Myth: You can’t really prepare for parenthood because until you get there, you can’t know what it’s going to be like.
Truth: The trouble is that this is a half truth. In one very real sense, every baby is different, and every
parent is different. Different babies come into the world with different temperaments. Some babies
sleep more easily, and many babies struggle with sleep. Some babies are “easy babies” and other
babies are more “sensitive.” Most babies need lots of repetitions to learn, but some need more and
some need less. And each of us comes into parenting with different experiences, and expectations.
Some of our experiences are ones we want to copy, and other experiences we definitely do NOT
want to copy.
The trouble comes when we assume that we can’t prepare for parenthood because our baby hasn’t
been born yet. When we say that, it’s like we are choosing to enter parenthood with an empty toolbox.
We arrive at the job and find that when problems come up, we don’t even know how to get started and we don’t have the tools that we need for the job. But there are things that we can do to put tools in our parenting toolbox, so that we have some tools to choose from when we need them. And then we observe our child and find the best tools that we need for the job at hand, that matches the child that we get. For example, I’ve been talking to parents recently whose 3rd or 4th baby was very different from the previous babies. For example, maybe the first babies slept more easily and this baby wakes any time we put her down.
With each baby, we may need different tools. But we can start now to fill our toolbox so that we have some tools to choose from when the time comes.
Myth: When babies are born, it’s just a baby that’s being born.
Truth: There IS a baby being born. But birth is also a time when two people are also transforming
into parents, and they are shifting from being a COUPLE to being a FAMILY. Having a baby is a huge identity shift. Our values change. Many people start to mark their lives as “before children” and “after children”. And if we aren’t careful, we can put so much energy into this baby that we can start to take our relationship for granted. So in addition to a baby being born, there is also a family being born and parents being born.
In addition, Dr. T. Berry Brazelton used to say that in each pregnancy there are really THREE
BABIES being born. One is the perfect smiling, cooing four month old who does
everything on schedule and is easy to manage. One is the feared baby who has medical needs or behavioral challenges or is “sensitive” and difficult to manage. One is the REAL baby. And the truth of the matter is that EVERY baby is a REAL baby and EVERY baby has moments of both
perfection and fear.
I can help you to figure out your REAL baby. I can help you to read
his cues, to get to know her preferences, and to find a custom plan
that works for you and the real baby you’ve got.
Myth: We don’t have to start preparing for this baby yet because there isn’t much we have to do until the 3rd trimester.
Truth: Would you ever wake up one day and think to yourself “I think I want to run a marathon today”?
NO! Of course not! According to https://www.runnersworld.com/training/a19599563/marathon-training-basics/
most runners need 12 to 16 weeks to prepare for a marathon, and if you are a total newbie to
running it is safer to plan for 10 months to a year! “Taking 10 months to a year to develop a relationship with running and build a safe, substantial base may not be exactly what Netflix-and-chill crowds want to hear.
However, rushing it can result in stress fractures or other common injuries—and no one has time for that.” In the same way, parenthood is not a sprint – it’s a marathon. It’s important to find people who have gone down the journey of parenthood before you. There are four types of people that we need in our lives: friends and family; medical professionals for birth; emotional support for birth; and a new parent sanity specialist (THAT’S ME!).
1. Friends and family: Who in our lives are the people we trust who can come watch our baby so
that we can get a nap? Who are the new parents in our lives who we can ask for advice when we need it? What groups are in our area for new parents?
2. Medical professionals for birth: As we prepare for birth, do we want to use a midwife or an
OB/GYN? The OB/GYN has a lot of knowledge of what can go wrong, but often a midwife has more knowledge about the actual birth process that can help things to go smoother. Some midwives do home births and some work in hospitals. Do we know what our options are and why we would choose one over the other? What seems like the best option for OUR family? And where do WE feel the most comfortable giving birth?
3. Emotional support for birth: Who do we want to have present at the birth? For some families, it
can be special to have their own mother or parent present, but for most women in labor our mothers may do or say something that brings back challenging memories of the past that we just don’t need to deal with during an already stressful time. I would strongly recommend that each new parent look into options for having a doula present at the birth. Many people go to a tax accountant instead of doing their own taxes just so that they have a trusted person who has gone through the process before so that they can ask questions. In the same way, a doula is a trusted person who is there to support BOTH PARENTS to discuss their birth preferences and to be an encouragement through the process as we see what comes up during the birth experience. Birth doulas tend to charge a flat fee per birth. This means that you will usually pay the same whether you hire them at 10 weeks or 38 weeks. So why not hire one now and have someone available to call when you have questions? We wouldn't run a marathon without a trainer, so let’s consider having a doula (a birth trainer) on our team.
4. A new parent sanity specialist (THAT’S ME!): Did you know that 2/3 of couples experience a
significant increase in hostility when a baby is born? Many times, the partners of the one giving birth feel left out and resentful that the new baby is taking all of the attention. And both parents are sleep deprived, which can make anyone grumpy. I provide coaching and classes that help you to fall in love with parenting… together. I do that by helping you to:
• Know what to expect and what’s typical
• Know yourself and your partner better as your identities change
• Identify what behaviors predict divorce and what we can do to reduce them
• Increase your friendship as a parenting team
• Express your needs appropriately before they explode or come out as criticism or sarcasm
• Manage conflict
• Cry less and smile more
• Manage the division of labor
Myth: We should wait until our baby is born before we give you a call.
Truth: Hopefully you have gotten the idea that there are things that we can do NOW, during pregnancy, to help things to go smoother after our baby is born. Our goal is to create rituals of
connection that you will take with you into parenting and beyond. Wherever you are in your parenting journey, now is a great time to schedule a pregnancy vision casting session or a family
breakthrough session with me, your new parent sanity specialist.
Let’s talk about your preferences for life after baby - how it may impact your work, your marriage, and your life. Let’s talk about what we can do NOW to help you, your partner,
and your baby to cry less, smile more, and get along better. To get started, go to little-
elf.org/appointments and let’s chat!
I’m looking forward to getting to know you and supporting your family. Warmly, Lara
Fall in love with parenting… together
I help babies to cry less, smile more and develop well.
I help parents to support growth from a calm,
confident, unconditional place.
I help couples to protect and nurture their relationship
from the identity changes, sleep deprivation, and
added work that comes with having a baby.
Lara Elfstrand, MA, IF-ATMHP 916-579-4013