LDS parents-to-be can receive comforting reassurance from their more-seasoned parents.
In some states when you buy a new car and for some reason you are not satisfied you can return it within a 72 hour period. Unlike your car, your baby comes with a binding unwritten agreement: “Non returnable. The deal is final.” There’s no sending them back. And they don’t even come with an owner’s manual of instructions, like your car. Okay, so we don’t “own” this baby. He or she belongs to God, so does that mean they are on loan to us? Hey, even a leased car comes with a manual. Hmmm, we seem to recall that these kids are ours for eternity. This is not a temporary situation. Maybe we could best call it co-parenting with God.
Whatever it’s called, no question about it, the new parents need help. The good news is, they are not in this alone. There is plenty of help out there, and, fortunately for your soon-to-be-a-parent child, one of the best sources of information is you, because you have been through it. And, other than Heavenly Father, you know your child better than anyone. Your wise counsel will be a treasured gift to help them on this earthly journey.
It will require a mild biting of your tongue, lest you become overly helpful and obnoxious, creating resentment and giving them the feeling that they aren’t capable of raising a child. Your job is to boost their confidence as you give a little guidance, mostly as simple suggestions of things you’ve learned yourself or from others.
Remind them that having a child is one of the most courageous and unselfish things they will ever do to contribute to the growth and well being of their family, community, and the work of the Lord. Praise your children for it. Never criticize them for having a baby, which in some circles happens all too frequently. How terrible would it be to hear, “I can’t believe you’re having a baby, you can barely afford to feed yourselves!” That’s insulting and disrespectful. With the help of the Lord they will be able to care of their family. Their child is also God’s child and they can call on Him any time for guidance.
Let these newly prospective parents know you are proud of them for taking this glorious step that the Lord intended for them to take. Rejoice with them. Reassure them that He will help them as they work hard and have faith in Him. The Family: A Proclamation to the World says, “We declare that God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force.” They are complying with God’s commandment. That deserves not only a pat on the back but a big hug and a “We’re so proud of you!”
Sometimes parents have encouraged their young married child to delay having a baby. Here’s the deal, once they are married, unless they ask you, it’s none of your business regarding when they choose to have a baby. Even if they ask, they need to hear you say “It’s up to both of you and the Lord to make that decision. Be prayerful and He will guide you.”
Some young couples are afraid to have a baby and start a family. It can feel overwhelming, so they need your reassurance that, even though it’s challenging, it will be the most rewarding thing they’ll ever do. Ask them for specifics regarding what their concerns are. Listen to them. Then give the gentle encouragement and understanding they need.
So now the announcement has been made, “Mom and Dad, we’re pregnant!” This is wonderful news. Enjoy this moment. Thank them for bringing a grandchild into the world for you to love and spoil. Let them know that you think this baby will be very blessed— downright lucky— to have them as parents, and you’re confident they will do a great job.
Here are a few points you might consider talking to them about. We haven’t even come close to addressing everything a new parent needs to know, but it’s a starting place. Have fun sharing what you’ve learned and be a good listener as they share their thoughts with you. In Part One we’ll address issues related to being pregnant, right up to the birth. Part Two will cover after the baby is born. So here we go.
1. What to do now that you’re pregnant
See a doctor. The pregnancy test is positive so now make an appointment with an OB/GYN doctor right away. Don’t wait. A doctor needs to be on board right from the beginning to make sure all is well, to advise you, and to chart your baby’s progress. When you go to the doctor take a written list of questions you are wondering about. Their job is to guide and comfort you along this journey. If you don’t know a doctor, ask a friend, relative, or your Relief Society president for suggestions. If you choose to use a midwife, make sure she is medically qualified and highly recommended.
Get a priesthood blessing. This is one of the most important journeys of your life, so seek the guidance of the Lord through a priesthood blessing. It can be very comforting to you. And the best person in the world to give the prospective mother a blessing is her husband, the soon-to-be daddy. Remember it is the Lord who gives the words to be spoken in the blessing, and He definitely knows what you need. This will be a sweet experience for you both. [If the new father doesn’t hold the priesthood, guide her to someone who does, including yourself if you are the father, but be sure her husband is present. It may even be nice for the prospective father to have a blessing, too]
Pray. Pray every day—morning and night and throughout the day—asking the Lord to guide you both in this journey. Ask Him to bless your baby to grow healthy and strong. Ask for guidance to help you in this process. If you’re worried about something, pray about it very specifically. Then listen to the quiet whisperings of the Spirit to guide you. And, don’t forget, the Lord works hand in hand with doctors. Pray for them to be guided by Him in your behalf.
