siblings At Birth: A Divisive Topic
Ask anyone, lay person, medical professional, or psychologist, how they feel about the idea of children attending the birth of their younger brother or sister, and you will get many different opinions.
What is so divisive about this topic? First off, we can't ignore that childbirth is inherently dangerous. Many things can go wrong, and go wrong really fast! Parents who would like their older kid(s) to attend the birth of a new sibling do so because they hope it will be a positive experience — but there's also the possibility that they end up witnessing part of a very scary emergency instead. Secondly, non-cesarean births involve genitals, and this certainly plays a large role in some people's strong visceral opposition to the idea of children present at childbirth. Finally, childbirth tends to hurt. "Do you really want your young child to hear you scream in agony?", nay-sayers will inevitably ask.
Those who have had their children at labor and delivery or have been present for their own siblings' births, and those generally in favor of the practice, will quickly point out benefits as well. Seeing a sibling being born helps a young child understand that the new baby is a part of the family, not a being that appeared seemingly out of nowhere. It can also help a child understand how they, themselves, were born. Childbirth, advocates of the practice hold, is a natural and positive experience, not something that need to go on behind closed doors. Then, there's the fact that kids can easily be present at the "head side of things" rather than looking at the bits where the action will take place!