When babies are born, parents are born too. When children grow, parents grow alongside. Whether you're a brand new parent or you're interested in learning and preparing for whatever is happening now, growth and development is a remarkable journey and a positive, transformative experience.
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 brain power.
Preparing for Pregnancy & Birth
- 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 the pregnancy.
- 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.
- Recommit to a strong, healthy relationship between expectant parents.
- 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.
- Prepare to have extra help in the first few weeks after birth.
- 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?
Preparation for Becoming a Parent - and for keeping prepared for each developmental stage
- Keep up to date with the norms for each developmental stage. (Groups can be really helpful.)
- Set realistic expectations for both parents and children.
- Discuss concerns with others before they become crises.
- Learn about different resources to keep supported and informed.
- Reflect on "voices from the past" from your own childhood to decide how those voices may or may not be helpful as you make parenting decisions for your child.
- Seeking professional advice and help is what great parents do when challenges feel like too much. Putting on our own oxygen mask first is the most important step in raising healthy children.