Learn all you can about being pregnant and giving birth. There are excellent books available that go into detail regarding pregnancy, so start reading. One of the most popular on the market is What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Maze. It’s loaded with answers for almost any situation. There are many other good ones; pick your favorite. The Internet is likewise full of helpful information.
Talk to friends and family members who have gone through it. They love to talk about it and will share what they’ve learned with you. Being afraid is normal. Learning will lessen your fear. Remember that comforting scripture, “If ye re prepared ye shall not fear.” (D&C 38:30)
2. Enjoy your growing baby
As your baby grows, find the joy in each stage of development. Tamarin Gee, a mother of young children, suggests you “Don’t worry about the future. Relish every moment of that baby forming inside you. Enjoy each flutter.”
Rose Rowbury, now a grandmother who raised ten of her own children, shared this thought, “Cherish the moment! That life stirring within you is trusting you and believes in you, and you can do this with the help of the Lord.”
Two more comments from mothers give more evidence of the joys of bringing a baby into the world. Gerry Bastian counseled, “Take the time each day to enjoy the experience, even the not-so-fun times of morning sickness. You are serving the Lord and others by providing a body for each precious soul. Learn as much as you can to be prepared. You will learn to appreciate your own mother more. This is from the mother of 8 children—and everyone was welcomed with love and excitement when they were born.”
Amy Erickson gave an excellent suggestion, something she did during her first pregnancy that has helped her as a mother. She said, “Keep a journal. The moments of revelation that a mother has while she is preparing to bring a child into the world are probably her most precious. Knowing that you are partnering with Heavenly Father in bringing a new spirit to earth creates an awesome bond with Him that is unique. Being able to go back to the journal to remember those thoughts and moments truly is priceless.”
The new soon-to-be-daddy needs to know what his wife is experiencing, so share openly with him. He needs to feel those little kicks and put his ear to your tummy and try to hear the heartbeat and other sounds. Be generous with him; this is his journey, too. Both of you need to experience it and find the joy in it.
You can track your baby’s weekly development online. One such website is www.babycenter.com. You can see what babies look like at all stages of development. This site also gives a lot of ideas to help you throughout your pregnancy, as do many others.
3. Take good care of your body
The best thing you have done to this point to prepare your body for bearing a healthy baby is living the Word of Wisdom. By not using tobacco, alcohol, harmful drugs, tea or coffee you have given your baby a significant advantage. Bless you for that!
Eat healthy; nourish yourself and that little one growing inside you. Remember when we taught you to eat your fruits and vegetables? Well, now it’s time to kick compliance to that counsel to a higher level. Also, add healthy protein to your diet, such as lean meat, seafood, nuts, eggs, beans.
You will probably get morning sickness during the first three months. Most women do. Eat often and in small amounts to prevent getting sick from an empty tummy. Keep crackers or dry cereal close by to snack on when nausea hits. Drink a good amount of water during the day. You’ll have plenty of late night trips to the bathroom, which can be lessened by not drinking too close to bed time. Avoid drinking carbonated drinks, they can cause leg cramps, and they’re not healthy.
As the baby grows you will become more and more uncomfortable. Talk to your doctor and other mothers to see what brings the most comfort during this stage. Explain what you’re feeling and if you have certain pains that keep you awake. There’s usually an answer for some kind of relief, even if it’s as simple as putting a pillow between your legs while sleeping.
Sleep when you’re tired, which will be a lot. After all, you’re making a baby and that takes a ton of energy. Doctors stress that you should never sleep on your back. It can cut off blood flow to your baby. They say the left side is best, but either is okay. Find your comfortable side and get all the rest you can.
Doing moderate exercise will help keep your energy up, just don’t over do it. It may also help you sleep better and will strengthen your muscles for giving birth. Be sure to ask your doctor what exercises are recommended.
