For parents or parents to be who are interested in non-therapeutic support as the arrival of their child draws near, I also offer:
group workshops (before and after the birth)
support with writing a birth plan
specific information sessions (before and after the birth)
Workshops: before and after the birth
1• The workshop: "Becoming (a) parent(s)... what’s it all about?!"
My experience in providing support with and through writing has given me the desire to set up, one evening a month, a support group for parents to be, when those who wish to, can, subsequently, tell the group about their experiences as parents to be by writing texts (based around parenting).
This is not a therapeutic step but rather a social one in the sense of forming a fun and creative community of parents to be! Indeed, the word, both spoken and written, is a great way of uncovering the relationship between the parents to be.
Every month, at the start of the workshop, participants are presented with a theme linked to parenting. At the end of the workshop, those who wish to read what they have written during the workshop and we finish by asking the group a question for the next workshop and having a baby name quiz.
It is a workshop where you speak and write but there is no need to be a great orator or exceptional author to come along!
All of the participants are parents to be, whether in a couple, single, young or not so young, whether the child’s arrival was planned or not, whether they are pregnant or in the middle of the adoption process...they all have one thing in common - they are all parents to be!
Comment: For the coherence of workshop sessions, you don’t need to follow all the sessions but the workshops are organised in pairs; so it’s preferable to commit to two consecutive workshops.
A minimum of 6 participants is required for a workshop for maximum 10 participants.
2• The "New parents!" workshop:
A two part follow-up is offered after the "Becoming (a) parent(s)..." workshop:
Part one: approximately 3 months after the birth (or the arrival of the adopted child) > debriefing of the fresh experience, grieving for the lost illusions linked to the imagined delivery, the "perfect" encounter with this imaginary infant... and sharing this experience with the group of young parents
Part two: between 6 and 9 months after the arrival of the infant > sharing feelings about parenting that is now more "established", the parenting skills developed and the style and personality of the child which is now better understood and recognised.
A short text summarising the feelings of the new parents three and six-nine months after the infant’s birth can conclude the parents’ participation in these final two workshops and, if they agree, is anonymously read out to the parents to be participating in the "Becoming (a) parent(s)" workshop, as a way of sharing their experiences and emotions.
The birth plan... another way writing can provide psychological support to parents!
Parents to be who wish to write alone could always write their own birth plan!
Technically, this is a document that the gynaecologist will offer to give to the team responsible for the delivery. When the actual day comes around the midwife will read the document in order to respect the couple’s wishes as far as possible.
This document will specify, for example, the people you wish to be present at the delivery, the type of music you would like to accompany it, the position in which the new mother wishes to find herself, the type of pain relief desired (epidural or not etc.).
As a birth is a relatively exceptional event in a woman’s life and in that of a couple, it is a good idea to consider, in as far as is possible, the way you would like it to take place!
But this document can go beyond the simple technical and informative aspect and take on a "poetic" or "artistic" nature, the start of a birth announcement, a song or a "birth book" written for someone’s child in order to welcome that child in the same way one might decorate his/her bedroom or prepare his/her trousseau...
Who is equipped to provide psychological support to this writing?
For the technical aspects: the gynaecologist or midwife if there is one.
For the rest: the creativity of the parents, or the psychological support to writing that I offer to couples.
Information session: on pre-partum and post-partum
1• Information sessions on pre-partum: the emotional changes of the pregnancy
If pregnancy is a universal phenomenon and statistically "common" (on average: less than twice in a Western woman’s life), it is no less a real "stage" in the life of a woman and a couple, as regards social and intrapsychic changes. This is not just due to the hormonal impact of the pregnancy but also to the physical, morphological and existential changes of the pregnancy and the anticipation of the role of "parent" which ensues.
An information session on these changes is intended to explain these phenomena to those who experience them from the inside and to those who experience them indirectly and to provide support to any questions they might have on the pregnancy and birth.
We will study the identity processes at play during this specific period.
We will deal with themes such as hyper-sensitivity, anxiety, "couvade", repositioning within the family ...
... Because being normal isn’t necessarily easy!
And because becoming a parent starts at pregnancy!
These information sessions can take place in a group (4 couples maximum) or as a couple (then the information provided will be specific to the relevant trimester of pregnancy).
2• Information session on post-partum: changes within the family and possibility of baby-blues
In the same way that you can expect information on the duration of the pregnancy and its implications, lots of couples also want to know about "the after baby", or "post-partum" period.
A certain number of women will go through a period known as "baby-blues", others (less common) will undergo an episode of serious depression, but all parents will experience changes in their life as of the birth!
Shifts within the family (the baby’s parents are henceforth both "children" and "parents", their previous child has lost its status of youngest or "only" child,...), changes in schedule, tiredness, but also discoveries, phases contemplating this charming little stranger... in short a whole host of emotions and a minor "revolution" in the young parents’ lives!
A post-partum information session will attempt to respond to these different questions, to ease young parents’ anxiety, to strengthen their new parenting skills (formerly known as "mothering")... we know that, if the "feeling" of being a mother or father is very distinct from the skills required to care for the child, this feeling is reinforced once the childcare skills have been acquired. There can be a real work of synergy between the parallel development of the appropriation of "being a parent" and the childcare skills. This psychological support can be reinforced by a midwife who goes to the parents and provides support in parallel, both for the child, the mother or the couple (see "collaborations").
In the same way as the pre-partum information sessions, these sessions can be given as part of a group or to one couple at a time, depending on demand.