BEGINS BEFORE BIRTH — I once participated in an information night for the Swedish Covenant Midwives, at Bloom Yoga. There was a wonderful group of parents interested in learning about natural, or undisturbed, childbirth. When parents introduced themselves, some said they would become a father (or mother) and then stated their due dates. My reaction to this was to ask, “When do you really become a parent?” There may be many different times, after becoming pregnant, when this realization hits. Having a baby is a life time commitment after all. Being an effective loving parent is one of the most rewarding and challenging projects we will ever take on! It takes some time to get used to the idea. Learning to parent is something that we grow into. As with birth, there is a great deal of trust and faith involved.
I believe parenting actually starts the moment someone decides to have a child. For many it may be when they learn they are pregnant and decide to parent. The planned pregnancy rates, in the US, are are about half of all pregnancies. This hasn’t changed much since my son came home from health class, back in the late 1990’s, to announce this amazing fact. The sooner parents embrace and begin to prepare to bring a new member into the family the better! All the decisions made during pregnancy are parenting decisions and may have an effect on the child for life.
The simple awareness that a baby is coming can have many positive changes in a family. Many parents improve their eating habits, make an effort to exercise for the big event, and learn some kind of relaxation technique. The baby feels everything the mom feels. Happy healthy mom and, hopefully, you get a happy healthy baby. It is my hope that mom will take time to remember the baby throughout the day with loving touch and words. Dad can offer the same as often as possible. Other family members can contribute to the parents well-being. Siblings can get involved. This is very fun and will increase bonding. This is such a special and important time. Baby hears your voices and feels your love.
The next time someone says, “I will be a parent on x date.” perhaps you can gently remind them that they are already a parent! In our fast paced world it may be easy to forget that this baby is actually a new human being and a very precious gift even before birth.