How You Were Born is a book to be read with young children which tenderly and simply explains the process of birth.
It describes a straightforward homebirth without intervention, presenting the birth of a baby as a normal, calm event.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that this is a book just for children who had been born at home, but, actually, although it does focus on a homebirth, there’s plenty of opportunity for discussing a birth in a birth centre or hospital.
The book begins by describing the anticipation of parents, family and friends surrounding a pregnancy. This provides an opportunity to discuss all the people that are important to the unborn baby and would be a great point to consider the role of Big Brother/Sister if preparing a younger sibling for the new arrival.
A bag is packed in case there is a need to transfer to hospital with pictures of the things that might be needed, including a birth ball and things for Mum and the new baby. I was baffled by the inclusion of soap and eau de cologne however, but would probably draw a big cross through those and use that as a discussion starter about how babies look when they’re born, how they don’t need to be scrubbed and how they recognise the smell of their mum, as well as her’s and Dad’s voice, so she doesn’t need to mask that with perfume!
However, this is a good way to initiate the conversation that some babies are born at home and some in hospital.
The birth process is then explained gently, describing Mum’s tummy muscles working in strong waves to help the baby move down, with drawings showing her being supported by her partner and a midwife, in the bathtub, listening to music and vocalising – “Aaaaaaaaa” with contractions.
Once born, the baby is cuddled and breastfed during 3rd stage (delivery of the placenta) and there is a brief description of the role of the placenta which one could embellish on depending on the age and curiosity of the child.
So, it’s the story of a straightforward birth. It is the process that’s described so well and you could easily not mention the fact that it’s a homebirth if that suits your requirements. It would also be easy to weave in other details if you wanted to, to make it personal to how your child was born.
The book is marketed as being for children aged 2-5 and it is, indeed, ideal for that age group: lovely, serene drawings and text explaining, very basically, the physiology of birth. My youngest child is 9 yrs old and I decided to read it with him to see what he thought. We got a huge amount out of it – he asked lots and lots of questions, especially about the placenta, umbilical chord and his own tummy button!
I think the book could have a reassuring role for pre-school children preparing for the arrival of a sibling and hopefully negate any anxieties.
How You Were Born is a story that can enhance childrens’ understanding of birth, whatever their age; almost every page invites discussion if appropriate but equally covers the subject matter adequately as it is.
How You Were Born is published by Pinter & Martin