Advice to cope with new parenting

Mothers and babies at one of my recent birth and baby classes

When grappling with pregnancy or a small baby, many of us reach for ‘how to’ books. They are obviously helpful when it comes to new parenting but I believe caution is needed, as they can generate a sense of ‘a right way’.

So it is interesting to read Oliver Burkeman in The Guardian writing in a lively and ultimately cynical way about the value of self-help books when becoming a father. Women in my classes often report they relax and enjoy pregnancy and parenthood much more once they stop looking everything up online or in books.

Even though I have taught for many years, I hope I am never seen as a source of all wisdom, or a so-called birth guru. I prefer to use my experience to introduce ideas and possibilities, to encourage class members to make their own choices and to build trust in their own minds and bodies. Exploring these topics together helps groups bond and avoids the isolation that leads to insecurity and reliance on experts.

In a letter responding to the article, Sebastian Kraemer describes how parents need the help of others as an evolutionary imperative.

Bringing new life into this world can be an amazing period of change and creativity, but also brings pressures. Not everyone has an ecstatic birth or a calm happy baby, but we can look to what is shared during this intense time of life.

I find it sad to say good bye to new parents and babies after being closely involved during the months of yoga, birth and baby classes. But it’s also rewarding when I know strong group bonds have formed and will be sustained into the future.

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