A mum of two has shared her birth story with the world after allowing her two-year-old daughter to help her give birth to her younger brother in a birthing pool at home.
Ariel Haynes, 23, from Colorado in the U a birth photographer, said her then two-year-old daughter Izzy was thrilled when she told her she was pregnant and asked if she could take part in the birth.
“As soon as I told her she was going to have a brother or sister she asked if she could be there,” said Ariel. “It wasn’t something I even had to think about – it was a no-brainer that she would be there.”
It was a good idea, according to Ariel’s midwife, and fortunately, Thomas, Ariel’s husband, agreed. Ariel scheduled a birth photographer as her due date drew near and began preparing Izzy for the momentous 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,” said Ariel.
“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.”
Once Ariel’s labour really started to get intense, she contacted her family to look after her daughter in case she “freaked out”.
“Izzy started rubbing my back and telling me to breathe and relax, just like I’d taught her,” Ariel says.
“She was so excited – when the photographer and the midwife arrived she shouted, ‘mummy’s vulva is opening and my brother is going to come out’, with a huge grin on her face.
“As my midwife showed up, the photographer followed and began snapping pictures. Izzy requested if she might join me in the birth pool we had set up in the living room.”
“During labour, my midwife went to check how far down baby was and Izzy yelled at her, “don’t catch my brother.” She was reassured by my midwife that she would let her catch and that she wouldn’t hurt her. The fact that Izzy was in the pool with me felt very natural. After five minutes, I expected her to want to leave, but she persisted.
Izzy sat between Ariel’s legs the whole time, then 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.”
This is a lot for a toddler to manage, and not everyone agreed that including someone so young in labor and delivery was the correct course of action.
“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.”