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.

You can find out more about my classes and packages here. Or read more of my blog here.

Antenatal Classes and Birth Classes: How can they help prepare me for my baby?

A happy student from one of my birth classes

Antenatal classes, birth classes, NCT, pregnancy yoga. How do you know which is best for you? And what can you expect in a class. I offer a holistic package from pregnancy to early parenthood and here I explain all you need to know about these classes.

Antenatal classes are often criticised because they focus on birth, when actually the hardest bit is coping with a new baby.

Parents feel let down, because there was so much support before the big day but now, after all the excitement dies down, they are literally left holding the baby not knowing what to do.

I have thought long and hard about this over the years and how to address this in my pregnancy and birth classes in Hackney.

I try to bring in lots about parents and babies, for instance. Or couples who’ve taken my classes in the past come to visit with their babies, which everyone loves. I show short videos of baths and meeting your baby. We practice with dolls and I give out a printed guide for early parenting with advice and top tips.

But still, I notice people find it easier to concentrate on ‘what are the signs of labour?’ or ‘what positions are good for transition?’  than the nitty gritty of parenting.

Why is this? There are plenty of factors at work.

  1. It’s difficult to imagine you will actually have a baby.  Perhaps you can’t allow yourself to believe you and/or your baby will survive, so you focus on getting it out.
  2. You are learning more than you realise about looking after babies when preparing for birth.  It’s all about being in a zone, being timeless, allowing yourself to be instinctive, being confident in your partner that they are not rushing to sort things out last-minute, breathing and relaxing, moving and finding new positions to rock your baby as you do during birth.  And so on.
  3. Like birth, babies can’t be fixed and you can never be fully prepared, so it’s about being prepared for not being prepared.

This is why my birth class package includes mother and baby classes after birth as well as the antenatal stuff. That way you can share the highs and lows with the other mums you got close to during pregnancy and get some expert advice as well.

Believe me, these will be invaluable as you navigate through the early days!

For details on all my Hackney classes and advice on pregnancy and beyond. Please contact me.