To have a baby is to undertake the important responsibility of creating and nurturing a new life. Reliable contraceptive techniques give couples much greater scope for planning a family. Now they can consciously decide when to have a baby. As a result each child should be a wanted child and pregnancy not just something that ‘happened’. It is far better for a baby to be brought up in a loving environment and not in one of resentment, because parenthood has been thrust on an unwilling couple.
Pregnancy marks the start of a period of reorientation in a couple’s life. Understanding the physical and emotional changes that take place can lead to a deepening of the relationship. In turn this will add to the excitement and satisfaction of having children and building a united and emotionally stable family.
With the coming of the first child, there are many adjustments to be made by both the woman and the man. Life is moving into a new phase with many rewards, but also sacrifices and disappointments. However, there are also times of intense anxiety about the baby, labor and parenthood.
In contrast to the current openness, there was a time when pregnancy was almost taken as proof of a shameful sexual relationship. People tried not to notice pregnant women. Consequently the mother-to-be felt lonely and isolated. Nowadays there are plenty of opportunities for discussion in classes and in meeting other people. Pregnancy is a time for sharing—finding that other women have the same fears, anxieties and strange thoughts can give a great sense of relief and reassurance. Often life-long friends are made through meeting in hospital or at classes where experiences are shared.
Some aspects of modern living can lead to difficulties. The change of pace from a busy, active life to the relative tranquility of late pregnancy may come as a welcome change, but it can lead to frustration and even boredom. Career-minded women may be reluctant to interrupt their work to give their babies the security so vital to early development. Some mothers continue on a limited part-time basis. But problems arise if relatives are not close by to baby-sit or if there is no creche available to look after the baby during the day.
By taking the trouble to learn about the experience of having a baby you can do much to build up confidence and morale, and overcome any self-doubt about your ability to cope as parents.