Women's Healthcare Topics

Educating Siblings about your Pregnancy

Reviewed by James Brann, M.D.

Education of Siblings

Education of siblings about your pregnancy is important, because misunderstanding can lead to fear, confusion, and resentment. Provide your child with age appropriate educational materials, like books, DVDs, and conversation. Make sure the content is geared for your child's age and maturity level.

Education of Toddlers and Preschoolers

When do you tell them the big news? For toddlers, you can actually wait until the third trimester, or whenever they notice your growing middle. Nine months is a long time to wait. For preschoolers, the long wait is still hard, but most children are ready for the information right around the time Mom starts to show.

For these tiny tykes, there are many books and animated stories starring their favorite characters becoming big brothers and sisters.

Education of Early Elementary Schoolers (and the mature preschooler)

Education of siblings about your pregnancy is important.

These children are more perceptive than many give them credit for. They notice fatigue and vomiting. They are attuned to conversations quickly ending when they enter a room. While you don't want to clue them in immediately, you should consider sharing your joy with them once you are ready to tell the world at large.

If you're announcing to friends and family, your own school aged children should not be left out. It can only lead to hurt feelings. This may influence your decision to share your news as early. Generally, I recommend waiting until the end of the third month to tell kids of this age about pregnancy. By this point, parents are more comfortable that the pregnancy is healthy. Some couples wait as long as the four month tests like amniocentesis.

When discussing your big news with kids of this age, you may want to include basic information on reproduction. Many parents fear giving this information, but if they do it gradually rather than all at once, they will find it is easier for themselves and their children.

Keeping the information basic is important. A good rule of thumb is to follow your child's lead. Give a little information and see if it's enough by asking if your child has questions. In other words, if a child asks how the baby was made, offer a simple explanation. When grownups are in love, they can choose to create a baby together through that love. That may be enough information. There may not be a follow up question.

You may be asked more questions later on, when your child is ready to receive the information. If your child does ask how people use love to make a baby, then give a tidbit more information. Dads have seeds, moms have eggs, and together the seed and egg make a baby, just like seeds in the garden make plants. Might be enough, might not. The problem many parents encounter is that they misunderstand what questions their children are asking. They give more information than a child can process and that causes confusion. Listen to your child's questions.

Education for Older Elementary Schoolers, Preteens & Teenagers

In the case of your older children, you and your husband should seriously consider sharing your news with them before anyone else. It shows them that you respect them as people, not just as children. They will react more maturely if you show them you respect their maturity.

Take advantage of the opportunity to educate them about reproduction and your own family's moral beliefs. Older children have questions, too, though it may be harder for them to find their voice. Provide them with basic information via conversation, books, educational DVDs (be sure to preview the books and audiovisuals in advance) and make yourself available to answer questions. If you think your child has questions they are uncomfortable asking, invite them to write their questions down. Information is not permission to participate in sexual behavior. In fact, information may prevent experimentation.

Include the Kids

Children can make decisions. Obviously, many decisions will be reserved for you and Dad. Other times, decisions can be made by children. For example, if you cannot decide between a yellow nursery and green nursery, let the kids decide.

Children can accompany you to doctor's visits. If they want to go (and you're confident they will behave) let them go with you to the obstetrician once in a while.

Children can help with organization. Make a list and allow big brother to pack your diaper bag.

Making your older children or step-children feel included is so important. If they feel they have a vested interested in the new baby, they are less likely to feel threatened.


Doctor's Corner

Pregnancy Week by Week - Women's Healthcare Topics