Updated: Sep 24, 2020
As a birth doula in Montreal, I love prenatal meetings with first-time parents. We get to know each other better and I get to learn about how they see life, what they want for their future, and for their baby. For the majority, their focus is on getting ready for the big event – BIRTH! But that’s only one part of the journey.
In many ways birth is like reaching the peak of a mountain. During the last weeks of pregnancy, the path up the ascent is in our central view. But there is also the other side of the mountain we can't see during pregnancy which is often left unexplored. The unseen peaks, valleys and plateaus behind the mountain: the vast landscape of parenting.
FIND YOUR COMPASS
All great explorers use a compass to help them navigate! How will you find the compass to support your navigation of the parenting landscape? Many seek the answers outside of themselves. But the truth is that it’s not found online, in books or courses. And it's definitely not in the good intentional advice from family friends and other random people that think they know what’s best for your baby. You may get a few good ideas, but they won’t direct you to your family’s individual path. That is up to you to find as a family.
YOUR COMPASS DURING PREGNANCY
When is a good time to start developing your family compass? It is never too early to start! We now know that the fetuses learn from their encounters in the womb. You can start to connect and learn about your baby's personality before they are born, letting them know that there is a caring family that will welcome them earth-side.
There are many ways to approach this special bonding time. You can create a focused time every day to connect:
Take some quite time to become aware of the growing life inside you. Notice the patterns of wakefulness and sleep.
You can have conversations with baby out loud or with your inner voice.
When taking a bath, you can gently massage your belly and feel your baby. Your unborn baby can feel your touch.
You can sing, play music or soundscapes. Around 16 to 18 weeks your baby will develop ears and shortly after will start to hear and listen to sounds.
YOUR COMPASS EVOLVES ONCE BABY IS BORN
Once your baby is born, your family compass evolves as you learn more about your baby's personality and needs! It will also be used as your baby grows. It changes when you give time for dialogue in your relationship with your partner.
Your family compass will create your family's principles, beliefs and values that shape what direction and path you will take together.
QUESTIONS TO DEVELOP YOUR FAMILY COMPASS
During our prenatal meetings we take the time to start understanding your family compass.
We start to ask questions and your answers will evolve as you grow together.
What are the principals and values that are important for you as new parents?
How do we best communicate with each other when challenging situations arise?
What support do we have in place for the first steep ascent awaiting in the first weeks after giving birth and caring for a newborn baby?
There are also key questions I suggest you bring along on your journey as you move into the ever-changing landscape of parenting.
Is this safe?
Does this feel right for us?
Knowing that you are building the foundation of your compass with your partner (if you have one) and your baby will give you direction on how to better navigate the map your baby will reveal as they develop and grow. And you will find more confidence and ease as parents.