Pregnant women have access to a range of antenatal care to support them through pregnancy, and there are a wide variety of classes available to prepare expecting parents for the birth, from hospital provided programs through to private calm birth classes and active birthing workshops. But what about beyond the birth? Preparing expectant parents for the changes in their relationships and lifestyle following the birth of their first child is surely just as important. After all, as Mary Kirk, Executive Director of the Canberra Mothercraft Society (CMS), says “all relationships are up for renegotiation when a baby is born.”
New parents are often unprepared for the challenges they will face when it is time to bring baby home. These challenges include bonding and attachment, communication, family expectations, intimacy, sleep, getting to know baby cues, role negotiations, stress and post-natal feelings.
The Relaxing into Parenting and Baby Makes 3 Program was born out of the need to equip new parents with the knowledge and tools to cope with these challenges.The program focuses on vital information to ease parents into their new role as parents. The interactive, psycho-educational nature of the group encourages active learning and engagement. Through small and large group discussion, reflective activities, solo and couple based work, viewing educational videos, reading and worksheets, expectant parents can voice and address their fears and learn strategies within a safe and encouraging environment.
Supporting new parents to trust themselves and develop confidence is a key aim of the group. As participants share with each other, road testing their own ideas and airing their feelings, they realise they are not alone and begin to strengthen their belief in themselves and their partner as parents. They also bond as a group and begin to form new potential friendships with people who are on a similar journey and at the same life stage as they are.
“… we found the group incredibly helpful and have used many of the strategies several times during the later stages of pregnancy and beginning of parenting. We’ll definitely be recommending it to our friends whenever they decide to have children.” – Max and Sarah
The content is tailored to be delivered to participants in a variety of formations, as required, including couples, single or young parents, and family or community groups that are raising a child together.
Whatever the formation, Relaxing into Parenting and Baby Makes 3 empowers expectant parents to strengthen their relationships with themselves, their significant other or support people, and with their baby. With this foundation, where attachment and bonding is affirmed and secure, expectant parents feel more able to meet the changing needs of their baby, to reach out for support when needed and to give themselves permission to grow as parents.
Parents are able return after the Relaxing into Parenting and Baby Makes 3 group to complete workshops for fathers, mothers and couples. These additional workshops offer ongoing support and encouragement to parents who wish to continue their development as individuals, partners, caregivers and providers.
For more information on Relaxing into Parenting and Baby Makes 3, please visit the program page here: https://www.cmsinc.org.au/about/community-development-programs/relaxing-into-parenting-ripp-and-baby-makes-3/.
We wish to acknowledge the Ngunnawal people as the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which CMS and its service are located, and their Elders past and present.