Experiences in the baby and parenting world are often broken down into prenatal and postpartum. Before baby and after baby. With all of the emphasis on these two states of being, you would think that a new chronological era begins after the birth of your little one. This can feel daunting. The truth is that there are numerous parallels between pregnancy and parenting. I’m going to argue that the prenatal challenges you endure actually prepare your body and mind to raise a little person. Here’s how:
Ten Trillion Decisions: The second that you and your partner see the positive pregnancy test, the joint decisions begin. Hospital or home-birth? Doctor, midwife and/or doula? What baby items do you register for? And on and on… When baby arrives, the choices don’t end, but you’ve had nine months of practicing effective decision-making with your partner. Bring on the the options, you are ready to make whatever decision comes your way.
Reminder: Take one decision at a time. Don’t feel like you have to figure out everything at once. Decisions about sleep-training, discipline styles and day-care can wait! Gather the information, weigh out your options with your partner and make a choice that feels right to both of you. Most of the time, you can change your mind and adjust as you go.
Physical Strains and Discomfort: Everyone knows about the physical effects of pregnancy: morning sickness, heart burn, sleep disturbances. Even dads-to-be often report vicarious symptoms. When you become a new parent and recover from the birth, most of the physical ailments disappear completely. Well… the nipples of breastfeeding moms take a little bit of a beating. And of course sleeping conditions do not improve for awhile. A long while. Fortunately your body is not completely caught off guard by these conditions. You’ve endured a lot. You can cope with these challenges as well, we promise you.
Reminder: Self-care is essential for expectant and new parents. You are going through a lot, but if you take the time to rest when you can and reach out for help when needed, your body will not disappoint you and will rise to the occasion. Just wait, watch and be amazed…
Emotional Highs and Lows: Pregnancy brings with it a tsunami of hormones and emotions. Most women find that they cry more than ever and experience a wild swing in how they’re feeling from moment to moment. Expectant dads are not immune to the roller coaster either. Parenthood brings more feelings with it. Add sleep-deprivation and the vulnerability that comes a long with a new baby into the mix, and the emotions run rampant. You might find yourself feeling both ecstatic and exasperated, all at once.
Reminder: If you’ve been a person who has always tucked your feelings in tight, the roller coaster of emotions might feel overwhelming. See this as an opportunity to let down your walls and release your inner drama queen. Emotions are healthy and normal and you are about to experience a lot of them. Releasing and expressing your feelings will help you to be a better parent. Of course, as we’ve said many times before, if your emotions seem insurmountable it might be time to reach out to your doctor or a trained counselor and get some help. Please don’t hesitate if this is the case.
Breathe and Let Go: If you pop in on a childbirth class, you’ll hear a lot about deep-breathing, staying focused, thinking positively and relaxing. If you can remember to use these skills and techniques, they’ll help you through your labor and delivery. What the childbirth instructor often forgets to mention is that these same skills will be handy for the next 18 years! Parenting can be a wild ride – remembering to inhale, smile and relax will help you to weather the many challenges that come your way.
Reminder: Even if you learn and practice these relaxation skills, you might forget to use them when you need them the most. This is when your parenting partnership will come in handy. When you see your partner feeling overwhelmed, give them a hug, remind them to breathe, share a few encouraging words and offer to take over for a while. You two have practiced some serious skills – you can do this.
Pregnancy and parenthood are two parts of one amazing journey. If you and your partner have tackled a pregnancy together, you will already have many of the skills you need to raise a child. Pull from the strength and knowledge you have already gained and get ready to rock as a parent. We know you will be amazing.
Here’s to Strength and Similarities,