Talking to Children About Childbirth

Talking to Your Children About Childbirth
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We were sitting around the table last night eating dinner, when all of a sudden the question I have long been dreading came up.

“How does a baby come out of Mummy’s tummy?” asked Master 8.

I awkwardly cleared my throat, trying to phrase a dignified response in my head that would also be appropriate to be heard by the five year old and 3 three year olds also present at the table.

Before I could issue a carefully worded response, Daddy abruptly responded, “You came out from between Mummy’s legs,” Master 8’s face was looking puzzled and bewildered but he quickly forgot this as he heard Daddy say, “and while you did, your Mum did this”, and then he proceeded to emit a  dramatic moan and panting.

I was mortified. Absolutely mortified I tell you.

The children were delighted and laughed ecstatically which only fuelled Daddy further.  He moved onto a description the next childbirth in the family (that had not had an epidural) and emitted a horrifying comical wail and scream.

The children were in hysterics. I was not. Daddy looked very pleased with himself. Not one ounce repentant.

The triplets wanted to know what I did when they were born. “Oh you were just cut out of Mummy’s stomach. She didn’t say anything.” Everyone looked disappointed, except Master 5 who had turned slightly pale. I’m fairly certain he was picturing a woodsman with an axe cutting the babies loose, just like in Little Red Riding Hood. The rest of the table appeared to accept that it was far more logical for babies to get cut out of stomach’s rather than come out from between someone’s legs.

There was a little more irreverent talk about C-sections and pregnancy before the children trotted off and grabbed some yoghurt for dessert. (I must have still been shell shocked because I didn’t even notice the two little boys hadn’t finished eating their dinner.)

Daddy and twins
Last night on their way to bed. Everyone (except maybe Mummy) was in high spirits.

 

As embarrassing as Alex’s ‘talk’ was for the children, it really wasn’t all bad. Somehow, he managed to tick some of the boxes of my requirements for sex education.

1. Begin Early.
I want to talk about sex and associated activities, i.e. childbirth(!) while the children are young. I don’t want to run the risk of my children being educated from others and being taught misconceptions and inaccuracies.
Check: Three year olds have have heard about some aspects of childbirth.

2. Be Informal
When I was given, “The Talk”, my mother was so factual using terms like “egg” and “ovaries” that when the time came to menstruate, I had no idea what was going to happen. (Sorry Mum!) I want to be specific in an informal way when talking to my children, so they understand while remaining innocent.
Check: Role play dramatically increases informality.

3.  Limit Embarrassment
Our sexuality is a natural part of life. I don’t want my kids being embarrassed about it or thinking it is dirty. Having said that, I do what them to be respectful when talking about sexuality and talk about it appropriately in the right context.
Check: Our kids weren’t embarrassed.
Future action: May need to reconsider whether childbirth and other associated talks are appropriate at the dinner table. Also may need to follow up and approach subject delicately to ensure children are not describing the way they were born on the playground.

Sex Education
Master 8 last night. Not one bit embarrassed.

Thank goodness somehow Alex is doing the right thing. (How do Dads do that???) Obviously he hasn’t scarred our daughter either. As I tucked her into bed she patted her vagina and said, “I’m glad I have a china. It’s special and the boys don’t have chinas.”

He remains unrepentant. “I can’t believe you told the children that at dinner tonight!” I told Alex after the kids were in bed last night. His response was a huge smile and he walked away chuckling saying, “The kids didn’t mind.” Considering we have four sons, Alex will be responsible for the majority of these talks, so I can only imagine what conversations in the future will look like.

Have you talked to your child about childbirth or sex? How did that go? 
Is it on your “To Do” list? What are your expectations?

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29 Comments

  1. We’ve always been pretty open with our kids about childbirth etc. However I let the school do the whole sex ed thing (my kids are 15 and 11).
    My biggest problem was telling them about Santa! I still haven’t told Mr 11. I need to do that soon …
    Leanne @ Deep Fried Fruit.

  2. I would be in the Alex camp about this. Our eldest (who is only one old enough to understand) knew about the childbirth process around 3. I actually think younger is possibly better — the whole thing is then devoid of embarrassment for them. A 3 year old accepts things at face value, they have no concept of things being private or culturally taboo. What is inappropriate about children knowing that most babies are born vaginally? I kind of shrug my shoulders on this one. Hold your head high — the primal scream of childbirth is a rite of passage 😉

    1. Don’t worry, I don’t think it’s inappropriate for children to be born vaginally and absolutely agree that younger children accept it at face value. I just had never discussed it because the boys hadn’t really asked, possibly because boys don’t think through all the scenarios as much as girls. I think it was the sound effects that were mortifying. Perhaps a rite of passage, but not one I wish to re-enact, particularly at the dinner table!

      1. Ha Ha! Just re-read what I wrote! How scandalous would it be if I thought it would be inappropriate to be born vaginally! What I meant to say is that I was fine with telling my kids where they were born when the wondered, but had expected it to a more careful and considered conversation!

  3. Your husband sounds awesome 🙂 Some dads just have that natural knack for difficult conversations… My 3 yo asked me how she came out of my tummy and I got so flustered and panicked – I really wasn’t ready for the question at 3!

  4. This is hilarious although I’m know it didn’t seem like that at the time! Mine got the facts fairly early on as our neighbour had a baby and my girls were unrelenting in wanting to know how it happened and how he came out, they were 4 and 5 at the time. They were more ready for the discussion than I was!

  5. Great tips here and yes, start early but only when they ask. And I only tell them what they have asked – nothing more. That’s when it gets embarrassing…

  6. Typical dad!
    I told mine that God made a special spot for babies to come out, and they all accepted that without question. But it has been a while since this came up.
    I’ve done the sex talk with my eldest. I giggled the whole way through it, because I am very mature like that 🙂

  7. I am laughing! Alex is hilarious! All great tips Caitlin. We haven’t had those questions here yet but I have no doubt they will come up. I’ve talked to Esther about how no one is to touch her down there and the difference between boys and girls. I’m sure I will be looking for this post when the questions come up. sadly Jacob won’t be able to make the same storytelling techniques since I only had c-sections! X

    1. He really is hilarious sometimes Bec! Offbeat Dad humour on call. I think it’s so important to teach children safety about touching. I’ve had to repeat the message several times to Immy and she makes up all sorts of confusing stories about ‘her china’ and mixes the message sometimes. Innocence can be concerning for parents sometimes!

  8. Oh that is hilarious! Mr 5 hasn’t asked yet and I am dreading the day when he does. It took me long enough to convince him that I don’t and never had a willy.

  9. You’ve got to love Dads, don’t you?! Always doing things in their easy going, playful way. Sounds like his childbirth 101 was a raging success. I can just imagine your face though when he started wailing. I agree starting early is important. I was way too old when my mum gave me the talk. I was too embarrassed to listen to anything by that stage. Totes awks 😉

  10. So something my hubby would do! lol. Miss 9 has been asking a lot about babies and how it all ‘works’ as she puts it. I’m at the ‘I’ll tell you one day soon okay?’ stage, but wondering how much longer I can hold it off! eeek!

  11. I am literally laughing out loud! This is absolute gold. Husbands have the most random way of talking about what can be awkward topics.
    When my sister was heavily pregnant Mr6 said to me, “oh man, that’s gonna hurt so much when it comes out her butt!” – getting the right idea, but not quite the right place.

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