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Nurturing, It's A Natural
March 2002 -
Expecting A Baby
Before your child is born, take some time to think about what it
will mean to be a parent.
For in the baby lies the future of the
world. Father must hold the baby close so that the baby knows it
is his world. Mother must take her to the highest hill so that
she can see what her world is like.
-From a Mayan proverb
The world looks different from a child's
Before birth, the mom's body is the baby's whole world, so make
sure it's a healthy place to live. The best thing you can do for
your growing baby is to live a healthy lifestyle. Cigarettes,
alcohol, drugs and violence can all harm a child even before it
is born. Regular check ups during pregnancy can prevent a lot of
Some pregnant women, or parents awaiting an
adoption, like to imagine what the world might look like from
the child's eyes, as soon as the baby comes out into the world
or arrives at her new home. What do you see when you picture the
world as a newborn baby might see it?
It's Perfectly Normal
Pregnancy, delivery, and taking care
of a baby are all things that are hard to imagine if you haven't
experienced them yourself. So it's normal to be nervous or to
not know what to expect. My friend Margaret got a lot of
reassurance from her grandmother when she was pregnant with her
first child: " She would tell me, 'Margaret honey, if I could do
it, you can do it,' and I would laugh and stop being so nervous
about it. "
When the new child is a second or third child,
older siblings can be jealous, or worried that there won't be
enough attention and love to go around. Make sure to tell them
that you will always love them and take care of them, and help
them get ready for their new role as an older sibling.
What do you think?
When a new child arrives, there isn't much time to sit and
think--things are way too hectic and busy! So it can help to
take a few minutes to reflect on what it will mean to be a
parent, or to have anther child in the house. Here are some
questions to get you started:
How is this baby going to change your life?
Who is going to be your biggest help?
What are you going to pass down to your child that you learned
from your parents?
What are you going to do differently?
What are your hopes and dreams for your child?
Especially for Dads
I asked a new dad, Al, how he got ready for fatherhood. " This
probably sounds silly, " he said, " but I started to talk to the
baby before she was even born. It began as kind of a joke, to
make my wife laugh, but then I realized that I had a lot to say
to the little tiny being in there. Sometimes at night I would
cuddle up with my wife and talk to the baby, telling her all my
hopes and dreams, and it was a great way for me to get ready. "
I didn't think that was silly at all. Maybe the baby inside
couldn't talk back to Al, but it was a great way for him to
start to bond with his baby. When the baby was born, Al had lots
more to say!
Al's friend, Peter, didn't talk to his baby
before his little boy was born. But he said that he got ready by
supporting the baby's mother to be healthy and happy during her
Pregnancy can be a joyful and exciting time, but it can also be
stressful. You might be worried about money, or childcare
arrangements, or whether your baby will be healthy. The most
important way to manage this kind of stress is to talk about it
with other expectant mothers (and fathers), and to talk with
people who have been through it already. You will see that you
are not alone in your worries, or your excitement. Most parents
don't get enough support, so make sure that you line up plenty
of friends, relatives, coworkers, and others to listen to you,
and to help you cope.
One of the best ways to handle the stress of
expecting a baby is to get home visits from someone who knows
all about what to expect. Home visits provide emotional support
and practical help before a baby is born, and afterwards too.
Another thing that can get in the way of
feeling joy and excitement when you're expecting a child is if
you have lost someone close to you, and you still feel grief and
sadness about that loss. Did you have a parent or a sibling who
died when you were young, or did you have a miscarriage or a
baby who died? That kind of loss can be overwhelming. When we
have lost someone, we can sometimes have a hard time attaching
to a new baby, so make sure you can find a trusted friend or
counselor to talk about those old losses. That way, we can honor
the memory of those we have lost and prepare ourselves for a
strong bond of love with a new child.
Good Start, a program of MSPCC, offers home visits to expecting
parents and to babies and young children up to three years old.
The home visits are free and voluntary, and cover the areas of
health, parenting, safety, child development, and support. They
can help a family learn about resources in the community, such
as parenting classes, parent support groups, play groups,
counseling, and substance abuse treatment. In Boston, call
If you are under 21 and expecting your first
child, home visits are available from the Healthy Families
program. Healthy Families is a program of the Children's Trust
Fund, and also covers the period from pregnancy to age three.
Their goal is to help young parents, moms and dads, to get the
support and information they need to raise healthy happy
children. Healthy Families home visits are free and completely
voluntary. For more information on their statewide services,
The Children's Trust Fund and MSPCC, which
provide these free services, are cosponsors of Nurturing...It's
a Natural, a public service campaign to promote positive
Some health insurance companies provide their
clients a similar service, offering home visits from a nurse to
help expecting parents prepare for a new baby, and help new
parents with breast-feeding, bathing, health and safety. Call
your health insurer for details.