• Blogs
  • There’s no one-size-fits-all for pregnancy, birth and parenthood

There’s no one-size-fits-all for pregnancy, birth and parenthood

31 October 2023

Perinatal mental health Maternity Mental health
What are your hopes for the ideal pregnancy, birth and family life? Nothing’s ever perfect, of course, but the chances are your idea of perfect differs from the next person's perfect.

Your pregnancy, birth and parenthood should be like youunique

Our society is more diverse than ever, yet we often put ourselves under pressure to conform to some prescriptive concept of pregnancy, birth and parenthood, rather than tailoring it to suit us.

In our social media age, when it feels like everyone is judging us, we can put ourselves – often unconsciously – under unnecessary pressure. Add to that the weight of expectations from people in our inner circle, and it can all lead to heightened stress during your pregnancy, birth and parenthood.

Why it’s important to set your own expectations

Research shows the years between birth and baby’s fourth birthday are a critical time for the development of emotional, physical and mental health. It’s an important time for families and communities to build nurturing and strong relationships with their infants and young children. The last thing you need is the added, avoidable stress of trying to meet other people’s expectations. 

Write your own story

The truth is, much of the pressure we experience as parents is simply the result of the stories we tell ourselves. Often, the perceived weight of expectation we feel is just that: perceived. But even if it is real, this is your pregnancy, your baby, your family. You decide what works for you. What do you want your pregnancy, birth and family life to look like?

Start by thinking and talking about:

  • Your support circle (because we all need help). They say it takes a village to raise a child, but what does yours look like? Who do you have around you? Do you have family and friends you can rely on? Do you need to access support services? 
  • Get on the same page. If you have a partner, talk about what you both want. Discuss what sort of birth you have in mind. Paint a picture of family life with each other. There are lots of options, and you’ll probably have different ideas. Talking is the key to reconciling them.
  • Put a plan together. What practical steps can you take to make things happen the way you want? Which support services or groups can you access or join? What changes can you make to your home and work routine to start creating the family nest you want for your baby?
  • Accept that you need to be flexible. If you plan your ideal pregnancy, birth or family life and it doesn’t work out exactly how you expected, that doesn’t mean you made the wrong choices. Making adjustments is part of life, helping us build new skills, resilience and provides space for reflection during the transition to parenthood.

If this is something you’re struggling with – if you need someone to talk to about it – St John of God Raphael Services is here to help. We can work through it with you, liaise with your hospital or birthing service of choice and support you every step of the way.

To learn more about how St John of God Raphael Services can help, visit sjog.org.au/raphael

Head shot of Eilish Burns, smiling at the camera.
Eilish Burns - Senior Social Worker
Eilish Burns is a mental health social worker and registered mental health nurse who began specialising in perinatal mental health after gaining 28 years’ experience in the public and private health sectors. She joined Raphael Services as a Mental Health Clinician in 2011 and is also part of the perinatal team at St John of God Midland Public Hospital. Eilish is an animal lover and in her spare time she enjoys browsing through charity shops.