Historical Perspectives on Alcohol and Pregnancy
Rum During pregnancy…“drinking may produce a false sense of security and cause you to become careless about your health – to be careless about what you eat, to stay up too late or in some other way endanger your pregnancy. But if you are used to alcohol, a limited amount will do you no harm.” This advice comes from The Canadian Mother & Child guide produced and distributed by Health Canada. One might guess that this was from the 1950’s and be surprised to learn this expert advice comes from the Canadian Government ‘s 1977 edition. It is safe to say that most adults would be clear on the fact that drinking alcohol during pregnancy is not recommended, not for the social reasons set out by Health Canada in 1977, but rather to avoid the risk of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (or FAS.)
Generational Differences in Pregnancy and Parenting Advice
There are some less obvious shifts in trends relating to pregnancy, labour, delivery and newborn care over the last 2 to 4 decades. Frequently, the expecting parents are noticing a pattern of conflicting information between what the books are saying and what their parents (the Grandparents-to-be) are advising. The Grandparents-to-be are speaking from their experiences 20-40 years prior, and these happenings can be very outdated. To avoid any of the inevitable conflicts, re-educating those family members that will be supporting the new parents is a really good idea.
The changes in maternal and paediatric health care are not the only things that need to be clarified before baby’s arrival date. The expecting parents and their parents also need to be clear on what role the latter are going to have and what is expected with regards to their grandchildren. This clarity is important for everyone involved. For the most part, parents make a choice to take on the role of ‘Mom’ or ‘Dad’; however, grandparents innately adopt the title, whether they want it/are ready or not.
Grandparent-Parent Communication: Addressing and Expectations
Recently, I was talking to a couple moms (who were sisters) and their mother. When I asked the Grandma (“Gammie”) if she felt that she was respectful of her daughter’s parenting wishes regarding their 3 year olds, she answered confidently, “Why, yes! Of course!” but then followed it up with a less confident, “Right? Am I not, girls…?” Her daughters exchanged glances and raised their eyebrows at each other. The sister-moms both started listing examples of how their mom did not fully follow the desired rules they had with their children. Their mom, Gammie, looked hurt and vehemently defended herself. This was a good starting point for them to have a retroactive discussion that could have proactively occurred at day one (or before the babies even arrived) thus avoiding this resentment and hurt feelings.
Clarity around expectations of grandparents is important for all people involved. I have heard from many clients about situations where Grandma’s House is perceived as a free 24/7 day care facility – which can throw a kink in retirement plans if childcare wasn’t intended to be in the daily routine for the new grandparents. Again, with some open communication and clear boundaries, a strong team can be set up to raise healthy, balanced children as a family.
Bebo mia has created the A Little Rum Goes A Long Way class to get those Grandparents-to-be up to date, and on the same page as the expecting parents. Some of the curriculum includes, supporting the parents-to-be with their parenting choices, what is good and bad ‘spoiling’, creating and working within boundaries set by the new parents as well as current labour and delivery practices and protocols (thank goodness, no more shaving and enemas when you walk in the hospital door in labour!) This class is done privately online can include the expecting parents in the class as well. For more information or to schedule a private class
Photo Credit: flickr
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