Thursday, September 10, 2009

AP Thursdays: Preparing for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting

* Photo is of my eldest on his born day!

The first principle of Attachment Parenting is to Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting, which is really an apropos topic to tackle considering that I am pregnant with my second child. I will admit that this pregnancy was a surprise one, I initially thought I was food poisoned, LOL! However that doesn't mean I slacked on preparing myself once I learned I was pregnant.

I've been reading up more on Attachment Parenting specifically on how I might do things differently this time around. For example, I bed-shared with my eldest, but I am choosing to co-sleep with Na'im first in a co-sleeper and then in a crib in our room. I've also investigated ways to diffuse any conflicts that arrive from outside influences on my parenting choices, so now I have an arsenal at my disposal, which I didn't have before. Not knowing how to a stand on your parenting choices can cause havoc in your marital relationship as well as make you second guess yourself (espescially as a first time mother), however if you have done your research and trust your instincts no one should be able to stop you from parenting the way you choose to.

Another very important part of your preparation is preparing for the actual birth of your child. So many of us get caught up in buying onesies, booties, blankets, and strollers, that we forget to get to that point, you actually have to give birth! Think about how you want your birth experience to be and what are your actual options at your hospital. I wanted to be as active as possible with my eldest and because I knew from attending birth classes given by my hospital that they are a lay you down and hook you up with monitors hospitals I delayed leaving for the hospital for a while (or what I thought was a while because I ended up at the hospital for 12 HOURS!!!). The time that I did spend at home I spent eating a good breakfast (the hospital I went to didn't let you eat while in labor!), took a nice warm shower, and bounced on my birthing ball (exercise ball) to relieve some of the contractions. I had also previously created and printed out a birth plan that I had made using a template from BabyCenter, that I gave to my doctor before and to my nurse when I arrived at the hospital.

Here are some of API's suggestions on preparing yourself for pregnancy:
  • Reflect on childhood experiences and current beliefs about parenting
  • Explore parenting philosophies
  • Work through negative emotions surrounding the pregnancy
  • Prepare physically for pregnancy; eat nutritious foods, exercise regularly, avoid stress when possible
  • 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
  • Educate yourself 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?
The remarkable journey of new life is a positive, transformative experience. Pregnancy offers expectant parents an opportunity to prepare physically, mentally, and emotionally for parenthood. Making informed decisions about childbirth, newborn care, and parenting practices is a critical investment in the attachment relationship between parent and child. Education is a key component of preparation for the difficult decisions required of parents and is an ongoing process as each stage of growth and development brings new joys and challenges.

When preparing for the birth of a child, it is easy to get caught up in the material things associated with pregnancy, childbirth, and newborn care. Tiny infant clothing, the latest maternity fashions, and baby gear can all be part of preparing for a baby, but the lasting investment of preparation involves becoming informed so that you can create a peaceful, loving environment in which to grow, birth, and care for a new life.

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