How To Explain Childbirth To Young Children

‘How will the baby come out?’ As your child is excitedly awaiting the arrival of a new sibling, this question will likely come up sooner or later. When it happened to me, I asked a few other mums for suggestions. Some had chosen to answer that they’d go to the hospital where the doctor would take the baby out. This answer didn’t sit well with me. It wasn’t true (there’d be no doctor at the birth provided that everything went well) plus I wanted to promote birth as a natural process. Granted, none of my kids would be having babies any time soon, but you’d never know what would stay in their little minds.  So I volunteered a minimalistic, but honest answer.

“Through the birth canal, which is here.” My son looked at me sizing up my belly, then the space between my hips. “No way. It’s not big enough.” Tell me about it. Labour is not called ‘labour’ for nothing. As it turned out, a minimalistic answer wasn’t going to cut it. My kids simply didn’t believe me. In search of better explanation, here are some points that I found helpful and maybe, you will, too.

It’s ok to be honest about anatomy

The discomfort you and I may be feeling about discussing our bodies, especially genitals, comes from our upbringing. As far as kids are concerned, the genitals are just body parts, same as their knees or bellies. A matter-of-fact attitude makes the birth conversation a lot easier. It also helps when kids know the correct anatomical terms; then you won’t struggle to find the right words.

Pictures can be easier to understand than words

There are wonderful books with stories and illustrations to help young children understand birth and how to welcome their new sibling. Some books I recommend are ‘My new baby’ by Rachel Fuller and ‘Welcome with Love’ by Jenni Overend. I also found it helpful show my kids some educational videos with illustrated images. They couldn’t understand the explanations, but the pictures made it very clear what was happening during the birth process. It’s good to have a look at the books and the videos before you show them to your kids, both to determine if they are appropriate and to prepare your commentary when your kids start asking questions.

Others have done it before you

Children a curious and ‘How will the baby come out?’ is a common question. Ask other parents for suggestions and you’re bound to find something that will work for you, too.

While birth is an interesting topic in itself, this conversation presents the perfect opportunity to prepare your child for life with the new baby. The birth will come and go, and it’s just the beginning of a beautiful sibling relationship.

Image by Nina Matthews via Flickr.

By Tatiana Apostolova