When you’re planning a homebirth and you already have children, the question about whether or not you will have your children at your birth will eventually come up. There is no right answer. Each family makes the right choice for themselves.
It's your preference. I always counsel mothers to follow their instinct about it. They know their children the best, and they also know if having children at their birth will be something that will bother them or not.
Some women know right away that they don’t want to have their children there. They will make arrangements to either have someone pickup their children if they go into labor when the children are awake, or they will have someone come over to occupy them in another part of the house. Either of these are totally valid options.
The majority of homebirthing families do plan to have their children home during the birth. I’ve attended births with children as young as 15 months old present. When the child is younger than 4 or so, I do recommend having a caretaker available for them that isn’t the mother’s partner, who is likely to feel pulled two directions if they are the only ones there to care for their young child. With that said, sometimes there is no one else available and it will work out and be okay.
As children get older, they may themselves voice their desire or opposition to being present. So, listen to their preferences. Some who say they don’t want to be there may change their mind in the moment, so it’s perfectly fine to be flexible and decide in the moment.
No matter their age, I do think it is beneficial for children who may be at the birth to at least listen to the audio of homebirth videos. They can of course watch them as well, but I find it most useful to let them hear the normal sounds that often occur during a birth. If you think they may be especially sensitive to birthing sounds, I’d recommend first having them watch the videos with the sound muted. Then you can talk about how when moms are having babies, its hard work and making loud noises helps the mother do that hard work. You can even ask younger kids what kind of animal do they think the mother sounds like. Helping them get comfortable with those sounds is so beneficial and will help ensure that even if you are vocalizing very loud in labor, your child won’t be phased.
Below are some videos that have a more realistic soundtrack. This is useful as many birth videos online have a music soundtrack or have cut out the louder vocalizing, which is not helpful in this case. https://youtu.be/48dhT2Bc2HU