CONGRATULATIONS! You are likely reading this due to pregnancy or you've recently become a parent.
It's also likely you've discovered early on that EVERYONE has an opinion on pregnancy, birthing, your baby and parenting. Some opinions are helpful, some are just downright offensive, but it can be a deeply confusing and overwhelming time for any new parents, or parents to be.
Learning any new skill is a challenge, especially 'how to become a parent' that comes without an official manual and that has a 24/7 impact on life as you once knew it.
Welcome to the beautiful yet crazy ride of pregnancy and parenthood!
To help you navigate the journey, Parents Guide Illawarra has tapped into the wisdom of two women whose opinion is highly qualified and most importantly, who only want the best for the health and well being of you and your baby.
So, we found two qualified, highly experienced, kind and compassionate midwives, and we asked them this:
'What four things would you love every pregnant woman, their partner or any new parent to know?
What nuggets of wisdom can you share that can best help us navigate our way during this time?'
Emma Gedge and Helen Donovan, our two chosen midwives from Wollongong (who we thoroughly enjoyed interviewing!) have seen thousands of women through pregnancy, birth and those first tumultuous six weeks of life with a new born.
Emma and Helen are so passionate about helping mums and new parents to be supported more fully, that they have launched a new Illawarra based Midwife Support Service called Nurture & Grow (more on this later!).
Emma and Helen were unanimous in their answers below, of what 4 key things can help during pregnancy, birth and adjusting to life with your beautiful bundle
of new born...
Please spread these 4 'nuggets of gold' far and wide - like and share - as we'd love to help smooth the path through some of the most beautifully intense and challenging times of our lives:
1) Whilst pregnant, invest in good antenatal education around birth and breastfeeding.
Oh, this is so important! Fear comes from the unknown and a lack of quality information, so choose your sources and education wisely. So, if knowledge is power, empower yourself with credible, evidence-based, up-to-date yet supportive sources. You want the right information that will support your situation and the type of birth you're aiming for.
Dr Google is not always right, or applicable to your individual situation, and neither is your Auntie Gladys who had a baby in 1950! There is a lot of choice when it comes to antenatal education which great but carefully check the credibility of those running the program.
Also, we know how busy lives are but make sure your partner or support person is part of this learning process, it will unite you!
Nurture & Grow offer private ante-natal and breastfeeding education classes that come to you across the Illawarra, perfect for busy or time poor couples
who want up-to-date, evidence based and empowering information delivered by expert Midwives and that is tailored to their unique situation and ideal
birth plans. Click here to read more.
2) Lower your postnatal expectations. And lower them again. And a bit more.
Your baby in your arms after the rigours of pregnancy and childbirth is what we long for. It is what it all about. Facebook and other images show us ecstatic new parents cradling their new borns in delight. Most of us, whether consciously or unconsciously have created an ideal vision of how it 'should be'.
The anticipation of this time is both wonderfully exciting but it can also be unrealistic. Because life with a newborn is unpredictable and it is completely normal to feel overwhelmed. The exhaustion and recovery from birthing can for some of us, deplete the joy, love and relief we expected to feel. Then the uncertain questions that any parent has with their newborn, like 'is this normal', 'are they feeding enough or too much'.
So, Emma and Helen encourage your anticipation and excitement but just with less 'glossy' expectations of how it will all be.
3) Seriously consider limiting visitors in the first few weeks, especially in hospital.
Use the rule of thumb, ‘am I comfortable for this person to see me in my undies and breastfeeding?’ If not, they can wait to see you at home once you’re settled.
When babies are held and passed around by too many people they will become unsettled and grumpy, usually as soon as everyone has gone home and Mum is left to deal with the fall out all night.
Those first days are a special, often emotional time you won’t get back. Spend them bonding with your new family and learning about your new baby.
Once you’re home, people will want to drop by. A good visitor arranges a time that suits you, brings you food, hangs out a load of washing and makes you a cuppa. Don’t feel that you need to play host and if anyone offers practical help like cooking, cleaning or bringing you coffee and cake just say yes WITHOUT GUILT!
Remember it takes a village and gratefully accepting support (when it's helpful, practical support) is great and helps you cope, saying yes doesn't mean you are not coping!
4) Have a support team - or know where you can access support
Our communities and 'villages' are not like they once were. As we retreat into our houses and have our baby's later in life, not many of us 'see' what new parents go through. So we don't know what is 'normal' and what is not when it comes to caring for our new born and ourselves after birth. Often too, we live far away from family members who would normally be our support team.
So, if you don't have the luxury of supportive family members close by - here is another lovely way to create your support team!
Emma and Helen run a brilliant post natal Midwife Service that comes to your home after you return home from hospital with your baby (for up to six weeks). It is exactly the time when we need the calm reassurance of a qualified midwife that we can fire our questions to, whether it's feeding, poo'ing, wee'ing (your's or the baby's!), caring for baby or your lady bits / surgery post birth, or help with breastfeeding which most new mum's need, they visit you in your home and they won't have any expectations for you to change out of your pyjamas either.
With our sincere thanks to Emma Gedge and Helen Donovan, for sharing their years of wisdom and for helping smooth our path into parenthood and for Nurture and Grow for sponsoring this article! To read more about Helen, Emma and how you can access the expertise and support offered by Nurture & Grow, call 0413 309 213 or: