"Where do babies come from?"
Now, I'm no child psychology expert, so I'm not going to tell you the proper way to approach this question with each age group - there are plenty of books out there for that. I have a scientist's brain, and I'm very comfortable talking with my kids about the mechanics of how to make and birth a baby and the biology behind it all. But we all know there is SO much more to the story, and it can be difficult, as a parent or grandparent, finding the right words to help kids and teenagers think about EVERYTHING (physical, emotional, psychological) involved in bringing a child into the world. And it's a conversation between parents and children that should take place constantly, at different levels of understanding, starting as young as preschool and continuing into their teens.
A great way to begin the conversation after your child asks that question, is to share a pregnancy/birth story. Children of all ages usually respond well to anything involving themselves and their story, so talking about their birth brings the topic into focus for them and makes the conversation personal. Starting with a story also helps you, as educator, relax and gather your thoughts better than if you just all-of-a-sudden started talking about biology, hormones, relationships, etc.
Because most children are very visual, a great way to share a child's birth story with them is by bringing out their baby book and/or scrapbook to look at. If kept a journal while you were pregnant and during the newborn phase, maybe read to the child from that as well. A lot of parents now have video of their children's births, and those are great to show kids while having these discussions, too.
I like to tell my kids that every pregnancy and every birth, just like every child, is unique and special in its own way. My pregnancies, especially my first, were high-risk, which was very difficult for me and my husband, but we ended up with a lot of neat ultrasound photos, which I included in pregnancy/birth scrapbooks for each of my children. (And showing these books to them now usually turns into a little bit of a STEM lesson about how ultrasound works!)
How did you feel when you found out you were going to have a baby? Happy? Surprised? Worried? Nervous? Excited? Why did you feel the way you did?
How did you prepare for the baby? How did you prepare older siblings for the arrival of the baby?
What did being pregnant feel like? What did they do at your doctor/midwife visits?
What do you remember about the birth? Did it hurt? Was it hard? How did you feel when you held the baby for the first time?
If you are an older sibling, you might have birth stories to tell about your child's aunts and uncles. I remember a lot from when my brothers and sister were born, and my experiences during those times are pieces of my family's history. Share those memories with your child as well, especially if there may be a new baby on the way and he/she is apprehensive of what will happen or how things might change.
Explaining to your child about where babies come from is often a conversation feared by parents, but it shouldn't be, and sharing birth stories can make the experience less intimidating for parents and more personal for children.
©2017 Emily Kowalski Schroeder