Editor’s note: Please welcome Marcia Mattern, CAPC’s newest contributor! A convert to our Catholic Faith, Marcia lives in Illinois with her husband and 5 children where she’s active in her parish. For the next few months, Marcia’s articles will consider CAPC’s 7 Building Blocks for a Family-Centered Home©.
We often think of bonding with baby after they are born….but we can begin even earlier!
A Catholic couple prepares for childbirth by embracing their mutual fertility and welcoming children consciously with God’s gift of life.
Systematic observations of fertility (tracking the wife’s basal temperature and cervical mucus) allow a couple to see a woman’s natural signs of fertility. With this knowledge, the couple can make responsible choices of spacing birth. There are many good choices for Natural Family Planning (NFP) such as Creighton, Couple to Couple League, and Northwest.
Even before conceiving a new life, parents may ask God to intercede in the growth and health of the developing child. Mothers traditionally ask for the intercession of St. Gerard and St. Margaret of Antioch regarding conception and pregnancy.
In times of difficulty in conceiving, spouses welcome more education and instruction to comply completely with the requirements of our Catholic Faith. For these couples, welcoming a new life through spiritual adoption is a comfort and a blessing.
Upon conception, parents can find peace in receiving a blessing upon the new life. In 2012, the United States Bishops released a prayer which parents may ask for by their priest: Rite-for-the-Blessing-of-a-Child-in-the-Womb.
Some Catholic parents find passages from the Holy Bible to give them comfort during pregnancy. We can find several passages that show the amazing power of God in taking part in creating the life in the womb of the Mother. Psalm 139:13 might be the most well know passage “You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb”.
Other passages supporting God’s handiwork include: Wisdom 7:1, Ecclesiastes 11:5 and Job 1:21.
Preparing for Birth:
Parents may wish to take childbirth classes to educate themselves about this new gift of life. Reading books and watching videos about different options for birth help the parents prepare for the labor and delivery.
Exercise and healthy eating during the time before conception as well as during pregnancy increase the chances of a healthy mom and child.
Some parents find connecting with other parents who have similar values can give support during pregnancy and childbirth. Parishes may offer ministries especially for pregnant women such as Elizabeth Ministry .
Choosing a health care provider who embraces the Catholic teachings regarding fertility is often high on the list for expecting Catholic couples. One More Soul offers a long listing of providers in the United States as well as options for Natural Family Planning.
The companions a couple invites to their child’s birth can increase chances for a calm and natural birth. Increasing numbers of couples are choosing a doula to accompany them during labor and delivery. A doula is a non-medical support person trained to support the mother and spouse during the pregnancy, labor, delivery and postpartum period.
Preparing Older Siblings:
Bonding with baby takes on a twist when the second and successive pregnancies come along!
An attached parent melts the other children’s heart by helping the other children welcome siblings joyfully. The Blessed Pope John Paul II even exhorted the faithful that a sibling was the greatest gift parents could give a child. The other children learn self giving and to embrace the uniqueness of each unrepeatable person when they welcome a sibling.
Reading books and watching child focused videos with your children can help them bond with the new life growing as well. Tell your children their own birth story. As developmentally appropriate, parents can share with their children the wonder of God’s creation of man and the wide depth of how as Catholics we see the Theology of the Body.
I personally recommend Angel in the Waters by Regina Doman and My Mom Is Having a Baby by Dorri Miller. Parts of the Business of Being Born DVD by Abby Epstein and/or Gentle Birth DVD by Barbara Harper would allow some visualization of the birthing process for children as parents see fit. Please preview these before determining if they are good for sharing with your children.
Familiaris Consortio (On the role of the Christian Family in the Modern World)
General audience talks on Theology of the Body