It depends on hospital policy as well as the comfort level of you and your child.
Sometimes it feels like everyone in the world is present at the delivery of a baby, but in reality only those who are necessary to provide medical care and support to mom and baby should be in your labor and delivery room.
Some parents of older siblings wish to have them present when their new baby is born, and if this is the case, it is important to prepare prior to the big day. First, check with your hospital’s visitation policy, since some labor and delivery units do not allow young children to be present at all or during certain times of the year (such as flu season). If they give you the OK, realize that emergencies do sometimes happen, and if you need a C-section, for example, your child will not be allowed in the operating room and, in this situation, would need a friend or family member to watch them. Therefore, having another adult present whose sole responsibility is to care for your older child is key.
Lastly, make sure your child wants to be present and is emotionally ready to see a baby being born as well as his or her mom possibly in pain. This can be scary for some younger children, so be honest when assessing the maturity level of your child. If you think they will be alright, prep them by talking about the birth and reading books on the topic so they know what to expect. If they seem uncomfortable during the labor or seem to have changed their minds, do not be disappointed and make sure a backup plan for childcare is in place.
Reviewed by Jennifer Lincoln, January 2019