When your new baby or child arrives in your life, you are "born" too, as a new parent. Even if you have other children, even if you're blending families, your parenting will need to grow and expand to integrate the newest arrivals and continue to grow as your family dynamics change as your child(ren) develop individually and together with you and other siblings and family members.
You grow with your children, in other words and this means that great deal of regular and unexpected change will become and remain normal for many years.
You've already had a taste of this, and you'll keep getting regular practice, as you've made changes to prepare for the arrival of the newest family member(s)!
Preparation for Becoming a Parent - and for keeping prepared for each developmental stage
- Reflect on your own childhood experiences and current beliefs about parenting.
- Explore parenting philosophies.
- Work through any persistent emotions or worries you might have surrounding parenting.
- Recommit to a strong, healthy relationship between expectant parents, family, friends and other supporters. The "village" isn't a cliche.
- Prepare to have extra help in the first few weeks after your child arrives.
- Keep up to date with the norms for each developmental stage. Parent groups are helpful and helpful social support from others is a must for parents to be healthy.
- Set realistic expectations for both parents and children (by keeping up to date with norms and knowing your child's temperament and other unique family or child needs.)
- Discuss concerns with others before they become crises.
- Learn about different resources to keep supported and informed.
- As you being to parent, reflect on any "voices from the past" that may surface from your own childhood. When you feel strong feelings about you of your child "should" or "should not," this is a signal to explore the voices and decide how they may or may not be helpful for you and your child and family.
- Seek professional advice and help when challenges feel overwhelming. Putting on our own oxygen mask first is the most important step in raising healthy children.
Preparing for Pregnancy & Birth
Pregnancy offers expectant parents an opportunity to prepare physically, mentally, and emotionally for parenthood. After the baby arrives, we rarely have the same preparation time to face each new challenge. But each situation we encounter means that we too are learning and grow and become like new parents all over again with each milestone our child reaches.
Making informed decisions about childbirth, newborn care, and parenting practices is a gift of time and energy that all parents are willing and able to make. Support, information, preparation and practice help us navigate each new joy and challenge.
Cute baby things and the latest gear don't last, but the quality of our parenting is our child's lifelong foundation for healthy growth. If that's the kind of registry you're looking for, keep reading and be sure to search for an AP or other parent group near you to be your stress buffer and added parenting brainpower.
- Prepare physically for pregnancy; eat nutritious foods, exercise regularly, keep stress low.
- Explore different types of healthcare providers and birthing options. Consider reading "Ten Questions to Ask" and "Ten Steps" by the Coalition for Improving Maternity Services, and visiting the Baby-Friendly Initiative website by UNICEF.
- Learn about breastfeeding.
- Be alert and physically active during childbirth.
- Research all aspects of "routine" newborn care, such as bathing, circumcision, eye drops, blood samples, collecting cord blood, etc. Document your preferences and share them with health care providers.
- Consider a birth and/or postpartum doula.
- Be prepared with questions to ask should unexpected birth or newborn situations arise.
- What are the benefits of this intervention, and what are your instincts telling you?
- What are the risks and possible outcomes if I choose to do this or if I choose not to?
- What are the other options?
- How long do I have to make the decision?