top of page

Navigating Emotional Transitions in Labor

Lessons from a Doula's Perspective

In my journey as a birth doula, I've had the privilege of working with incredible clients who often enlighten me with new insights into the emotional complexities of childbirth. One memorable experience involved a client undergoing a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) to welcome her second child. Coming from an affluent background, her life was well-structured, especially regarding her relationship with her first-born son, who was two and a half years old. While her VBAC was a success and the birth room buzzed with celebration, the mother’s reaction was notably subdued, even detached, signaling that something deeper was affecting her.

This mother's despondency stemmed from her worry about her newborn daughter’s impact on the established routines with her first-born son. The transition from exclusive attention to sharing love and attention between siblings is a common source of anxiety for parents. Despite hiring help to maintain these routines, the mother struggled with frustration and fear, highlighting the need for mental health support tailored to post-partum issues, including sibling integration. Thankfully, she was open to seeking the necessary support.

Fast forward 18 months, another poignant case was Kathleen, who was in labor with her second child. Unexpectedly, she began to cry uncontrollably, affecting her labor progress. The trigger? She had forgotten to kiss her two-year-old son goodbye before rushing to the hospital. Despite her husband's attempts to comfort her, Kathleen was inconsolable, mourning the perceived loss of her exclusive relationship with her first child.

Drawing on my previous experience, I understood Kathleen needed acknowledgment of her feelings to move forward. I reassured her, "Your lap and your heart are big enough for two," offering the comfort and validation she needed to embrace the addition to her family. This moment underscored the importance of recognizing and addressing the emotional dynamics of expanding families, particularly for parents accustomed to being an only child.

As doulas, we witness our client’s emotional and psychological challenges firsthand. Incorporating discussions about parenting multiple children and providing mental health resources specializing in maternal health during prenatal sessions can empower clients and their families.

Tips for Welcoming a New Sibling

  • Arrange a hospital visit for the sibling.

  • Prepare a special gift from the newborn to the older child.

  • Celebrate the newborn's arrival as a family milestone.

  • Involve the eldest child in caring for the newborn as a helper.

  • Dedicate one-on-one time with the eldest child to maintain a sense of normalcy.

  • Find shared activities to strengthen the bond between the mother and the eldest child.

Acknowledging and addressing a parent's fears and anxieties about balancing love and attention among their children is crucial. This approach fosters trust and empowerment, positively impacting the entire family unit. Kathleen and John implemented these strategies, leading to Kathleen's confident transition into motherhood for two. Her heartfelt thank-you gesture was a testament to the significance of understanding and supporting the emotional journey of childbirth.

This experience reinforces the vital role of emotional support in labor and delivery, ensuring families navigate these transitions with compassion and understanding.


Denise Bolds, Bold Doula

Hi, I'm Denise

I'm Bold Doula, a passionate birth doula who advocates for empowering birth experiences. If you're looking for support or guidance on your journey to parenthood, please reach out. I'd love to help you navigate this transformative time with confidence and care!

Post Archive 


No tags yet.
bottom of page