4. Take good care of each other and your unborn baby
Be kind and caring to each other. This isn’t just about a pregnant mother-to-be, it’s also about a man becoming a father. You need to be patient with each other. You are both under stress. The wife wondering if she’s properly nourishing her growing baby and if she will be a good mom, along with concern about a variety of aches and pains. The husband wondering what he can do to help his wife find relief, as well as having concerns about being able to provide for all the needs of his new little family, and if he’ll be a good dad. Being aware and talking about each others concerns can help.
Keep going on weekly dates, and enjoy sexual intimacy as safely recommended by your doctor. Pamper each other every chance you get. Never keeping track of who’s giving or getting the most. Just do what you can and enjoy the giving and receiving when it happens.
Here’s a heads up for the new daddy. Be prepared for hormones to go on a rampage through your wife’s body. She’s going to be moody. That’s normal. She’ll likely cry more often, be easily offended, worried about how she looks, and, in general, on edge. Be understanding and patient. Keep reminding yourself that it’s temporary, and just show her an extra measure of love and thoughtfulness.
The father needs to be as much a part of the pregnancy as possible, watching the development and changes in his wife’s body, knowing what the doctor said, etc. He needs to have his curious questions answered. Be open with each other.
Arguing and yelling are damaging to your relationship and to your unborn baby’s well being. Remember, a developing baby can hear sounds and can be disturbed by loud noises. Research also shows that they are able to hear the voice of their mother more than other voices. They do, however, respond well to lower tones, so that’s a clue for daddy to come close and speak to the unborn baby in his soothing low voice. This very act of speaking soothingly to your baby will bring you closer together as a couple. And that’s one of the healthiest things you can give your baby.
Have peace and harmony in your home. William Sears, M.D., and his wife Martha, RN, parents of eight children, suggest you do whatever you can to be sure your baby gets the best emotional start. Remember that emotions, positive or negative, are more intense during pregnancy. It’s important to resolve stresses quickly, in a positive fashion, seeking help if needed. Talk to, sing to, and share affectionate thoughts with your baby. If nothing else, it will make your pregnancy nicer for you. (https://www.askdrsears.com/)
5. Choose a name with care
Please don’t give your baby a weird name. He or she will have to spell and explain it to everyone for the rest of their lives. Names need to be something to be proud of, so choose carefully. If you want our opinion, we’ll give it, but only if you ask. If you can’t agree on a particular name, then keep coming up with names until you both like the same one.
Don’t be surprised if the name you chose doesn’t fit when you see your baby, and you just know a different name is the right one. Go with the feeling.
If you don’t want us to give your baby a nickname, let us know. If you name him Richard, we might be calling him Richie. Let us know if that’s not what you want. We’ll honor your request and will go along with whatever name you choose.
6. When the labor pains begin
Follow these steps:
• Be calm, breath deep—both of you.
• Call your doctor as he or she has instructed.
• Say a prayer, then keep on praying silently (you’ll think of dozens of things to pray about as you move from one step to the next).
• Have a priesthood blessing, specific to your concerns (if there’s no time, then do it at the hospital).
• Drive safely to the hospital (keep gas in the car so it’s always ready to go)
• Call us so we can add our prayers to yours. Then call us when the baby arrives.
This is your private, sacred, miracle-time together and we don’t want to interfere. Nothing can take the place of the wonder and joy you will feel when your precious baby is placed in your arms. Savor those moments with each other and your baby as long as you can.
We will be eager to come as soon you say. We know we’ll be sharing this time with the other set of grandparents. You set the times when you need and want us there to help. We won’t kick and scream about it if we’re second (not so you can hear). Usually the new mother’s mom gets first option, but even then, do what works best for you. It’s not about the grandparents. It’s about you two and your baby.
Just be sure to include us soon. We’re not your baby’s parents, but we are yours, and this journey of being grandparents is a very exciting and longed-for one for us. It will be a little like holding you as a baby in our arms once again, and, because of the forever-love we feel for you, we can hardly wait.
[Part Two, next month, will address counsel they’ll need after the baby is born.]
Gary Lundberg is a marriage and family therapist, his wife, Joy, is an author and song writer; they present marriage retreats, firesides and seminars, and write books on creating happy family relationship. https://www.garyjoylundberg.com.